The Briones Experience
While gazing into the life of Juana Briones, I found that she was more than just a woman. She was a healer (of medicine) and businesswoman. She accomplished and overcame several obstacles during the Spanish Colonial period. I became very interested in Briones for many reasons, one: she was a woman of color, two: her occupation as a healer and three: her being an independent individual. When I first begun my research on the Remixing EL Presidio Project, I was moving toward women involvement and just looking at medicine that was used by Briones and the Native Californians (Ohlone). However all of that changed when I started to explore the uses of the plants that were here during Briones time.
I got a chance to talk to one of EL Presidios Park Rangers, Fatima Colindres; she has been studying Briones herself for the past few years. The information I received from Colindres about EL Presidio and Briones inspired me to learn more about plant use and African Americans in California. She also explained some controversy of Briones being labeled as mulatto and other roles of the Bay Area Natives; I was amazed at everything she had to say.
At first I was getting all my information from one source, until I had went to visit the El Presidios Archaeology Lab. When I got their there were numerous archives and other books that referenced Briones and El Polin Springs. The Archaeologist who worked at the lab was very helpful and bombarded me and two other classmates with data. Overall learning about Juana Briones helped me lift my researching skills and pin pointed me toward other directions. I have learned so much about Medical Plants that I will be furthering my understanding of natural healing.
Rebecca Caroline McGee