Spanish Indian Missions of Texas

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13158

Did they come to protect silver mines in Mexico or to spread Christianity to the natives? A little of both, really. But either way, the Spanish coming into Texas left a big mark on this big state!


United States

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Can you guess which Spanish mission in Texas became a military outpost and the scene of a famous battle?

Texans (and most Americans) should be familiar with the cry, "Remember Mission San Antonio de Valero!"

  • No, you don't remember that one?

Well, maybe you know it by its more common name!

In the 1600s and 1700s, Spain established Indian missions throughout Texas in their efforts to colonize the region.

Their goal was to influence the natives by spreading Spanish culture and Christianity. The Spanish also used these missions and their presence to protect their silver mines, to introduce agriculture and livestock, and to keep the French out of their territory!

The Spanish friars, of course, sought to convert the Indians and spread Christianity while teaching the natives the new skills they would need to survive in the new (European) society.

Many of the missions became the seed of well-known Texas cities, such as El Paso and San Antonio. Look at the map below to see the locations of many of these missions:

Spanish missions map

Image by the National Park Service, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Watch Spanish Missions in Texas, from Studies Weekly, for a quick look at the purpose and history of the missions:

The video mentioned that the influence of Spanish missions is still felt in Texas today.

  • What were some effects of that influence?

Look through the images below to find out!

Explore fun and interesting Mission Facts, from Texas Mission Guide. Click on each question to see its answer. Then, click on the included link to take a look at the mission itself.

Many of the missions, especially those in east Texas, did not survive long. Sometimes, the natives didn't want to be part of the mission system. Sometimes, the friars or natives died from disease. Sometimes, the missions were attacked by hostile native tribes.

The Indians often had a hard time adjusting to the diet of the missions, red meat and corn, which differed from their traditional diet of wild game, fish, nuts, seeds, and roots.

The missions in the Rio Grande Valley, which served the Coahuiltecans, were more successful. The Coahuiltecans were eager to learn Christianity, and the friars there baptized thousands and taught them new skills. Unfortunately, many Coahuiltecans ended up dying from European diseases.

Some of the missions were destroyed, and some have fallen into ruin. However, many have been preserved and are visited by people who want to learn more about this period of Texas history.

Watch the Travel Thru History video below about San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The park is named for Mission San Antonio de Valero, which is also known as the Alamo -- as in "Remember the Alamo!" You probably already guessed that, didn't you?

As you watch the video, write down your answers to the following:

  • What are the five missions included in this historical park? Name something special about each one.
  • What are some ways the buildings have been used since mission time?

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - San Antonio, Texas - Travel Thru History:

Now that you've learned a bit about the Spanish missions of Texas, move on to the Got It? section, where you'll do some research on the missions and make a travel brochure for one!

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