(1822-1841) was a Luiseño
) Indian who provided a rare contemporary Native American
perspective on the institutions and early history of Alta California
. Tac was born of Luiseño parents at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
and attended the Mission school. A promising student, he (along with another boy) was singled out by the Franciscan
missionary, Father Antonio Peyrí
, to accompany Peyrí when he left California in 1832. Tac visited Rome
in 1834 and was enrolled in the College of the Propaganda
, studying Latin grammar
. He went on to study rhetoric
, and philosophy
in preparation for missionary work, but he died in 1841.
As a student, Tac wrote a grammatical sketch and a fragmentary dictionary of the Luiseño language
, as well as an essay on the "Conversion of the San Luiseños of Alta California." The latter includes information on aboriginal lifeways (including dances and games) and the history and organization of the Mission, along with two crude drawings by Tac. Tac authored an early account of life at Mission San Luis Rey entitled Indian Life and Customs at Mission San Luis Rey: A Record of California Mission Life by Pablo Tac, An Indian Neophyte
1835, edited and translated by Minna Hewes and Gordon Hewes in 1958). In the book, Tac lamented the rapid decline of his people:
<blockquote>In Quechla not long ago there were 5,000 souls, with all their neighboring lands. Through a sickness that came to......