Beginning in the 16th century Spain established missions throughout New Spain (consisting of Mexico and portions of what today are the Southwestern United States) in order to facilitate colonization of these lands.
In the Spring of 1687, a Jesuit missionary named Father Eusebio Francisco Kino lived and worked with the native Americans in the area called the Pimería Alta, or "Upper Pima Country," which presently is located in the areas between the Mexican state of Sonora and the state of Arizona in the United States. During Father Eusebio Kino's stay in the Pimería Alta, he founded over twenty missions in eight mission districts. In Arizona, unlike Mexico, missionization proceeded slowly.
Father Kino founded missions San Xavier and San Gabriel at the Piman communities of Bac and Guevavi along the Santa Cruz River.