In 1821, Spain lost control of California to Mexico.
Thirteen years later, the Mexican government outlawed Native American slavery and allowed the 15,000 Native Americans living in missions to leave.
Many cheered when they were told that they were at last free. But sadly they were unable to go back to their old ways of life. Their villages were destroyed, and Mexicans had taken over much of their lands.
With nowhere else to go, most settled on rancherias, huge farms where they lived and worked for wealthy Mexicans.