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Iroquois & California Indians

The Spanish who arrived in 1769 were interested primarily in setting up a bulwark against Russian infiltration into Upper California (as present-day California was called). Forts and missions were established and the standard procedure of the missionaries was to "bring entire villages into the mission" where the Indians were baptized, and forced to work to provide food for the garrisons and the missions (Shipek 23). In some locations, where arable land was scarce, the missions merely imported a few laborers from each village and appropriated the number of good fields they required. The majority of the Indians continued to live in their villages and lead traditional lives--subject to a few pressures for conversion. But in other locations where the village was incorporated into the mission the greater degree of contact had a great effect on Indian culture because agriculture was interrupted by the requirement that Indians work first for the mission and because the Spaniards substituted their "practice of managing for livestock rather than for food crops" (Shipek 23).

When the Mexican government achieved independence the decision to secularize the missions led to greater levels of disruption among the Native American bands as active settlement began. Though Indians were usually granted some lands, the tenure-use scheme (pueblos for groups and rancherias for individuals) meant they were always subject to sudden displacement. They did not hold the prime lands, however, and many rancherias were actually located inside the grand ranchos granted to Mexicans. The residents of these enclaves became "forced peon labor" (Shipek 26). But, though a number of Indians held better lands, all were subject to harsh laws that made a crime of, for instance, "going to town without a pass from the mayordomo" (Shipek 26). Yet even as Indian life was disrupted to a greater extent than under the mission system, the bands and individuals with land t...

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Iroquois & California Indians. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:11, August 17, 2017, from
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