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Each frontier station was forced to be self-supporting, as existing means of supply were inadequate to maintain a colony of any size.
It was these simple huts that ultimately gave way to the stone and adobe buildings that exist to the present.
To sustain a mission, the padres required converted Native Americans, called neophytes, to cultivate crops and tend livestock in the volume needed to support a fair-sized establishment.
The scarcity of imported materials, together with a lack of skilled laborers, compelled the missionaries to employ simple building materials and methods in the construction of mission structures.
Although the missions were considered temporary ventures by the Spanish hierarchy, the development of an individual settlement was not simply a matter of "priestly whim." The founding of a mission followed longstanding rules and procedures; the paperwork involved required months, sometimes years of correspondence, and demanded the attention of virtually every level of the bureaucracy.
Once empowered to erect a mission in a given area, the men assigned to it chose a specific site that featured a good water supply, plenty of wood for fires and building materials, and ample fields for grazing herds and raising crops.