Books (Monographs):

We are not Animals

First full length book monograph, entitled: We are not Animals: Indigenous Politics of Resistance, Rebellion, and Reconstitution in 19th Century California. This book examines the history of Indigenous people of the Santa Cruz region.




Praise for We are not Animals:

“Deeply researched and fresh in conception, methodology, and breadth, We Are Not Animals is a major contribution to the study of Native California and the missions. . . . In a singular and exceptional way among historians, Martin Rizzo-Martinez identifies Native people by name, family, and tribe and he follows the survivors of the Amah Mutsun nation through the American genocide of the late nineteenth century.”—Lisbeth Haas, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz


“Rizzo-Martinez unearths Native voices from the archive to provide an overdue historical account of the Indigenous experience in Santa Cruz and surrounding region. By decentering colonial institutions like the missions and non-Native voices, Rizzo-Martinez effectively places Indigenous space and knowledge at the center of this study, a valuable model for future scholars of the Native experience in California.”—Yve Chavez (Tongva), assistant professor of history of art and visual culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz


“Both heartbreaking and inspiring, We Are Not Animals is a history of destruction as well as of California Indian survival against great odds. Rizzo-Martinez has written a deeply researched study of Indigenous peoples in Santa Cruz and surrounding areas that improves our understanding of Native American experiences in California as a whole.”—Benjamin Madley, author of An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873


We Are Not Animals is an important book in California mission studies, deploying established sources and a significant, frequently overlooked one—Confirmation records—to reveal Indian community building inside the mission to which Franciscans were oblivious. Rizzo-Martinez effectively demonstrates how Indians exploited the mission system for their own ends and carries the story through early California statehood, challenging previous interpretations that missionization had extinguished Indian culture. We Are Not Animals marks the arrival of a sophisticated scholar to the conversations about early California history.”—James A. Sandos, Farquhar Professor of the American Southwest, Emeritus, University of Redlands





Big Basin Redwood Forest: California’s Oldest State Park

By Traci Bliss, foreword by Martin Rizzo-Martinez and Mark G. Hylkema

Big Basin Redwood Forest, California’s Oldest State Park shares the epic saga of Big Basin which began in the late 1800s, when the surrounding communities saw their once “inexhaustible” redwood forests vanishing. Expanding railways demanded timber as they crisscrossed the nation. But the more redwoods that fell to the woodman’s axe, the greater the effects on the local climate. California’s groundbreaking environmental movement attracted individuals from every walk of life. From the adopted son of a robber baron to a bohemian woman winemaker to a Jesuit priest, resilient campaigners produced an unparalleled model of citizen action.


Peer Reviewed Academic Articles:

If They Do Not Fulfill What They Have Promised

Article entitled “’If They Do Not Fulfill What They Have Promised, I Will Accuse Them’: Locating Indigenous Women and Their Influence in the California Missions” published in the 2020 Fall edition of Western Historical Quarterly. The article examines the lives of two Indigenous women at Mission Santa Cruz: Yaquenonsat and Yuñan. Their stories help illuminate ways in which Indigenous women maintained and exercised power within mission communities.

This article won the 2020 Arrington-Prucha Prize for best essay of the year on religious history in the West.


The Many Lives of Justiniano Roxas

This article published in the Fall 2018 edition of Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Journal, and was co-written with fellow historian and friend Boyd Cothran. It examines the ways in which Indigenous Californians lives were highly romanticized to fit preconceived notions of American settlers. We discuss the true story of Mission Santa Cruz Indigenous survivor, Justiniano Roxas, who gained international notice in the late 19th century, through a mistaken and fabricated sense of his identity. His true story is much more compelling than the myths that surrounded him.



Non-Peer Reviewed Articles:

Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History History Journal #8 – “Do You Know My Name?”

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) publishes regular history journals that explore themes about local history. The volume “Do You Know My Name?” focuses on overlooked or otherwise marginalized stories, including two stories that I wrote special for this edition. Please consider buying to read the other stories in this volume or becoming a member of the MAH to support the great work that they do. You can also check out their online exhibit of this journal edition, which includes information from my article on Lino.


Indigenous Justice or Padre Killers?: Lino, Fausta and the Assassination of Padre Quintana

This short historical article explores the lives of two individuals involved in the infamous assassination of the sadistic Padre Quintana.



He Came from Indian Kingdom

This short historical article explores the story of Macedonio Lorenzana, who arrived in Alta California in the early 1800s as a 10 year old mestizo orphan from Mexico City. The article examines issues relating to race and identity in Spanish colonial California. Macedonio’s son, Faustino, would eventually become one of the most notorious of outlaws. This is the story of their family.


Dios no mando eso

First published book chapter. An early draft of the Padre Quintana assassination story, exploring the interconnections of the Native men and women involved in the act.


Academic Writing:

No Somos Animales

2016 dissertation, entitled: No Somos Animales: Indigenous Survival and Perseverance in 19th Century Santa Cruz, California. Focuses on stories of Indigenous rebellion and resistance in the Santa Cruz region throughout the 19th century.

The Americanos came like hungry wolves

2010 Master Thesis, entitled: “The Americanos came like hungry wolves”: Ethnogensis and Land Loss in the Formation of Santa Cruz. Focuses on stories about displacement of Californio families living in Santa Cruz in the early era of US statehood.



Article “’If They Do Not Fulfill What They Have Promised, I Will Accuse Them’: Locating Indigenous Women and Their Influence in the California Missions” was voted as top two stories from Western Historical Quarterly in 2020.

In Fall 2021, Martin was awarded the Arrington-Prucha award for best essay of the year on religious history in the West for his article, “’If They Do Not Fulfill What They Have Promised, I Will Accuse Them’: Locating Indigenous Women and Their Influence in the California Missions.”


Book Reviews:

Junipero Serra, California Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary

Review of Rose Marie Beebe & Robert Senkewicz’ book about Junipero Serra.

Prehistoric Games of North American Indians

Review of Voorhies edited volume on Prehistoric Games of North American Indians. 

Marie Mason Potts: The Lettered Life of a California Indian Activist

Review of the book by Terri A. Castaneda.