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This article investigates Indigenous persistence within Mission Santa Clara de Asís in central California through the analysis of animal food remains. The Spanish colonial mission system within Alta California had a profound social and ecological impact on Indigenous peoples, altering traditional subsistence strategies and foodway patterns. Past research has highlighted the continued use of precolonial foods within the Alta California mission system alongside the daily consumption of colonial-style beef stews. This article expands on that literature to consider how Indigenous and colonial residents differentially acquired ingredients and prepared daily meals within the Alta California colonial mission system. This assessment demonstrates a sharp divergence between Indigenous and colonists’ daily diet, manifested in the continued use of wild food resources by Indigenous people as well as the maintenance of precolonial culinary practices in the preparation of cattle meat for daily stews. These findings complicate our understanding of foodways within the Spanish mission system and expand our understanding of Indigenous autonomy within conditions of colonialism.
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