The Spanish Missions in Arizona
Between 1691 and 1768, Spanish friars travelled north from Mexico into the area that is now the state of Arizona, where they built a series missions and presidios (military forts).
The first Arizona missions were founded by the Jesuits, but after the Jesuits were expelled by the Spanish government in 1767, the operation of the missions was taken over by the Franciscans.
The goal of the friars was to spread the Catholic faith by converting the native Indians, and to establish a productive local economy. The missions were supported by the Spanish colonial government, which saw them as a means of spreading Spanish influence and claiming territory.