El Camino Real and The Missions of the Baja California Peninsula.

About the author: Miguel León-Portilla (1926-2019) was a philosopher, historian, anthropologist and writer born in Mexico City. He was a researcher emeritus at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México for thirty years. He was also a member of the Colegio Nacional, an institution for whose admission he presented the paper: La historia y los historiadores en el A México antiguo. His work focused on pre-Hispanic Mexican indigenous peoples. He is known for his work “Vision of the Vanquished”, which compiles indigenous testimonies about the conquest. He also wrote “La filosofía náhuatl estudiada en sus fuentes” and “Quince poetas del mundo náhuatl”. In his tireless search, he defended indigenous values and sought to keep indigenous languages alive, especially Nahuatl.

About the book: Miguel León-Portilla states that, for a long time, the indigenous settlers of the Californias remained isolated and lacked adequate roads. From this statement, the author presents the book “El Camino Real y las Misiones de la peninsula de Baja California”, with anchorage in the 36 missions founded between 1683 and 1840.

The author writes at the beginning: “To walk today the path of the missions with knowledge of their history is an enriching experience. Those who walk it will contemplate a geography of hope, that of the lands where Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans worked tirelessly with the only weapons of faith and dedication”.

It also tells how Hernán Cortés made several expeditions and landed in the Bay of La Paz in 1535. León-Portilla delves into the legacy of the first settlers: cave paintings and petroglyphs. Deserts, islands and forests are landscapes inhabited by biodiversity whose fragile heritage survives in danger of extinction.

Illustrated with maps, drawings, and photos, this book is a historical and anthropological account of Mexican California’s ancestors in Spanish and English. And, of course, a blueprint of how to access roads and cultures that have been impenetrable.

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