The Spanish began to establish Missions in Alta California (present day California, as opposed to Baja California) in 1769. They wished to
convert the various native tribes that lived in the region, including the Costanoans, the Coast Miwok, the Pomo, the Yokuts, and the southern Wintun.
Illustration III : Santa Barbara Mission.
Reproduction of painting (20th century).
Lot 4520. LC-USZ62-44216. #44449
In 1822, Mexico gained independence from Spain, and the San Francisco Bay Area became part of Mexican territory. Mexico abolished the mission system in 1834 and awarded individual land grants to native families.
Indians, however, lost land and became indebted workers to Mexican landholders.
Thirteen years later, after its victory over Mexico in the Mexican-American War, the U.S. annexed California.
The passage below describes the treatment of natives under Spanish rule.
After 1769, the life of the California natives who came in contact with the Spanish was reshaped by the mission fathers . . . . The Franciscans came to California not merely to convert the tribes to Christianity but to train them for life in a European colonial society. Conversion was seldom an entirely voluntary process, and converts (neophytes) were not left to return to their old ways but were required to live in the walled mission enclosure or on rancherías, separate settlements sponsored by missions although located some distance from the mission proper.
Source: Library of Congress, American Memory. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/cbhtml/cbmissio.html.
1. Why do you think the Spanish missionaries forced natives to live near the missions even after conversion?
2. When California became a state, the U.S. refused to recognize many of Mexico's land grants to natives, and many natives were dispossessed. How might the U.S. have justified such a policy?