The ranchos established during the Mexican period of California history relied on the labor of native Americans. Unlike the Mission properties, ranchos did not attempt to prevent workers from escaping or to recapture those who had left; but under what conditions did they work? Were they coerced in any fashion? Did any receive a cash salary?

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To make the answer short not very well. Their treatment under the ranchos was pretty much the same as their treatment under the Missions. The articles mentioned they were paid in goods and alcohol, though some may have been paid in cash or script, I guess it would depend on the Ranchero.

"A California rancho might employ as few as twenty or as many as several hundred Indian workers... Most of the former Mission Indians were taken over by the rancheros and continued work without interruption for their new masters. The important difference between the work at the rancho and at the mission was on the rancho the communal relationship was lacking: the profits of the Indian labor were appropriated almost entirely by the ranchero." - Indians of California: The Changing Image, James Rawls

"The Indians did the most menial labor on ranchos and were often little more than slaves, paid in scanty clothing and alcohol. Some rancheros (rancho owners) treated Indians well but most did not." - http://www.anneisaacs.com/content/background-mexican-americans-california-19th-century

"After secularization, the economy of California was entirely based on the Mexican ranchos, which employed a system of peonage imported from Mexico. It was a particularly harsh form of feudalism, without the veneer of a righteous mission of Christian conversion and bordering on slavery. Indians living close to Mexican occupation found that their natural environment had been so far degraded that their only survival option was laboring in the ranchos. But their wages were carefully maintained at survival's minimum, only, and there was no prospect of bettering themselves. They were often paid much of their wage in alcohol, at week's end, which kept them immobilized until they had to return at the week's beginning." - http://mojavedesert.net/california-indian-history/03.html

"By the time the last secularization decrees had been issued, California had begun to assume a feudal aspect. By the end of 1845, all the Southern California Missions had been sold or their properties leased, and extensive ranchos, with vast herds of cattle and horses, operated by thousands of Indian retainers, had replaced the Mission establishments." - http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/comm/steen/cogweb/Chumash/McWilliams.html

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