Native American



In general, the Mission era was devastating to California’s coastal indigenous people. Below are examples of the work done for the Missions by Native Americans.. Also, included are examples of resistence by misison (conscripted) workers. 

  • Preface
  • 1774: Indians paid in food, They harvested sardines, grew wheat. Technology was water powered grist mill, wheat hauled on backs, metal tipped shares on plow, forest land cleared with machetes.
  • 1781: San Juan Capistrano Mission—Indians planted 2,000 grape vines, handled all wine making; training vines, cuttings, harvest, made vats.
  • 1797: Settlers “hired” Indians to clear land. Wages: 6 cents a day or 3 reales.
  • 1798: Olives planted by Indians in San Diego for oil.
  • 1812: Padre Quintana of Santa Cruz mission is assassinated by native field hand.
  • 1820: San Gabriel Mission at its height had 170 acres of vineyards. 50,000 vines. Indians picked tons of grapes a day.
  • 1821: Mexico gains independence from Spain.
  • 1822: Indians are captured from jails and from “the wild” as indentured farm hands.
  • 1824: Uprising at Santa Barbara, La Purisima, Santa Inez-sparked by the public flogging of a native from La Purisima—hundreds of Chumash armed themselves with bows and arrows, took control of Santa Inez mission, burned soldier’s quarters, held out for a month at La Purisima, surrendered to a military armed with cannons.
  • 1830: Two hundred ninety Indians broke free of missions and set up farming community near Bakersfield. Found healthy and flourishing 10 years later by fur trapper traveling by. Cunning assassinations began to take their toll on Mission staff.
  • 1834: Indians cultivated and maintained 10,000 acres of land for missions and constructed large scale irrigation systems.
  • 1850: California Statehood. 
  • 1835: Mexico secularizes the Spanish missions. At that time, most Native American populations were only a fraction of previous their peak populations as a result of attrition or death. 
  • 1860s: The migrant work force was composed of Native Americans, whites, Californios, and Mexicans are migrant labor force.

Books and References

Anderson, Burton. The Salinas Valley, A History of America’s Salad Bowl. A Monterey County Historical Society Publication. 2000.

References for the Above