Converting California Indians to Christianity was only one reason that the Spanish built missions. Equally important was defending Spain’s claim to the territory.
The government needed presidios, or forts, staffed with soldiers who could defend the coastline. Soldiers also provided labor. They forced people from the region to join the mission community.
Presidio soldiers needed food, clothing, and shelter. The padres forced the California Indians to build pueblos, or farming villages, near the missions, to meet the soldiers’ basic needs. Promise of profit in the pueblos helped to draw more people to Alta California.