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The Native Americans have a long and interesting history, and that history gets even more complicated, and in many cases, unfair, when viewed through the eyes of the early mission system of California. The California Missions were established by the Spanish, as a means to colonize and evangelize the Pacific Coast region. They were created by the Spanish Franciscan Order between the years of 1769 and 1823, chiefly as a method to convert the local Native Americans to Catholicism. With the arrival of the Spanish, along came European food and livestock, but also a new host of problems and diseases previously unknown to the Native tribes. The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus became famous via Spanish history as being one of the first people to explore the western coast of this region, known to Spain and the rest of Europe as New Spain (modern-day Mexico and Southwestern United States). The area now known as California was called Alta California, but is generally referred to in history as “Spanish California.” One of the main goals of the Spanish explorers, prior to settling this land, was to “make peace” with the local tribes, which were perceived as hostile, through the methods of colonization and conversion to Christianity.
During the times of the Missions, 146 Friars served in ten-year service spans to the new colonies in California. Two Friars served each Mission, and the Governor of Alta California assigned each settlement a collection of Spanish guards, who ended up assisting in duties more than actually guarding the Friars. It was important that each settlement become a completely self-dependent, self-contained unit, and through the cultivation of food and goods, they were able to attract and make peace with local tribes. During these interactions of trading, the Mission Friars would evangelize to the Natives about salvation through Jesus Christ, promising a new life free of sin and freedom in all aspects.
However, once the Native “gentiles” were baptized, they became what was called a “neophyte,” or new believer. This happened quickly, as the neophytes were only educated on the most basic things, the fundamentals of the faith. Once a Native received baptism into the Catholic Church, however, the new life of freedom promised through salvation very seldom materialized. The Friars viewed these new believers as being potentially irresponsible, and did not allow them the free run of the land they were used to. Instead, the Natives found themselves indebted, almost in a form of slavery, to the Mission and it's works. The men were held onto for labor, and would follow a daily routine set by the Friars of hard labor in the day and worship in the evening. The neophytes worked in the fields to produce fruits and vegetables, or with livestock, or in the continual building and expansion of the mission buildings, the most elaborate of which was The Great Stone Church at Mission San Juan Capistrono in modern-day Orange County. The women were required to join a convent, becoming nuns, and were supervised and educated. Courting, or dating, was only allowed to male Natives whom the Friars deemed acceptable, and always occurred through steel bars in cell-type areas. If the women became married, they were allowed to begin a family in one of the Mission's family units.
The daily routine for all neophytes consisted of a sunrise Mass with prayers, and more classes teaching deeper meanings of Christianity. The men and women were then educated and/or assigned various tasks, mostly involving hard labor for the men and artistic and practical skills for the women. The work day usually lasted six hours, with the remainder of the day consisting of a humble meal, a two-hour period of rest, evening meal, prayers, and then time for social events as supervised by the Friars. The neophytes were not paid, as they were considered grateful servants of the Missions. This free labor, and production of goods and and foods by the Mission settlements, gave the Alta California Missions, and Spanish California, a heavy economic advantage over Mexican settlements of the same area, who had to pay for their labor and had higher costs. Due to the virtual enslavement of the Native American people in modern-day Southern California, Spain eventually won control of the area from Mexico, and settled it prominently as the New Spain.
- Mission Accessories 7 x 10 Download $9.95
- Mission Accessories 10 x 13 Download $19.95Sale price: $17.95
- Mission Accessories 7 x 10 Printed Kit $11.95
- Mission Accessories 10 x 13 Printed Kit $19.95
- Mission Accessories 13 x 16 Printed Kit $24.95