When Spanish missionaries set down roots in Alta California (Upper California), life as the California Indians had known it disappeared.
They could no longer hunt and gather food in the same way. They could no longer travel the routes they had followed for hundreds of years. Tens of thousands of California Indians were captured by Spanish soldiers and forced into slave labor on missions. They were made to give up their language, their style of dress, and their religion.
Some California Indians were able to adapt to new ways of life on the missions. Others tried to run away. Still others chose to fight the newcomers who had taken over their lands.
Mission life was hard work. Cattle had to be raised, and crops had to be planted and harvested. Settlers came to buy and sell goods, and the Spanish benefited from a stronger economy. Communities grew around the missions as California’s population increased.