From the time of its discovery by Grijalva in 1534 until 1607, a number of fruitless attempts had been made by the Mexican authorities to colonize the peninsula of Lower California, and no small amount of treasure had been wasted in the efforts. The sole obstacle to the success of the schemes for colonization lay not in the indolent and peaceably disposed Indians, but in the barren and inhospitable nature of the country itself, the wastes of which offered but moderate subsistence to the natives, and nothing whatever to satisfy the love of adventure and the thirst for wealth of the Spaniard. Finding that all attempts to colonize the new country were failures, the Mexican Government turned it over to the Jesuits, who readily undertook its subjection to ecclesiastical authority. The first settlement was made on the Bay of San Dionisio in 1697. The establishment of the missions proper began immediately, and between this period and 1745 no fewer than fourteen were established on the peninsula. It was not until 1769 that the occupancy of Upper California was inaugurated by the founding of the mission of San Diego by the Franciscans, who had superseded the Jesuits in charge of mission work in western Spanish America. From this date until 1823 mission after mission was established to the number of twenty-one, until the entire coast area of California up to and a little beyond the Bay of San Francisco was under mission sway. As mission history forms one of the most interesting chapters relating to the aborigines of this continent, it is the purpose of the present paper to briefly notice the subject, with especial reference to some of the more salient features of mission life and its effect upon the natives. But, before turning to the subject proper, let us glance at the California Indian as he was found by the missionaries.
REF : 9782366595987