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In 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo ventured into the region, but it proved to be the last exploration for 50 years.Later, as trade grew between Mexico and the Philippines, it became clear that a supply station on the western coast of Baja California would provide a welcome refuge for ships arriving from the long Pacific voyage.In the late 1700s, the Dominicans became active in Baja California.By 1800, they had established nine new missions in the northern part of Baja and continued to oversee the existing Jesuit missions.The end of Spanish rule in Mexico spelled the end of the missions’ administrative authority as well.After gaining its independence in 1821, Mexico established Baja California as a federal territory; in 1832, the governor converted all the missions into parish churches.

The Spanish presence on the peninsula consisted primarily of missions, and the missions were closely linked to the Spanish crown.In January 1683, the Spanish government provisioned three ships with 200 men and gave them a mandate to colonize the peninsula.The expedition, led by Sinaloa’s governor Isidro de Atondo y Antillón, sailed into the Sea of Cortés and attempted its first settlement at La Paz; however, hostility from local tribes forced the expedition to move on.The Cochimí, who lived on the mainland, were hunters and gatherers, but an isolated group of Cochimí living on Cedros Island developed a fairly complex agricultural system.The Guaycura and the Pericú lived by hunting, gathering and fishing.

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