Posted by Hatka Hatnaa Posted on 6:49:00 PM
Humans first moved into Baja California from the north perhaps 9,000 or 10,000 years ago,
when the climate was more humid and huge Pleistocene mammals roamed the area. When the Spaniards landed in 1533, they found what were among the most primitive cultures in the Americas. An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 Indians lived at that time in small groups, each exploiting a definite territory for hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. Attempts to colonize the peninsula were fruitless until Jesuit missionaries established the first of a number of permanent settlements at Loreto in 1697. These missionaries congregated, clothed, and catechized the Indians and taught them agriculture and livestock husbandry, but the Indians were practically exterminated in a series of epidemics unwittingly introduced by the Spaniards. In 1768 the Jesuits were replaced by Franciscans, who in turn left the peninsular missions to the Dominican order five years later. By this time few Indians remained in the southern part of the peninsula, and the Dominicans concentrated on founding new missions in the north to convert the still undecimated tribes there. Independence from Spain was recognized in Baja California in 1822. The missions were gradually abandoned, and the vanished Indians were replaced by a sparse population of mestizo farmers and cattlemen. After the Mexican War (1846–48), the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave California proper to the United States and assigned Lower California—i.e., the Baja peninsula—to Mexico.