Alumni news: JMC grad publishes book on treatment of natives at CA missions

San José State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate Elias Castillo has recently published a book entitled “A Cross of Thorns: the Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions.”

The cover of Elias Castillo's book.

The cover of Elias Castillo’s book.

Castillo, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist, describes the Spanish missions in his book as “death camps where more than 60,000 Indian workers died, many as a result of whippings, disease and malnutrition,” according to press release. During his research of the book, he closely examined records kept by the Catholic religious order, the Franciscans, that founded the missions. He asserts that from 1769-1833, indigenous people were held captive and treated brutally, with letters from Father Junipero Serra confirming such treatment.

The book was released in February by publisher Craven Street Books. It is available in hardback or e-book.

Castillo graduated from SJSU in 1962 with a bachelor’s of art, returning to the school to complete a master’s in 1997. He has had a distinguished career in journalism. He has earned three Pulitzer Prize nominations and 13 journalism awards for his work at the San Jose Mercury News, the Santa Barbara News Press, the Reno Gazette and the Associated Press.

Castillo and his wife Cathy Neville Castillo signed an agreement with the San José State University School of Journalism and Mass Communications to give back with a planned gift in 2013 that will establish the Castillo Journalism Technology Fund.


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