Explore California's 21 Missions

Mission Indians Daily Life
Group Photo of Mission Indians The diet of mission indians
Large numbers of California indians provided labor for the early Spanish missions, indians were not considered equal in social status to the Spanish and were often forced to provide labor. The early photo above shows a group photo of some of those mission indians supporting one mission. The mission indians lived close to or on mission property, the diagram below shows the mission Santa Ines indian living quarters and some of the mission work areas.


All the missions were different, so the mission indians ate a varied diet, depending on the time of year or growing season. The following is an example of what was a typical meal for the mission indians.

Gruel, made of roasted and ground corn or other grains
Corn soup with beans, wheat and a portion of meat
No meal provided by the mission, the indians were required to find or hunt for their own food. Typical indian foods were: deer, elk, rabbit, squirrels, gophers, fish, lizards, mice, birds, bird eggs, seeds, wild fruits and berries, grasses, wild oats and other foods.

Early photo of the padres running the mission Santa Barbara, circa 1883.

Mission Food List
wheat, corn, barley, peas, beans, garbanzos, habas, cabbage, lettuce, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, chilli peppers

beef, pork, lamb, chickens

Fruits: oranges, melons, pears, grapes, pomegranates, apples quinces, plums, peaches, apricots, figs, limes, olives, avaocados, watermelons

Wild Berries:
elderberries, gooseberries, manzanita, toyon, juniper

Wild Seeds and Plants:
chia, mutal, sunflower, acorns, pine nuts, sage, tunas, clover, screwbeans, nopales, agave

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