California missions (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Twenty-one Catholic missions, four military installations, and several towns established Spain's claim to Alta California and altered the lives of thousands of Native Americans.
The worldwide Spanish Empire had gradually developed a mission system that suited imperial policy in places as distant as the Philippines, Paraguay, and Baja California. With a relatively modest investment, the Crown could extend its frontiers and establish opportunities for further expansion later. Two or three missionaries per location could attract indigenous peoples to a different way of life. The native peoples would learn manual trades, farming, cattle-raising, smithing, tanning, weaving, and other rudimentary skills, so that they could manage the institution on their own. A few soldiers at each mission—never more than ten—would enforce discipline. On occasions of serious trouble, appeal could be made to strategically placed presidios that housed sizable, highly mobile military forces capable of putting down any rebellions. When the missions developed enough, a pueblo might be established nearby, able to make use of the growing mission economy without having to follow the often austere mission routine.
The Spanish missionaries, usually members of religious orders (the regular clergy), expected to complete their work in ten years, after which the establishments were to be secularized: The administration of church affairs...
(The entire section is 1469 words.)
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