Janet Dowling Sands
Janet Dowling Sands

The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) presents Global History and the California Missions: A Sea Story with author, artist, educator, and native Californian Janet Dowling Sands, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 16 at the Santa Barbara Harbor, 113 Harbor Way, Ste. 190.

The illustrated presentation will explain how the missions were inextricably linked to global maritime history and prehistory, including the latest research on the origins of  California’s indigenous people, whose ancestors came to the Americas thousands of years before the first European soldiers and missionaries arrived.

Cost to attend is free for SBMM’s Navigator Circle members, $10 for all other members, and $20 for members of the public. There will be a pre-lecture reception for members only, 6:15-6:45 p.m.

Register at: https://sbmm.org/santa-barbara-event/ and become a member at https://sbmm.org.

Sands will discuss the far-reaching geopolitical context of the California missions and presidios to explain why they are here, and the connection of an Enlightenment-era Spanish viceroy who, after launching the mission project in 1769, turned his attention to the success (or failure) of the American Revolution.

Sands will also raise some questions about how we should regard and study the mission era today, when colonialism itself can be a highly controversial topic.

She will conclude with an illustrated 10-minute “road trip” to see the missions and surviving asistencias.

Sands’ skills as a writer, photographer and water-colorist have been applied to recording her travel experiences in illustrated journals and in her book “On A Mission: The Real Story of the California Missions.” Signed copies will be available at the Museum Gift Shop.

Sands holds a degree in art history from the University of California, Berkeley. As a long-time active board member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University, she has spent years working to improve science and nature education for children in Santa Barbara and to support scientific outreach for the public.

She is currently working on her next book, “Collision of Cultures: A Traveler’s History of the American Southwest.”