- Indian Reductions
Reductions (known as "Reducciones de Indios", or simply "Reducciones" in Spanish; also "Congregacíones") were settlements founded by the Spanish colonizers of the
New Worldwith the purpose of assimilating indigenous populations into European cultureand religion.
Already since the beginning of the Spanish presence in the Americas, the Crown had been concerned with the building of indigenous towns. The evolution of this concern can be seen in the documents issued from the Court such as the "Instrucciones a Ovando" (
1501), the " Leyes de Burgos" ( 1512), and the " Leyes Nuevas" ( 1542). In the instructions to Nicolás Ovando, for example, the Crown ordered that the Indians live in the cities of the Spanish (thus favoring a total assimilation of the indigenous population). The "Leyes de Burgos"--the first law code of the Spanish in the New World--encharged the encomenderos with the indoctrination of the Indians, and decreed that the Indians should live near Spanish settlements, "so that the continuous conversion of those that will have it, through going to church on the feast days to hear mass and the divine rites, and seeing how the Spanish live" would be quickly accomplished.
However, the abuses of the encomenderos and, above all, the evangelistic character of the Spanish state--which based its right over the land and persons of the
Indieson the Papal charge to evangelize them--created an impetus for a better organized missionary involvement. For this, it was essential that the Indians be concentrated in cities and towns of the Spanish style, if well separated from Spanish populations. At the same time, so that the Crown could offer the Indians services and protection, it was necessary that the collection of taxes be efficacious, and this was impossible with a dispersed population. In this way, it can be seen that the goals of the reductions were not only evangelistic, but also demographic, economic, and political.
The effective organization of the reductions dates to
1531, according to the instructions communicated to the second Audiencia of New Spain. In each "reduccion de indios" there was required to be a church staffed by a priest. The priest was to be supported by tributes required of the Indians. The regimen of life in the reduction was communal, and the resources of the reduction (including land) untransferably belonged to the reduction.
The majority of the reductions were incorporated by the Spanish Crown, although some were given to particular people along the lines of the
encomiendas. A collection of reductions incorporated by the crown received the name "corregimiento", which was commanded by a "corregidor". However, this brought with it the growth of corruption, as the post of "corregidor" was bought and did not entail a salary, which provoked all kinds of extortion.
Franciscansand the Jesuits also organized reductions, mainly in the Viceroyalty of Peru. It were these that eventually achieved the most development, success, and fame, especially the Jesuit Reductionsof Paraguay. This was a result in a difference between the application of the reduction system between Viceroyalty of New Spainand the Viceroyalty of Peru. The work of Vasco de Quiroga--the bishop of Michoacánwho founded a number of hospital towns--and Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa--the viceroyof Peru who promoted the system and convinced the Jesuits to work within it--should be especially noted for their efforts to improve the system.
São Miguel das Missõesin Brazil
Jesuit Asia missions
Spanish missions in Arizona
Spanish missions in Baja California
Spanish missions in California
Spanish missions in the Carolinas
Spanish missions in Florida
Spanish missions in Georgia
Spanish missions in Mexico
Spanish missions in New Mexico
Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert
Spanish missions in South America
Spanish missions in Texas
Spanish missions in Trinidad
*Spanish missions in Virginia
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