In 1769 the Spanish sent explorers to a
part of Upper California called Alta California. They intended
to settle the area.
In 1776 Spain was becoming weak and King
Carlos III and those in charge were afraid that other powers
would take over this area, so a military and religious expedition
was sent. Their orders were to found a system of forts, and missions.
The missionaries job was to convert the Indians to Christianity
and also to supply the army. The Indians would be used as labor
on the mission lands. In 1769 the first mission was established
in San Diego. There were 21 missions, four Presidios (forts)
and 3 Pueblos (towns). The two missions founded in the Los Angeles
area were San Gabriel (1773) and San Fernando(1797)
Father Junipero Serra, a member of the
Franciscan Order, lead the missionaries. The Indians were brought
to work on the lands and become Christians. Once they were converted,
they were never allowed to leave and go back to their old ways
Disease killed off many of the Indians,
the Tongva included, because they could not withstand the new
germs introduced into their system by the Spanish. They died
from chicken pox, pneumonia, smallpox, measles, syphilis and
tuberculosis. The numbers of native people were greatly reduced.
These two forces, the mission system and
new diseases, brought about the end of their ancient culture
and way of life.