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California Missions

By Author: John Smith
Total Articles: 42

During the 17th century, Spain desired for wealth and power to grow side by side it wanted the European Countries out of Alta California. These goals could be achieved by building settlement along coast. Missionaries also wanted to convert the Indians into Catholics. By the year 1823, there were in all 21 California Missions linked by the road. In addition, the Spanish settlers nearby built the forts and towns to protect the missions. Places with fresh water, rich in soil and other resources were used to build missions. Indians did most of the work to build missions. The first mission was built out of wood and later adobe was used. First, Indians came by choice but then later, as the system grew they were forced to come. The missions took the lands used by the Indians and thus, Indians had no choice but to join the mission for food. They were also forced by the soldiers to join the California Missions.
The primary aim of the California missions was:
• Being self-sufficient, the work of the mission started with farming where staple food like barley, flour, cereals, wheat etc. were grown. The priest began to grow apples, berries, grapes etc. Raising cattle became a part of their life job.
• There were tanneries, bakeries, carpentry, forges, foundries, etc. within the mission premises.
• Each of the California mission was held responsible to provide the Spanish fort or local presidio with the daily provisions.
• The main goal of the California Mission was to spread Christianity simultaneously among the local people. The priest used to impart the rudimentary education to the native Americans,

Indians and the mission

Before California Missions, the Indians lived in villages, and traded with other villages. They were isolated from other Americans due to deserts and mountain barriers. They worshiped various gods with the name of the Immortal one, the Above Person, and the Earth maker. In short, they lived rich and full lives raising families.
Indians gave their way of life to become Catholics. They were forced to stay on missions, wear Spanish Clothes, obey the priests, and learn Spanish. Some practiced their own traditions while some worked at the farm the whole day, this was allowed only by some missions. Indians were taught to grown European plants and raise animals. They were also taught to use European goods. The worse was, Indians were chained and whipped to force them to convert.
However, missionaries believed they are helping Indians by converting them into the farmers. They also required the food for themselves and the Spanish Soldiers. Some Indians resisted this new way of life and for this; they broke equipment, tools or ran away, whereas some planned revolt.
In the end, Indians lost their old way of life as well as the skills required to stay outside the California Mission. The land once used by the Indians for hunting was converted into farms. By the year 1846 in California, Two-third of Indians died.

Inform yourself about California Missions at Oceanside Mission Museum . Visit museum every day from 9.30 am – 5pm. More info available at this link http://www.sanluisrey.org/museum/

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