California Indians and the Missions
Building spiritual based Missions all throughout California was a manner for them to keep ultimate societal. political. and economic control. Spanish adventurers arrived on the boundary line of California during the sixteenth century. The really first Franciscan mission was built in San Diego during 1769.
There were 21 missions in all, lasting from 1769 until about 1833. The mission system brought many new cultural and religious ideas to California, though critics charge the systematic oppression of Native Americans amounted to slavery.Although Spain claimed California as its territory in 1542, Spaniards didn’t try to occupy the land until the late 1700s. Around the time of the first missions, Spain had a considerable presence in Mexico. In 1769, the Spanish king ordered land and sea expeditions to depart from Mexico to California. He also sent military troops and Franciscan missionaries to the new land. Franciscan priest Father Junipero Serra founded the first mission in 1769. This was known as Mission San Diego de Alcalá and was located in present-day San Diego. The native Indians who occupied the region were initially resistant to the mission. In 1775, hundreds of local Tipai-Ipai Indians attacked and burned the San Diego Mission, killing three men, including Father Luis Jayme. The missionaries rebuilt the mission as an army fort.
The arrival and establishment of the missions and presidios drastically reduced the Indian food sources. With the introduction of domesticated animals like sheep, cows, and horses, these grazers ate away at the cultivated food supplies of Indian towns and villages. During the drought seasons, mission grazing animals stripped hillsides bare where emergency food supplies, for the Indians, were located (De Ascencion, Antonio, 2001). Free roaming domestics went wherever they pleased and destroyed a great deal of the native crop.
Unfortunately for the Native Americans--California's first working class--things were only to get worse in the coming years.
Asisara, Lorenzo. “The Killing of Fr. Andres Quintana as Mission Santa Cruz.” In Lands of Promise and Despair, edited by Rose Mary Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz, Santa Clara: Heyday Books, 2001, p. 284-92.
De Ascencion, Antonio “1620: The First Plan for Missions in California,” In Lands of Promise and Despair, edited by Rose Mary Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz, 51-3. Santa Clara: Heyday Books, 2001, p. 52-3.