The most significant reasons why the missions were so important were: the Spanish wanted to make their presence known within the area, and they also wanted to use the missions to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. The missionaries worked very hard to do just that. One of the people who devoted himself to converting and educating the Native Americans was a man named Father Junipero Serra. Father Junipero Serra founded the first mission in San Diego in the year of 1769.
The missions however served as more than just a religious symbol. The missions served as trade center where different settlers from all around the region could exchange produce and their livestock. Many of the Missions were built on fertile grounds; they in fact provided goods such as wine, olive oil and various grains. However many Native Americans were forced to accept the lifestyle imposed upon them by the Spanish and most importantly the missionaries. Others however willingly agreed to their terms and devoted themselves into the missionaries. In all surprise it was the Native Americans that tended to upkeep the missions and cared for grounded and livestock’s.
Those who did not comply with the Spanish were treated harshly. They often temped to escape from Spanish rule. There were threats to the indigenous population, such as measles and small pox epidemics. As the number of Native Americans declined, the number of people from Mexico living in the area continued to grow.
One of the reasons the Spanish wanted to colonize Alta California was because the Russians were coming to colonize the land which the Spanish explorers like Cabrillo had claimed 200 years earlier. It is important for us to study the missions because they had such a huge impact on the California we see today. One effect is that we see lots of people who speak Spanish in California. As well that there are a lot of people who are Christians today.