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Mission Indians

Mission Indians, Native Americans of S and central California; so called because they were under the jurisdiction of some 21 Spanish missions that were established between 1769 and 1823. The major groups were the Chumash, Costanoan, Diegueño, Gabrieleno, Juaneño, and Luiseño. The first mission was established at San Diego. The native population was taught and forced to work at agriculture. The land and the herds of sheep were theoretically owned by the Native Americans themselves, but were held in trust by the Franciscan fathers. The Mission Indians now live on reservations in California. In the 1990 U.S. census there were over 2,000 Native Americans identifying themselves as Mission Indians in the United States, as well as some 3,000 Chumash, 1,000 Costanoan, 2,200 Diegueño, 500 Gabrieleno, 1,500 Juaneño, and 2,800 Luiseño.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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