College of Arts & Sciences

Castillo to speak on the bloody history of Spanish missions in California

350acc2853f34242889578784ed5d777The OSU Department of History is bringing a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author to Stillwater to discuss the myth of California’s Catholic missions.


Elias Castillo, author of “A Cross of Thorns,” will be on campus March 7 to present a lecture, “Shattering California’s Mission Myth,” beginning at 3:30 p.m. in the Murray Hall Parlor.


Castillo, a native of Baja California, Mexico, has been the recipient of 16 journalism awards during a career spent writing for the San Jose Mercury News and the Associated Press. In addition to leading the first scientific exploration of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Castillo has spent more than a decade researching and writing on the bloody history of the Spanish missions in California and Mexico, and the suffering of native populations served by them.


“In the case of California’s missions, the coastal Indians paid a high price for their interaction with the church,” Castillo wrote in a 2015 article for the Mercury News. “Serra, who arrived in 1769, created a harsh and unforgiving regimen that would ultimately claim the lives of 62,000 Indians and devastate their civilization, including the extinction of a number of small tribes.”


Castillo will be available after the lecture to sign copies of “A Cross of Thorns,” which is currently available in hardcopy and digital formats from Amazon. Additional copies are also available from the OSU Bookstore on the first floor of the Student Union, and will be available for sale during the lecture.