The California Mission system is well known for its architecture, irrigation engineering and manufactured goods. Despite this, the Missions have a darker history that is lesser known and talked about. La Purisima was one of the more financially successful missions in the system, yet, it was no stranger to the system’s dark side.
La Purisima’s success came in part due to its location and the high population of Chumash. The clergy of La Purisima enslaved the native Chumash population in order to make them tend to the livestock and to produce goods such as fabrics, candles and preserved foods. The surplus would then be traded and sold to European explorers and other travelers passing through the area. Certain goods such as clothes and blankets the Mission received from trading introduced new diseases to the Chumash. The clergy even dictated the Chumash’s personal lives to the extent where they needed permission from the clergy to marry each other only after they converted to Christianity, were banned from entering the mission except for special occasions and were punished for breaking mundane arbitrary rules set by the clergy. All of this was a major contributing factor to the downfall of La Purisima and the rest of the Mission system as a whole.