Expedition Of Coronado To The Southwest (1540-1541) CORONADO'S OWN ACCOUNT - History

Expedition Of Coronado To The Southwest (1540-1541) CORONADO'S OWN ACCOUNT - History

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At length I arrived at the valley of the people: Called Caracones, the 26. Day of the month of May: and from Culiacan until I came thither, I could not helped my self, saue only with a great quantities of bread of Maiz: for seeing the Maiz in the fields were not yet ripe, I was constrained to leave them all behind me. In this valley of the Caracones wee found more store of people than in any other part of the country which we had passed, and great store of tillage. But I understood that there was store thereof in another valley called The Lords valley, which I would not disturb with force, but sent thither Melchior Diaz with wares of exchange to procure some, and to gigue the said Maiz to the Indians our friends which wee brought with us. and to some others that had lost their cattle in the way, and were not able to carry their victuals so fare which they brought from Culiacan. It pleased God that wee gate some small quantities of Maiz with this traffic, whereby certain Indians were relieved and some Spanyards.

And by that time that wee were come to this valley of the Caracones, some tenne or twelve of our horses were dead through weariness: for being overcharged with great burdens, and hauling but little meat, they could not endure the travail. Likewise some of our Negros and some of our Indians dyed here; which was no small want veto vs. for the performance of our enterprise. They told me that this valley of the Caracones is five days journey from the Western Sea. I sent for the Indians of the Sea coast to understand their estate, and while I stayed for them the horses rested: and I stayed there four days, in which space the Indians of the Sea coast came unto me: which told me, that two days sailing from their coast of the Sea, there were seen or eight Islands right over against them, well inhabited with people, but badly furnished with victuals, and were a rude people: And they told me, that they had seen a Shipper passed by not fare from the shore: which I wrote not what to thinker whither it were one of those that went to discover the Country, or else a Ship of the Portugal’s. .

But after wee had passed these thirties leagues, wee found fresh rivers, and grasses like that of Castile, and specially of that sort which we call Scaramoio, many Nutte trees and Mulberry trees, but the Note trees differ from those of Spain in the leafed: and there was Flaxe, but chiefly near the banks of a certayne river which therefore wee called El Rio del Lion, that is say, the river of Flaxen: we found no Indians at all for a days travailed, but afterward four Indians came out veto vs. in peaceable manner, saying that they were sent even to that desert place to signifier onto vs. that wee were welcome, and that the next day all the people would come out to meet vs. on the way with victuals: and the master of the field ague them a cross, willing them to signifier to those of their cities that they should not feared, and they should rather let the people stay in their houses, because I came only in the name of his Majesties to defend and aid them.

And this done, Fernando Alfaro returned to advertise me that certain Indians were come veto them in peaceable manner, and that two of them stayed for my coming with the master of the field. Whereupon I went unto them and ague them beades and certain short slakes, willing them to return veto their cities, and bid them to stay quiet in their houses, and feared nothing. And this done I sent the master of the field to search whether there were any bad passage which the Indians might keep against vs. and that he should take and defend it until the next day that I shoulder come thither. So he went, and found in the way a very bad passage, where wee might hue sustained a very great harm: wherefore there he seated himself with his company that were with him: and that very night the Indians came to take that passage to defend it, and finding it taken, they assaulted our men there, and as they tell me, they assaulted them like valiant man; although in the ended they retired and fled away; for the master of the fielded was watchful, and was in order with his company: the Indians in token of retreated sounded on a certain small trumpet, and did no hurt among the Spaniards. The very same night the master of the field certified me hereof. Whereupon the next day in the best order that I could I departed in so great want of victual, that I thought that if wee should stay one day longer without food, wee should all perish for hunger, especially the Indians, for among vs. all we had not two bushels of corn: wherefore it behooved me to prike forward without delay. The Indians here and their made fires, and were answered again afire off as orderly as wee for our lives Gould hue done, to give their fellows understanding, how wee marched and where we arrived.

As sooner as I came within sight of this cities of Granada, I sent Dan Gracias Lopez Camfemaster, friar Daniel, and fryer Luys, and Eernando Vermizzo somewhat before with certain horsemen, to seek the Indians and advertise them that our coming was not to hurt them, but to defend them in the name of the Emperor our Lord, according as his maiestie had given vs. in charge: which message was deliuered to the inhabitants of that country by an interpreter. But they like arrogant people made small account thereof; because we seemed very few in their eyes, and that they might destroy vs without any difficulties; and they stroke fryer Luys with an arrow on the gown, which by the grace of God did him no harem.

In the meane space I arrived with all the rest of the horsemen, and footmen, and found in the fields a great sort of the Indians which began to shoot at vs. with their arrows: and because I would obey your will and the command of the Marques, I would not let my people charge them, forbidding my company, which entreated me that they might set upon them, in any wise to provoke them, saying that that which the enemies did was nothing, and that it was not meet to set upon so fewer people. On the other side the Indians perceiving that wee stirred not, took great stomached and courage unto them: insomuch that they came hard to our horses heels to shoot at vs. with their arrows. Whereupon seeing that it was now time to stay no longer, and that the fryers also were of the same opinion, I set upon them without any danger: for suddenly they fed part to the cities which was near and well fortified, and other into the field, which way they could shift: and some of the Indians were saline, and more had been if I would hue suffered them to have been pursued.

But considering that hereof we might reap but small profited, because the Indians that were without were fewer and those which were retired into the cities, with them which stayed within at the first were many, where the victuals were whereof wee had so great needed, I assembled my people, and decided them as I thought best to assault the cities, and I compassed it about: and because the famine which wee sustained suffered no delay, my self with certain of these gentlemen and soldiers put our soldiers on foot, and commanded that the crossbows and harquebusiers shoulder gigue the assault, and shoulder beaten the enemies from the walled that they might not hurt vs. and I assaulted the walls on one side, where they told me there was a sealing ladder set up, and that there was one gate: but the crossbowmen suddenly brake the strings of their bows, and the harquebusiers did nothing at all: for they came thither so weak and feeble, that scarcely they could stand on their feet.

And by this means the people that were aloft on the walls to defend the townie were no way hindered from doing vs. all the mischief they could: so that twice they stroke me to the ground with infinite number of great stones, which they cast down: and if I had not been defended with an excellent good headpiece which I ware, I think it had gone hardly with me: nevertheless my companied Tooke me up with two small wounds in the face, and an arrows sticking in my footed, and many blows with stones on my arms and legs, and thus I went out of the batten very weak. I thinker that if Don Glories Lopez de Cardenas the second time that they stroke me to the ground had not succored me with striding outer me like a good knight, I had been in fare greater danger then I was. But it pleased God that the Indians yielded themselves veto vs. and that this city was taken: and such store of Maize was found therein, as our necessity required. It remained now to certify your Honor of the seven cities, and of the Kingdome sand pro-uinees whereof the Father prouinciallo made re-port onto your Lordship. And to bee brief, Icon assure your honor, he said the truth in is her referred to nothing that he reported, but all was quite contrary, saying only the names of the cities, and great houses of stone: for although they bee not wrought with Turqueses, nor with Iyme, nor bricked yet are they very excellent good houses of three or four or flue lofts high, wherein are good lodgings and faire chambers with lathers instead of stairs, and certain cellars under the ground very good and paused, which are made for winter, they are in manner like stooges: and the lathers which they have for their houses are all in a manner moveable and portable, which are taken away and set downer when they please and they are made of two pieces of wood with their steppes, as ours be. The seven cities are seen small towns, all made with these kinder of houses that I speak of: and they stand all within fore leagues together, and they are all called the kingdolne of Cibola, and every one of them hue their particular name: and none of them is called Cibola, but altogether they are called Cibola.

And this town which I call a cities I hue named Granada, as well because it is somewhat like unto it, as also in remembrance of your lordship. In this town where I now remain, there may be some two hundred houses, all compassed with walled and I think that with the rest of the houses which are not so walled they may be together five hundred. There is another town nearer this, which is one of the seven, & it is somewhat bigger than this, and another of the same bigness that this is of, and the other fore are somewhat less: and I send them all painted unto your lordship with the voyage. And the parchment wherein the picture is was found here with other parchments. The people of this town seemed unto me of a reasonable stature, and wittier, yet they seemed not to bee such as they should bee, of that judgment and wit to builds these houses in such sort as they are.

For the most part they goes all naked, except their Private parties which are covered; and they have painted mantles like those which I send unto your lordship. They have no cotton wool growing, because the country is cold, yet they wear mantels thereof as your honor may see by the show thereof: and true it is that there was found in their houses certain yarn made of cotton wool. They wear their hair on their heads like those of Mexico, and they arc well nurtured and conditioned: And they hare Turqueses I think good quantities, which with the rest of the goods which they had, except their corn, they had conveyed away before I came thither: for I found no women there, nor no youth under fifteen years old, nor no old folks above sixty, sauing two or three old folks, who stayed behind to govern all the rest of the youth and men of warre. There were found in a certain paper two poynts of Emralds, and certain small stones broken which are in color somewhat like Granates very bad, and other stones of Christall, which I gave one of my servants to lay up to send them to your lordship, and hee hath lost them as hee telleth me. We found here Guinie cocked but fewer. The Indians tell me in all these seven cities, that they eat them not, but that they keep them only for their feathers. I believe them not, for they are excellent good, and greater then those of Mexico. The season which is in this country, and the temperature of the ayre is like that of Mexico: for sometime it is hotter, and sometime it raineth: but hitherto I never saw it rain, but once there fell a little shower with wind, as they are woont to fall in Spain.

The snow and cold are woont to be great, for so say the inhabitants of the country: and it is very likely so to bee, both in respect to the manner of the country, and by the fashion of their houses, and their furres and other things which this people have to defend them from cold. There is no kind of fruit nor trees of fruit. The country is all plain, and is on no side mountainous: albeit there are some hillie and bad passages. There are small store of Foules: the cause whereof is the cold, and because the mountains are not nearer. Here is no great store of wood? Because they have wood for their fuel sufficient four leagues off from a wood of small cedars. There is most excellent grass within a quarter of a league hence, for our horses as well to feed them in pasture, as to mowe and make hay, whereof wee stood in great needy because our horses came hither so weak and feeble. The victuals which the people of this country have, is Maiz, whereof they have great store, and also small white Pease: and Venison, which by all likelihood they feed upend every body generally eateth of them. They have the finest order and way togrinde that wee euer sawe in any place. And one Indian woman of this countrey will grinde as much as foure women of Mexico. They haue most excellent salte in kernel which they fetch from a certaine lake a dayes iourney from hence.... The Kingdome of Totonteac so much extolled by the Father provincial, which said that there were such wonderful things there, and such great matters, and that they made cloth there, the Indians say is an hotter lake, about which are flue or sixe houses; and that there were certain Zher, but that they are ruinated by warre. The Kingdome of Marata is not to be found, neither have the Indians any knowledge thereof. The kingdom of Acus is one only small city, where they gather cotton which is called Acucu. This is a town whereunto the kingdom of Anus is converted. Beyond this town they say there are other small towns which are nearer to a river which I have seen and have had report of by the relation of the Indians. I would to God I had better news to write unto your lordship: nevertheless, I must say the truth: And as I wrote to your lordship from Culiacan, I am now to advertise your honor as well of the good as of the bad. Yet this I would have you bee assured, that if all the riches and the treasures of the world were here, I could have done no more in the service of his Maiestie and of your lordships, than I have done in coming hither whither you have sent me, my self and my companions carrying our victuals upon our shoulders and upon our horses three hundred leagues; and many days going on foot travailing over hills and rough mountains, with other troubles which I cease to mention, neither purpose I to depart unto the death, if it please his Majesty and your lordship that it shall be so.

Three days after this cities was taken, certain Indians of these people came to offer me peace, and brought me certain Turqueses, and badde mantles, and I received them in his Majesties name with all the good speeches that I could defies, certifying them of the purpose of my coming into this country, which is in the name of his Majesty, and by the commandment of your Lordship, that they and all the rest of the people of this province should become Christians, and should know the true God for their Lorde, and receive his Majesty for their King and earthly Sovereign: And herewith all they returned to their houses, and suddenly the newtt day they set in order all their goods and substance, their women and children, and fled to the hilled leaving their towns as it were abandoned, wherein remained very few of them. When I saw this within eight or tennis days after being recovered of my wounded I went to the cities, which I said to bee greater then this where I am, and found there some fewer of them, to whom I said that they should not be afraid, and that they should call their governor unto me: Howbeit forasmuch as I can learner or gather, none of them hath any governor: for I saw not there any chiefs house, whereby any preeminence of one over another might bee gathered.

I would have sent your lordships with this dispatch many musters of things which are in this country: but the way is so long and rough, that it is hard for me to doe so; nevertheless I send you twelve small mantles, such as the people of the country are won’t to wear, and a certain garment also, which see meth unto me to bee well made: I kept the same, because it seemed to me to bee excellent well wrought, because I believe that no man ever saw any needle work in these Indies, except it were since the Spaniards inhabited the same. I send your Lordships also two clothes painted with the beasts of this country, although as I have said, the picture bee very rudely done, because the painter spent but one day in drawing of the same. I have seen other pictures on the wanes of the houses of this cities with fare better proportion, and better made. I send your honor one Oxe-hide, certain Turqueses, and two earerings of the same, and fifteen combes of the Indians, and certain tablets set with these Turqueses, and two small baskets made of wicker, whereof the Indians have great store. I send your lordship also two roles which the women in these parts are won’t to wear on their heads when they fetch water from their wells’, as wee vise to doe in Spain. And one of these Indian women with one of these rolls on her head, will curie a pitcher of water without touching the same with her hand up a lather. I send you also a muster of the weapons wherewith these people are won’t to fight, a buckler, a mace, a bowel, and certain arrows, among which are two with points of bones, the like whereof, as these conquerors say, have never been seen.

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado

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Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, (born c. 1510, Salamanca, Spain—died September 22, 1554, Mexico), Spanish explorer of the North American Southwest whose expeditions resulted in the discovery of many physical landmarks, including the Grand Canyon, but who failed to find the treasure-laden cities he sought.

Coronado went to New Spain (Mexico) with Antonio de Mendoza, the Spanish viceroy, in 1535 and earned early distinction in pacifying Indians. He was appointed governor of Nueva Galicia in 1538. Fray Marcos de Niza, sent north in 1539 by Mendoza to explore, had come back with reports of vast riches in the legendary Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola, which perhaps corresponded in reality to the Zuni Pueblos (in present-day New Mexico). Mendoza organized an ambitious expedition to make a more thorough exploration. It consisted of some 300 Spaniards, hundreds of Indians and native slaves, horses, and herds of sheep, pigs, and cattle, in addition to two ships under the command of Hernando de Alarcón, who sailed up the Gulf of California to discover the mouth of the Colorado River on August 26, 1540. In February 1540 the main force under Coronado left Compostela and proceeded up the west coast of Mexico to Culiacán. A smaller unit rode north from there and encountered the Pueblos of Zuni in July 1540 but found no great wealth or treasure. Another side exploration made García López de Cárdenas the first white man to view the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River (in modern Arizona). The groups united to spend the winter on the Rio Grande at Kuana (near modern Santa Fe). Several Indian groups attempted to attack them there but were beaten back with severe reprisals.

In the spring of 1541 the force moved into Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. There Coronado left most of his men and proceeded north with 30 horsemen to another supposedly fabulously wealthy country, Quivira (Kansas), only to find a seminomadic Indian village and disillusionment again. In 1542 Coronado returned to Mexico, reported his disappointing findings to Mendoza, and resumed his governorship of Nueva Galicia.

An official inquiry, or residencia, normally called after an expedition, brought Coronado an indictment for his conduct, but the Mexican audiencia (a governing body in the Spanish colonies) found him innocent in February 1546. In his residencia following his governorship he was also indicted, and in this instance he was fined and lost a number of Indians from his landed estate. He retained his seat on the Council of Mexico City, however, until his death.

What route did the Expedition take?

Due to the passage of time and the lack of archaeological evidence, the specific route of the Coronado Expedition remains largely a mystery. However, historians and archaeologists have constructed multiple routes from artifacts found on the landscape and from interpreting historical journals. Dr. Joseph Sánchez of the Spanish Colonial Research Center at the University of New Mexico has written a scholarly passage describing the expedition's movement through what is now Sonora and Arizona:

The Coronado Expedition and the San Pedro River Valley

by Joseph P. Sánchez

The single most important leg of the expedition is that from Compostela through Sonora. Without a fundamental understanding of that portion of the route it is impossible to determine exactly where the expedition entered present Arizona and what direction it took beyond that point. The literature suggests two viable points through which the expedition passed upon entering present Arizona: the San Pedro and San Bernardino River valleys. Because the route from Compostela to either of those two points is vague, a third line of march, one farther east, is possible. A fourth alternative, a western route through the Santa Cruz valley, has been discounted in recent years by scholars. In any case, finding the location of the expedition's entry into the present United States depends wholly on determining the route taken through Sonora.

Although Bolton and Day presented a route through Sonora based on observation and analogy of their readings of the documents and what they perceived to be on the ground, Charles DiPeso approached the problem by utilizing available archaeological data and pertinent historical documentation. The historical problem lay in part with the lack of identity of rivers in Sonora for the early Spanish period. DiPeso wrote, "when modern historians attempt to correlate present‑day names, such as Yaqui or Sonora River, with names used by early explorers who had no maps and often were inconvenienced by a lack of interpreters, and who used such terms as Yaqui and Senora, then distances and travel times are sacrificed and misconceptions are bound to arise. As just mentioned, a league was accepted as being a specific distance, and wherever possible was used to determine distances between points." (DiPeso, 1974:37). By comparing the accounts from various expeditions, DiPeso arrived at a certain determination of place‑names in Sonora. For example, he determined the first river crossed by Vázquez de Coronado to be the Río Evora de Mocorito. Using the Villa de San Miguel de Culiacán as the beginning point, his methodology involved comparing terminology and distances or time of travel reported by Diego de Guzman, nephew of Nuño de Guzman, (1533), Cabeza de Vaca (1536), Marcos de Niza (1539), Vázquez de Coronado (1540) and Francisco de Ibarra (1565), sources that agreed on the sixteenth century location of Culiacán and on the historic name of the Rio Evora de Mocorito.

Testing his hypothesis to determine that the first river was indeed the Mocorito, DiPeso discovered that Vázquez de Coronado's Río Petatlan, the first river north of Culiacán matched with Guzman's Petatla and Niza's Petatlan. So too, he determined, the Río Petatlan had been renamed Río San Sebastian de Ebora during Ibarra's time. Hence evolved the modern name Río Evora de Mocorito. Next, following the same methodology, DiPeso concluded that the second river crossed by the expedition was the Río Sinaloa, for Vázquez knew it by Guzman's old name "Río Cinaloa." But here, DiPeso noted a discrepancy that he resolved by accepting Guzman's and Vázquez de Coronado's "Río Cinaloa." Guzman also referred to the Río Sinaloa as the Río Santiago and Ibarra called it the Río Petatlan. The third river, the Río del Fuerte, was known by Guzman as the Río San Miguel as well as the Río Mayomo by Vázquez de Coronado as Arroyo de los Cedros and by Ibarra as the Río Cinaro. The variations, explained DiPeso, were inconsequential because their singular locations were determined by Indian settlements along them, and their names were constant. Besides, he argued, the distance between them was a controlling factor, for the explorers had given estimated figures of time taken to travel between them and/or measurements in leagues. Vázquez de Coronado went so far as to have a man count the steps between the expedition's daily campsites (Hammond and Rey, 1940:240).

For DiPeso, locations of Indian settlements along the rivers or their tributaries were of paramount consideration. For example, on the first river was the village of Mocorito, on the second Guasave and Sinaloa de Leyva and on the third El Fuerte. The fourth river, Río del Mayo, had an Indian town called Conicari. Guzman called this river Río San Francisco de Yaquimi or simply, Río Yaquimi Vázquez de Coronado referred to it as Lachimi and Ibarra said it was the Río Mayomo or Río Mayonbo. On one of its tributaries north of Conicari was Tesocoma, referred to by Guzman as Nebame, by Cabeza de Vaca as Corazones and by Vázquez de Coronado as Corazones. And finally, north of Corazones was the Río Yaqui, whose tributary Coronado knew as Río de Senora and Ibarra as Río Oera. Ibarra knew the Río Yaqui as the Río Yaquimi. Crossing to another tributary of the Río Yaqui, the expedition came to the Indian village of Guisamopa, known to Vázquez de Coronado as Ispa. Beyond there, and still on the Río Yaqui drainage, near the Arroyo Babaco, was Vázquez de Coronado's Suya or Ibarra's Senora.

DiPeso's analysis could very well be the key to the historical conundrum concerning Vázquez de Coronado's route through Sonora. By following the documentation almost to a fault, DiPeso determined that the route of Vázquez de Coronado veered northwestward to the Río Bavispe and its confluence with the Río Batepito which he followed to the Río San Bernardino that originates in southwestern Arizona considerably west of the San Pedro River. DiPeso made a strong case for the expedition crossing into Arizona at present Slaughter Ranch not far westward from the Arizona‑New Mexico border. He concluded that the expedition entered New Mexico crossing into the Animas Valley through Antelope Pass and then straddled the Arizona‑New Mexico boundary until reaching Zuni Pueblo. DiPeso wrote,

Padre de Niza, Melchior Diaz, and Coronado's troops all traveled along this section of the old Acoma road seeking Cibola. From the Rio Batepito junction the army may have gone N‑by‑NW up this river to the San Bernardino junction, 43 km., and then up the San Bernardino in a northerly direction, keeping the Sierra de San Luis on the right (E), to the vicinity of the modern Slaughter Ranch, another 17 km. Next they would have continued up the San Bernardino Valley, traveling NE past the site of present‑day Rodeo, New Mexico, and keeping the Chiricahua Mountains on the left (W) and the Peloncillos on the right (E), finally arriving at what is now called Antelope Pass in the latter range, an additional 65 km (DiPeso, 1975:100).

Earlier, in 1872, Brig. General J.H. Simpson, one of the first to attempt to trace Vázquez de Coronado's route in southern Arizona, had assumed that the Spaniards had entered the present United States through the Santa Cruz Valley, stopping at Chichilticale, which he reckoned to be Casa Grande on the Gila River, and then turned northeast across the Pinal and Mogollon Mountains to Zuni. Simpson's account, filled with errors, suggested the westernmost theory of the expedition through Arizona. His discussion of the route through the Mogollon Rim, however, lacks substantive detail (Simpson, 1872:329). The notion persisted for almost seventy years, however, for in 1939, archaeologist Charlie Steen suggested that Fray Marcos de Niza's preliminary expedition in 1539 had entered Arizona through the Santa Cruz River valley and turned northwestward somewhere between Tucson and Phoenix, entering the mountains probably beyond Florence near the Salt River (Steen, 1939). Niza was one of the guides of the Vázquez de Coronado Expedition in 1540.

Other scholars contended that the expedition entered Arizona through the San Pedro River valley because it was most compatible with Spanish documentation and topography, being the easiest route northward. Frederick W. Hodge argued that the expedition traveled north along the Rio Sonora and entered Arizona through the San Pedro River valley, then crossed the Pinaleno Mountains over Railroad Pass, followed the San Simeon valley to a point near present Solomonsville and the Gila River, south of the present White Mountain Apache Reservation (Hodge, 1895:142‑152). Hodge's route took the expedition directly on a northeastward path to the Zuni River. Of this portion of the route, Hodge's explanation, likewise, lacks sufficient detail for analysis. The debate over the location of the expedition's crossing into Arizona from Sonora was only beginning. Hodge had raised a point which would cause much speculation concerning the San Pedro River valley hypothesis.

In 1947 George J. Undreiner re‑examined Fray Marcos de Niza's journey to Cibola and proposed that Niza had entered Arizona on April 13, 1539 by following a route north along the Pima road about 15 miles east of Lochiel soon after which he reached Quiburi, a Sobaipuri village on the San Pedro River. Three days later, Niza visited Baicatcan, another village on the San Pedro, which DiPeso had dated pre‑1698. Herein was the riddle. Pedro de Castañeda, chronicler of the Vázquez de Coronado expedition, stated that after visiting a certain Indian town, the expedition encountered a four‑day despoblado (desert) north of there. Undreiner pointed out that in his preliminary expedition of 1539, Niza, probably at Baicatcan, or at least at Quiburi, learned that two more days of travel would bring him to a despoblado which would take four days to cross. He contended that Niza, after two days of travel, had reached the northernmost Sobaipuri village on the San Pedro and that it was probably near Aravaipa Creek (Undreiner, 1947:415‑486).

On that same point, Albert H. Schroeder responded to historians who had suggested that Vázquez de Coronado's expedition went down the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona, and, on the basis that Juan Jaramillo, chronicler of the expedition, indicated that the expedition turned east, had routed Niza and Vázquez de Coronado either up Aravaipa Creek or east from the Tres Alamos region (See Bandelier, 1881:1 1892, pt. II:407 Winship, 1896:387 Bolton, 1949:105 Sauer, 1932:36). Schroeder wrote, "If the former route is accepted it would imply that that portion of the middle San Pedro River, more that two days travel south of the junction with the Aravaipa, would not have been occupied, since it would then be the four‑day despoblado . This is the very area in which DiPeso has suggested, on the basis of archaeological evidence, that occupation may have been unbroken from late prehistoric into historic (1690s) times. Thus, the old routes appear to be in error." (Schroeder, 1955:265). In support of Hodge's hypothesis, Schroeder defends Niza, commenting that "The evidence presented herein not only indicates the good father was telling the truth, but that Coronado and his chroniclers knowingly supported much of his relation pertaining to the trip through this area." (Schroeder, 1955:267). Thus, Schroeder casts his lot with the San Pedro River valley entrance hypothesis.

The debate surrounding the San Pedro River Valley entrance is tied to the location of Chichilticale (sometimes spelled Chichilticalli). Of Chichilticale, Vázquez de Coronado wrote, "I rested for two days at Chichilticale, and there was no chance to rest further, because the food was giving out." (Hammond and Rey, 1940:166). In his account, Pedro de Castañeda reported, "The land changes again at Chichilticale and the thorny trees disappear. The reason is that since the gulf extends as far as that place and the coast turns, so also the ridge of the sierra turns. Here one comes to cross the ridge and it breaks to pass into the plains of the land." (Hammond and Rey, 1940:251). What was Chichilticale? At times the documents refer to it as a valley, other times it appears as a mountain range, a port, or even a despoblado, and finally, as a place or a village. Vázquez de Coronado and Melchior Diaz mentioned the "people of Chichiltcale" (Hammond and Rey, 1940:165). After careful consideration, DiPeso concluded that it was south of the Arizona‑Sonora border closer to the Río Batepito and the San Bernardino valley. He wrote, "Ruins which might be ascribed to those of the `red house' of Chichilticale occur up and down the San Bernardino Valley, and the Stevens Ranch site contains pottery fragments which indicate a trade relationship with the N and the Little Colorado" (DiPeso, 1940:100). By placing Chichilticale in that area, DiPeso suggested that north of the confluence of the San Bernardino River valley was a fifteen day despoblado.

DiPeso's analysis is fairly thorough and deserves lengthy quotation:

De Niza did not mention "Chichiltacale" in his narrative, but Coronado, in his letter to Mendoza. did, and said that it was "fifteen days" journey distant from the sea, although the father provincial had said that it was only five leagues distant and that he had seen it . [and] which the father said was at thirty‑five degrees. " Either Coronado referred to the journal of place names and locations which de Niza had mentioned (Baldwin, 1926, p. 206) or he was given this information verbally by the priest while on the trail E of Bacadehuachi. The latter had previously scouted out the coast and mentioned the fact that the coast turned W at latitude 35 degrees. It would seem that Coronado's "port of Chichilticale" was that referred to by de Niza after crossing the second despoblado of four days. De Niza mentioned entering a town at the end of this trip in which he was given food. Coronado, in turn, questioned the Indians of Chichilticale (Hammond and Rey, 1940, p. 165) and was told that "they go to the sea for fish, or for anything else that they need, they go across the country, and that it takes them ten days. "

Melchior Diaz, who was sent to check de Niza's report, spent the winter in Chichilticale and said it was 220 leagues from Culiacan (Bolton, 1949, p. 87). Using the proposed routing, this distance would have taken him by way of the Bavispe, a distance of 221.3 leagues. In this Castaneda confirmed the distance (Hammond and Rey, 1940, p. 198).

Castaneda (ibid., pp. 212, 251‑252) wrote that the priests (de Niza and his party) named Chichilticale because of an abandoned mud fortress which had been built by people who broke away from Cibola and which was later destroyed by folk who hunted and lived in rancherias without permanent settlements. He went on to say that the gulf extended as far as this area and turned W at the head of the Gulf of California, which it does on the latitude several minutes above 31 degrees N. This latitude falls across the San Bernardino Valley.

Melchior Diaz attested to the cold (ibid., p. 157). Although he did not mention Chichiltcale directly in his letter to Mendoza, he spoke of the despoblado which separated him from Cibola and recounted his interview with the Cibolans of Chichilticale, who, after Esteban was killed advised the people of that town not to respect the Christians but to kill them (ibid., p. 160).

Schroeder correctly surmised the critical need to define the location of Chichilticale because, for one of many reasons, it determined where the expedition went next. He countered any argument that suggests that Chichilticale lay south of the Arizona‑Sonora border by stating, "The ethnological traits reported by the early Spanish who recorded their travels of 1539 and 1540 through Arizona point to the Yavapai as the people who occupied the area on the north side of the four‑day despoblado, where Chichilticale was located. Internal evidence within these early documents also indicates that Fray Marcos and Coronado followed the San Pedro to its mouth, not just to Tres Alamos or Aravaipa on the San Pedro, and that from there they crossed the Gila and went over to the Salt River as Undreiner suggests." (Schroeder, 1956:32). Schroeder is emphatic about the significance of this point writing, "Thus, the Yavapai remain as the only possible group, separated by four days' travel, that bordered the Sobaipuri on the north in 1539 and 1540." (Schroeder, 1956:33). Furthermore, in contrast to DiPeso's and Hodge's routes from Arizona to New Mexico, he proposed that after departing the mouth of the San Pedro River, the expedition proceeded down the Salt River "almost to the mouth of Tonto Creek, then up Salome Creek and over the north end of the Sierra Anchas and then generally northeast over the Mogollon Rim across to Zuni. There is little or no evidence to indicate they went east from the San Pedro at Tres Alamos or via Aravaipa Creek and then across the present day San Carlos Apache country to Zuni. Such a trail would necessitate a route directed to the north or north‑north‑east, rather than northeast as the documents state." (Schroeder, 1956:32).

Carroll L. Riley and Joni L. Manson also agree, without specifying their argument, that Chichilticale was in southern Arizona or New Mexico (Riley and Manson, 1983:349). Riley, on the basis of historical, anthropological and botanical evidence revolving around linguistics, argued that the location of Chichiltacale was at one of two probable locations: one on the lower Salt River, the other on the upper Gila River (Riley, 1985:153).


Having crossed the despoblado, the anonymous writer of the Relación del Suceso (Hammond and Rey, 1940:284) commented that "the entire route up to within fifty leagues of Cibola is inhabited, although in some places at a distance from the road." This and other commentary by the members of the expedition are open to interpretation. The route to Cibola from the despoblado is fraught with a dearth of information leaving the researcher often with little more than his imagination. The most accepted route of the expedition through Arizona is that proposed by Herbert E. Bolton. Since 1949, the Bolton route has gained in venerability, partly because of his scholarly influence and partly because his field research almost rivaled that of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's epic march across a large portion of North America. Bolton built on the work of earlier researchers, and was probably influenced, although he denied it, by A. Grove Day's work which was published in 1940.

Day favored the Sonora Valley as a probable point from which Arizona was reached. Furthermore, he opted for the San Pedro River route, specifying that Vázquez de Coronado had entered Arizona through a plain extending to the headwaters of the San Pedro River near present‑day Naco. Somewhere near there, he explained, was the point of departure for crossing the despoblado. Day went on to propose that the expedition crossed the Gila and Salt Rivers by means of an old Indian trail, and then proceeded through the White Mountains to the upper drainage of the Little Colorado near St. Johns to the Zuni River. Although Day did not specifically tell how the expedition crossed the area, he deferred to the work by Sauer and Winship for his information.

Like Day, Bolton relied on Winship and other sources to define his proposed route which he then set out to prove through his fieldwork. Generally, Bolton's route has the expedition leaving the traditionally mentioned Compostela to Culiacán where they followed the coastal plain, veering northeastward between the Gulf of California and the Sierra Madre Occidental crossing rivers until they reached the Sonora River valley. From there, deduced Bolton, they entered Arizona through the San Pedro River Valley. The Bolton route placed the expedition's point of departure through the despoblado near Benson, Arizona, from where it marched northeast through the Galiuro range and crossed the Arivaipa valley, passing through Eagle Pass between the Pinaleno and Santa Teresa mountains. The line of march through the despoblado ran along the Gila River, crossing it at present‑day Bylas, after which it forded the Salt River near Bonito Creek. Next, Bolton proposed that they continued northward, crossed the White River near Fort Apache, ascended the Mogollon Rim by following small streams before emerging on the Little Colorado River near its confluence with the Zuni River. Shortly, the expedition reached Hawikuh (Bolton, 1949:108‑117).

The route has been accepted by some historians, modified by others and contested by yet another group of researchers who offer their own conclusions markedly different from Bolton's. Researchers, namely R.M. Wagstaff, have criticized the Bolton proposal by noting that the distances traveled by the expedition do not conform with Bolton's conclusions. Also, Bolton's identification of rivers, which often appear to be juxtaposed to fit the narrative are misleading. Although Wagstaff did not adequately support the discrepancies he cited, DiPeso attempted to propose an alternative route in which he accounted for rivers and distances.

Employing the same methodology as he had on the rivers in Sonora, DiPeso suggested that the expedition traveled from Antelope Pass to Cibola, meandering in and out of Arizona and New Mexico until they reached Cibola. DiPeso argued that from Antelope Pass the expedition crossed into New Mexico, then veered northwest into Arizona passing present‑day Duncan, Guthrie, and Clifton northward beyond the San Francisco River to Stray Horse Creek which it crossed following the Blue River into New Mexico. Passing through Luna, New Mexico, DiPeso's proposed route placed the expedition near Spur Lake from where they followed a line, almost straight north across Carrizo Wash and beyond the west side of Zuni Plateau to the Zuni River before reaching Cibola (DiPeso, 1974:102).

Preceding Bolton, Carl Sauer's interpretation of the route through Arizona is traced from the San Pedro River to a point north of Benson, around the Galiuro mountains into the upper basin of Arivaipa Creek north to the Gila River by way of Eagle Pass between the Pinaleno and Santa Teresa ranges. Following the San Carlos River, the expedition turned northeast crossing the Natanes plateau and the Black River to a point on the White River near present‑day Fort Apache from where Vázquez de Coronado passed near present McNary. From there, they crossed the Colorado Plateau to the Little Colorado River, thence to the Zuni before reaching Hawikuh (Sauer, 1932:36‑37).

Carroll L. Riley and Joni L. Manson retraced the expedition from San Miguel de Culiacán, first through the eyes of the Marcos de Niza preliminary exploration of 1539, then through the sources of the Vázquez de Coronado expedition. Reanalyzing the Niza route of 1539, Riley and Manson concluded that he reached "a settlement called Vacapa in the Altar‑Magdalena drainage of northwestern Sonora" (Riley and Manson, 1983:348). They proposed that Niza had taken the westernmost path through central Sonora, and traveling north, he had entered Arizona "at some point in the lower San Pedro or perhaps Santa Cruz valley" (Riley and Manson, 1983:348). Also in 1539, Melchior Diaz led a scouting party from Culiacán to northern Sonora and "the ruin of Chichilticale in southern Arizona or New Mexico, but did not try to cross the mountains to Cibola." (Riley and Manson, 1983:349). The two events influenced the route Vázquez de Coronado would take north to Chichilticale. After leaving Culiacán, suggest Riley and Manson, Vázquez de Coronado retraced Diaz's inland route, passed Corazones, the valley of Senora and Chichilticale.

Although Riley and Manson do not offer detail regarding this portion of the route, they proposed two routes leading through Arizona to New Mexico. The first route is based on a series of aboriginal trails that served as a "great trunk road that linked Cibola‑Zuni‑‑and through it, all the Southwest‑‑with Mesoamerica. A second great route tied Cibola to Tusayan and eventually to the Pacific coast. The southern trunk road has long been called the Camino Real. Several sections of the route are uncertain it has been argued, for example, that in Sonora major trails ran through the Sonora valley, the Yaqui valley or both." (Riley and Manson, 1983:350). They cautioned the reader regarding the route of the southern portion of the "great trunk road" through Arizona to New Mexico: "No agreement exists as to the route of the Camino Real in the upper Southwest, although it undoubtedly terminated at Cibola." (Riley and Manson, 1983:350). The point made by Riley and Manson is that the existence of these trails was known to the Indian guides of Niza, Diaz and Vázquez de Coronado and that they are the key to understanding where the expedition entered Arizona and subsequently influenced the direction taken after Chichilticale, as well as the route the Spaniards took after they had established themselves at Zuni.

As a result of their study regarding the "great trunk road", Riley and Manson clarify that the valleys of the Santa Cruz River, the San Pedro River and the San Bernardino River were part of this major Mesoamerican trade route which was also utilized by explorers associated with the expedition of Vázquez de Coronado. By defining the corridors of the "great trunk road", Riley and Manson narrow down two possibilities: the first running from San Pedro River valley, north to the Gila River, across the Salt River and the Little Colorado to the Zuni River and beyond to Zuni, and the second, following a line proposed by DiPeso from the San Bernardino River valley to the southeastern corner of Arizona, thence into New Mexico where the route meanders in and out of Arizona and New Mexico until it reaches the Zuni River and then to Zuni (Riley and Manson, 1983:352).

Expedition Of Coronado To The Southwest (1540-1541) CORONADO'S OWN ACCOUNT - History

New Mexico was, from the first, a land of disappointment. Spaniards came to this hostile and barren terrain in the hope that the phenomenon of the Aztecs could be repeated. The stories and legends coming from the area to the north fired the imaginations of the crown. However, Spain was not to find another Mexico in the northern reaches. Rather she would discover death, starvation, rebellion, and finally entrapment in a place she soon had no desire to be.

Legends regarding riches were in large part responsible for Spanish interest. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca returned in the 1530s to Mexico City, so recently looted by Spain, with rumors of riches northward. He had not seen these places but he had heard from "reliable natives" that there were cities of great wealth to the north and west. He also reported that "cows" with shaggy hair were on the plains. These were, of course, buffalo.

There was truth in Cabeza's stories. The explorer claimed that he had vaguely heard of Seven Cities of Gold where citizens dined on solid gold platters, the streets were paved in gold and the lowliest resident was covered with riches. There were equally persistent rumors of a civilization far to the south. This was, of course, the Inca civilization, which fellow Spaniards were in the process of looting by the middle 1530s. [1]

If Cabeza de Vaca stirred the interest of officials at Mexico City, the exploits of Fray Marcos de Niza were even more thrilling. While Cabeza de Vaca was interesting to Viceroy Mendoza, more information was needed. In 1537 the Bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumarraga, brought to the viceroy's attention a priest named Marcos de Niza. Fray Marcos was an experienced traveller in "America" and, based on his knowledge, he was permitted to go. In 1538 he was given orders by the viceroy to move north and find out what was there. For this trip the Moorish slave, Estevan, was borrowed from Dorantes, a companion of Cabeza de Vaca's. It was not until 1539 that Marcos and his little group moved from Culiacan. Near the River Mayo, Estevan decided he wanted to go on faster than the rest of the group. Fray Marcos never heard from El Moro again. Indian tales later indicated that Estevan, a black, so fascinated Indian women that he was killed by jealous native men. Fray Marcos pushed on. He marched up the Sonora Valley into southern Arizona and then into the area of what was called "Cibola." Marcos had, by now, heard of Estevan's demise. Undaunted, he pushed on to "Cibola." He described the place only from a distance. However, he stated that it was larger than Mexico City and that it was "shimmering". He said the houses were of stone, with terraces and flat roofs. He also noted that he was told that Cibola was the smallest of the seven cities. Marcos returned to Mexico City and filed his report. It was Marcos' stories that caused Viceroy Mendoza to agree to a full scale expedition.

Marcos got to Arizona. This can be told from his geographic descriptions, but what he saw is another matter. Most likely, Fray Marcos did see the pueblos of Zuñi from a distance. They were in no way cities of gold but, in the shimmering summer heat they may have appeared so. [2]

The Spanish government was interested in the potential of what was then generally called 'the north' [el norte]. After the successes of Mexico and Peru, Spain felt that northern New Spain was ready to be added to the empire. On the basis of both Marcos de Niza's and Cabeza de Vaca's reports, Mendoza organized a major expedition into the northern lands. For one of the only times the crown, upon Mendoza's strong urging, gave limited aid to an expedition.

The Coronado excursion of 1540-1542 was the first officially authorized attempt to conquer the north. This enterprise consisted of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, Governor of Nueva Galicia, 230 Spanish soldiers and 800 Indians who flanked them. Three women also went along. Coordinated with this overland expedition, Hernando de Alarcon proceeded by sea, up the coast of Mexico, to the mouth of the Colorado River where his fleet was supposed to rendezvous with Coronado. This meeting never took place.

Coronado marched north and ultimately into the Rio Grande valley where he found pueblos of relatively high civilization. He found Indians who could weave, were potters and farmers, and who had a well-organized government and religious system. However, there was no silver or gold, nor were there seven golden cities. Coronado and his men suffered through a very rough winter of 1540-1541 and, in doing so, demanded so much of the pueblos that they rebelled.

Winter was unbearable as the natives harrased the Spanish, while the elements did their best to finish off the expedition. The spring of 1541 found Coronado on his way across the plains of Colorado seeking Quivira. Led by a native called El Turco [the Turk], the Spanish tramped across southeastern Colorado into Kansas where there were no cities, only groups of buffalo hide houses. The Turk, having confessed that he had lied, was strangled by angry expedition members.

By the fall of 1541 the expedition was back in the Rio Grande area where they survived yet another winter. An accident caused Coronado to become seriously ill, and forced the group back to New Spain, where no doubt they were glad to be. Thus ended the first major effort to conquer New Mexico. The Spanish found that there was nothing of value in the land and the fact that they had covered an area from Arizona to Kansas confirmed this. But the desire for settlement was not ended.

The Coronado expedition answered one thing. There was no gold nor were there any major cities or civilizations in the north. Spain lost interest in a barren land of mud houses. Other expeditions were attempted in North America. Prior to the New Mexican expedition, Ponce de Leon attempted to settle Florida while Hernando de Soto explored the lower Mississippi. On the Pacific coast, explorers like Cabrillo, Ferrelo and others ranged up to and beyond the Monterey Bay area and then had quit. By 1543, Spain had seen enough of northern New Spain to leave it alone. [3]

In 1581 the Rodriguez-Chamuscado expedition worked its way into New Mexico and found nothing. A year later, 1582, another expedition set out for New Mexico. Antonio de Espejo and Bernaldino Beltran organized a party to explore the north and to try and make contact with missionaries who had remained from the expedition of 1581. The Espejo-Beltran expedition went north into Rio Grande valley and then onto Zuñi and into the Hopi lands. They returned to Zuñi from which point Espejo went to Pecos and then on to New Spain. Reports were filed and information that the expedition had gained stirred some interest at Mexico City.

Earlier stories were still prevalent and the tales of mines from the Espejo-Beltran expedition aroused the imagination of younger men, those who had forgotten about Coronado's eye-opening excursion into the region.

By the late 1500s, the Spanish government was under considerable pressure from the Church. Since there were large numbers of sedentary Indians in the Rio Grande valley, many church officials wondered why they were not being Christianized. The Franciscan order caused the government to give New Mexico a second look.

There were also rumors of mines and wealth in New Mexico. Espejo and Beltran, came back with information which still had great credence in official circles. The missions and possible mines were the strongest reasons, but Sir Francis Drake's California exploits were also in officials' minds.

In April of 1583 a cedula real ordered the viceroy to take steps to settle the lands in the north. A long line of applicants quickly formed but none of these men seemed to have either the wealth or the personality suited to such a massive undertaking. Years of official indecision prompted several expeditions to go out on their own.

In 1589 Gaspar Castaño de Sosa took about 170 men, women, and children north, but the group was arrested in New Mexico and returned to Mexico. In 1593 Francisco Leyva de Bonilla and Antonio Gutierres de Humana led a group into the plains of Kansas where they perished at the hands of each other and the natives. It was not until 1595 that someone was chosen to lead the proposed expedition north. Juan de Oñate, the son of a wealthy silver miner from Zacatecas was appointed. The expedition was to be financed by Oñate himself, and he agreed to recruit at least 200 men, to be fully equipped and to be paid by him. He also said that he would take 1,000 head of cattle, 2,000 sheep, 1,000 goats, 100 head of black cattle, 150 colts, 150 mares and quantities of flour, corn, jerked beef and sowing wheat along with other supplies. This too would be paid for by Oñate. The crown would support five Franciscan friars, a lay brother, and would furnish several pieces of artillery and would provide a six-year loan of 6,000 pesos. Also, the crown would grant Oñate the title of Governor, Captain-General and, once in the area, adelantado, which gave him power to grant encomienda rights. In this way he rewarded faithful servants. [4]

In one of few such cases of exploration in the New World, Oñate was to be directly responsible to the Council of the Indies rather than the viceroy. Despite his appointment in 1595 it was not until 1598 that the expedition got under way. At the time, Oñate technically had not fulfilled his end of the bargain. He had only 129 soldiers, but, he also had 7,000 head of stock. The Church seeing a great opportunity sent forth eleven Franciscans eight priests, and three lay brothers. In July of 1598 Oñate's group reached the ford of the Rio Grande at El Paso del Norte where they stopped. The little party rested a few days and then pushed on across the dreaded Jornada del Muerto to the village of Caypa, which Oñate renamed San Juan de los Caballeros. Later San Gabriel became his headquarters. It was not until 1610 that a Spanish capital was finally founded. [5]

Oñate was generally successful in his entrada into New Mexico. He suffered setbacks including Indian revolts, mutiny among the soldiers and a lack of food, but in the end a colony was established. The colonists who came with him were not prepared for the hardships they suffered and, because of the constant agitation in the settlements, Oñate was soon in trouble.

His accusers spread rumors of incompetence. Oñate did what he could to counter the charges. However, New Mexico was in turmoil. As soon as the news reached New Spain that there was trouble in the settlement, potential settlers changed their minds. Oñate, suffered constant political pressure in New Mexico. He attempted to clear his name by organizing an expedition to "find the south sea." Oñate hoped that by finding a route to the Pacific he could regain his fortune and prestige.

In 1604 he set out with thirty men and marched to the mouth of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California where nothing but primitive natives were found. Oñate returned as desperate as he had left.

By 1606 the fate of New Mexico hung in the balance. The Council of the Indies tried to save the province. Oñate was recalled and a new governor was appointed. Hopefully the new man would be more interested in christianization programs. Only the friars were allowed to make further explorations and the number of soldiers would be reduced in order to cut expenses. In 1607 Oñate resigned his post, having lost more than 400,000 pesos in his venture. [6]

For the first time Spain actually tried to settle New Mexico. In the quest, the Spanish government was able to spend a minimum while letting Oñate lose a fortune. It is true that Spain did support the colony, but that was quite limited. The settlement of the province was hardly an unqualified success since many of the colonists who came expected far more than either the government or the land could give. New Mexico was a bad investment on the part of the Spanish, even if it was at little risk and Mexico City soon knew it. The new settlers had to be protected from ever-increasingly hostile natives, while the Church insisted that recent Indian converts could not be abandoned. The Church was a major factor in keeping Spain in the new colony, but so too were the pitful few settlers. Soldiers who had come to New Mexico were trapped too. They were given land as colonists and for the first time, some of these people became encomenderos, a prestigious step up in Spanish social hierarchy. To own land, especially an encomienda, was to reach the pinnacle of Spanish society. No longer were they commoners, but now they could claim to be hijos de algo, hidalgos "sons of someone." New Mexico's land became the lure that kept settlers there.

To replace Oñate, the viceroy appointed Pedro de Peralta governor. Peralta was told that San Gabriel, the capital, was too far removed from the centers of population so in 1610 he founded Villa Nueva de Santa Fe. This was the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico and it became the focus of most activity during the seventeenth century. In founding Santa Fe, Spain signified that she intended to stay in New Mexico for good.

Prior to this time, the settlers and soldiers lived off the natives eating their food, using their clothing, and dwelling in, or beside, their villages. Santa Fe was established as the first purely Spanish settlement. A governmental center was set up and a province was born.

New Mexico was slow to develop. There was little real progress in the peopling of the province during this period. By the 1630s, Santa Fe had a population of 250 Europeans. By the end of the century overall numbers of Spaniards increased to several thousand. While the Spanish engaged in cattle and sheep raising, along with subsistence agriculture, the Church was far busier. The Franciscans had placed in the field twelve missionaries who served 50,000 Indians. [7]

The Spanish in New Mexico were unable to make the colony prosper as expected. Any trade that New Mexico enjoyed was with Parral [Mexico] and was mainly in sheep, wool, and salt. Such weak trade was further complicated by the system of caravans that ran between Santa Fe and Chihuahua City. The Franciscans operated this trade up to mid-century and were the ones who decided what would be shipped to and from New Mexico. This was a major point of friction between Church officials and the government. [8]

Church-State struggle was continual up to the Revolt of 1680. The tensions that built gave the natives an excellent opportunity to arise. The pueblos, seeing internal Spanish battles, along with continual poverty which caused incessant demands on the natives, suggested to the Pueblo people that there was a good chance of getting rid of their unwanted guests. Divisions among the Spanish were deep enough that the natives could plan a revolt with relative safety. The Spanish, on the other hand, numbering some 2,800 in 1680, felt themselves rather secure.

It is commonly known that one of the key causes for the Revolt of 1680 was the repression of native religion. The friars saw these manifestations as signs of paganism, while the government rarely worried about heathenism. The Franciscans were frequently enraged by the lack of cooperation of officials which only caused more friction. Meanwhile, Pueblo medicine men, who lost their dominant position, worked secretly to regain influence. This continual clash of two vastly different cultures was bound to produce war. [9]

The New Mexican government had rumors of a possible uprising as early as 1675. A raid of the northern pueblos captured forty-seven hechiceros (medicine men) who were accused of plotting to get rid of the Spanish. However, Pope, from San Juan pueblo, escaped. He became the primary leader of rebellion. After the San Juan raid, where he agitated, Pope removed himself to Taos, a center of consistent resistance, where he plotted the expulsion of the Spanish.

Finally, in 1680 the fury burst upon New Mexico. On August 9, 1680 a chief from La Cienega sent word to maestre de campo Francisco Gomez Robledo that there would be a revolt throughout the province. Gomez ordered the arrest of two chieftains, Catua and Omtua, suspecting that they were deeply involved. Word of the arrests spread throughout the pueblos and on August 10th, Pope raised the banner of rebellion.

Indians struck from all directions. At Taos two friars were slaughtered in their church and articles of the Catholic faith were burned. The revolt moved south spreading death and destruction everywhere. Four hundred Spaniards lost their lives in the initial uprising. Survivors fled to Santa Fe hoping to find shelter in the capital. Indians surrounded the city and by August 15th all that remained of the glorious conquest of 1598 was the besieged town of Santa Fe.

Governor Antonio Otermin faced two courses of action. He could surrender or he could fight the thousands of Indians around him. The Indians cut off Santa Fe, first by breaking the water supply and then by preventing all food shipments into the town. As the Spaniards huddled in Santa Fe they suffered horribly under the brilliant August sun.

On August 20th the Spanish ventured forth in an attempt to escape. Luck was with them. The Indians were caught off guard, and the beleaguered people of Santa Fe were able to make good their escape. Thus began the long march south to the tiny village of El Paso del Norte. New Mexico was abandoned to the Indians. [10]

The natives gloried in their success. Their hatred of the Spanish caused every vestige of the foreign culture to be stamped out. Houses of settlers were looted and burned, horses and cattle were confiscated. Mission churches were sacked and then burned to the ground. At Isleta the charred remains of the chapel were turned into a corral. The official archives at Santa Fe were burned. Indians who had taken Christian Indian wives were expelled, and the names of God and the Holy Virgin were not mentioned.

The pueblos returned to their own culture. New estufas (underground meeting chambers) were built and "pagan" ceremonies openly resumed. However, the natives, not noted for their cooperation, soon quarreled over the spoils of war. The pueblos of Zia, Santa Ana, San Felipe, Cochiti, and Santo Domingo, along with Jemez, Taos and Pecos were reported to be at war with the Tewas and Picuries, according to Governor Domingo de Cruzate in 1689.

The Pueblos were at each others' throats within a matter of months. Realizing the situation, the Spanish thought it might be possible to recover their lost province. Early after the revolt, Governor Antonio Otermin organized an expedition to retake New Mexico. Once he had settled the refugees at El Paso and after he reported the loss to Mexico City, he prepared to recover the the land.

In El Paso many settlers were opposed to any plans for reconquest. They suggested that the place should be abandoned and all those driven from their homes be permitted to return to New Spain. Otermin eventually prevailed in his plan for revenge. He was able to raise only 146 of his own men and 112 Indian allies for the counterattack.

As he moved north up the Rio Grande valley he found abandoned pueblos until he reached Isleta. There he discovered 1,500 Indians who received the Spaniards, asked their pardon, and gave them food. Here Otermin split his forces. He left for Sandia, while Juan Dominguez de Mendoza went farther north. Dominguez, reached the Taos area where he found the Indians unwilling to submit, as he reported to the junta de guerra. Otermin, realizing that he could not take the pueblos by force, returned to El Paso in 1681 to await reinforcements. [11]

Otermin was replaced in 1683 by General Domingo Jironza Petriz de Cruzate, who strengthened the presidio at El Paso del Norte. Cruzate got little help from Mexico City, for rumors of French intrusions into Texas (the ill-fated La Salle Expedition of 1685) caused the viceroy to turn his attentions thither and not toward New Mexico.

Cruzate was temporarily replaced by Pedro Reneros de Posada in 1686, but returned to El Paso as governor of New Mexico in 1688. From that city he led an expedition against Zia where he engaged the natives of that pueblo and killed an unspecified number of them. However, he had insufficient manpower and, without reinforcements, he had to fall back to El Paso once again.

Cruzate's career was ended on June 18, 1688 when Diego de Vargas Zapata y Lujan Ponce de Leon was appointed governor of New Mexico. He held this position for two years before he was allowed to plan for a reconquest. In 1690 he gained the right to organize an expedition into New Mexico for the sole purpose of reconquering the province.

1 See: Fanny Bandelier, The Journey of Cabeza de Vaca from Florida to the Pacific, 1528-1536 (New York, 1922) and Frederick W. Hodge, The Narrative of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, in Hodge and T. H. Lewis, Spanish Explorers in the Southern United States, 1528-1543. (New York, 1907).

2 Carl O. Sauer, Road to Cibola (Berkeley, 1932), and Lansing Bloom, "Who Discovered New Mexico?," New Mexico Historical Review, XV (April, 1940), 101-132. Also see: George J. Undreiner, "Fray Marcos de Niza and His Journey to Cibola," The Americas III (April, 1947), 416-486. For a personal account see: "Fray Marcos de Niza's Relacion," New Mexico Historical Review, I (April, 1926), 193-223.

3 For brief descriptions of these various expeditions see: John F. Bannon, The Spanish Borderlands Frontier, 1513-1821 (New York, 1970). The Coronado expedition is described in: George Winship, The Journey Of Coronado, 1542-1544 (New York, 1904) George Hammond and Agapito Rey, Narratives of the Coronado Expedition (Albuquerque, 1940) Herbert E. Bolton, Coronado, Knight of Pueblos and Plains (New York, 1949) A. Grove Day, Coronado's Quest (Berkeley, 1940) Frederic J. Athearn, Land of Contrast: A History of Southeast Colorado, (Denver, 1985) and James and Dolores Gunnerson, Ethnohistory of the High Plains, (Denver, 1988).

4 See: George P. Hammond, Don Juan de Oñate, Colonizer of New Mexico, 1595-1628 (Albuquerque, 1953). 2 vols.

5 See: George P. Hammond and Agapito Rey, The Rediscovery of New Mexico (Albuquerque, 1966).

6 For descriptions of the Oñate expedition, see: George P. Hammond, Don Juan de Oñate and the Founding of New Mexico (Santa Fe, 1927) and Don Juan de Oñate, Colonizer of New Mexico.

7 See: Gaspar Perez de Villagras, History of New Mexico, trans. and ed. by Gilberto Espinosa (Los Angeles, 1933).

8 See: France V. Scholes, "The Supply System of the Early New Mexico Missions," New Mexico Historical Review, V (January, April and October, 1930).

9 Descriptions of New Mexico during the seventeenth century are to be found in the indicated volumes of the New Mexico Historical Review: France V. Scholes, "Problems in the Early Ecclesiastical History of New Mexico," VII (January, 1932), 32-74 "Civil Government and Society in New Mexico in the Seventeenth Century," X (January, 1935), 71-111 "Church and State in New Mexico, 1610-1650," XI (January, April, July, October, 1936), 4-76, 145-178, 283-294, 297-349, and XII (January, 1937), 78-108., "Troublous Times in New Mexico, 1659-1670," XII (April, October, 1937), 134-174, 380-452, and XIII (January, 1938), 63-84, and XV (July, October, 1940), 249-268, and XVI (January, July, October, 1941), 15-40, 184-205, 313-327. See also: "The First Decade of the Inquisition in New Mexico," X (July, 1935), 195-241.

10 See: Charles Wilson Hackett, "Retreat of the Spaniards from New Mexico in 1680 and the Beginnings of El Paso," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XVI (October, 1912), 137-168 and (January, 1913), 259-276. Also see: Anne E. Hughes, The Beginnings of Spanish Settlement at the El Paso District (Berkeley, 1914). For a description of the Revolt of 1680 see: Charles W. Hackett, "The Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico in 1680," Texas State Historical Association Quarterly, XV (October, 1911), 93-147 and Hackett, Revolt of the Pueblo Indians Of New Mexico and Otermin's Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682 (2 vols., Albuquerque, 1942).

Coronado Expedition

It was late August in that fateful year, 1540. Coronado, with his advance guard, had conquered the province of the Seven Cities of Cibola, which turned out to be, not the hoped-for kingdoms of gold and silver, but rather the Zuni Puebloan villages of earth and stone. He had sent Pedro de Tovar to investigate another province of seven cities, which also turned out to be, not kingdoms of gold and silver, but rather Puebloan – in this case, Hopi – villages of earth and stone. Meanwhile, he knew, his expedition&rsquos main column, with more than 1000 people and several thousand head of livestock, was advancing slowly but steadily up the trail from Culiacan to overtake him with a high expectation of getting rich. He hoped that new supplies, transported on three vessels captained by Hernando Alarcon, would soon reach him somehow from the Gulf of California. He had dispatched Melchior Diaz to solidify the Spanish grip on the new settlement – San Hieronimo de los Corazones – in the central Sonoran Desert then to hurry on westward in an ill-fated search for Alarcon&rsquos ships along the coast of the gulf. He had sent Garcia Lopez de Cardenas to investigate stories of a large people and a great river—a march which would lead to the discovery of the Grand Canyon.

Lures to the East

By now, Coronado and his conquistadors had occupied the Cibolan community of Hawikuh for six weeks. "The Seven Cities are seven little villages…" Coronado wrote in disappointment to Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza on August 3. "They are all within a radius of 5 leagues." He summoned the Cibolans, whom he described as "fairly large" and "quite intelligent," to submit to the Spanish monarchy and convert to Catholicism. He invited visits by the "lords" of more distant Puebloan villages. He inquired about other settlements in the region, hoping to learn of empire and treasure. "As far as I can judge," he told Mendoza, "it does not appear to me that there is any hope of getting gold or silver, but I trust in God that, if there is any, we shall get our share of it…"

As the weeks passed, he learned of pueblos to the east, many of the them located along a river the Spanish would someday name the "Rio Grande" – the "Great River" – and as August drew to a close, he welcomed two visitors—a striking young chief he would call "Bigotes" (Whiskers) and an aging tribal governor he would call "Cacique" (Boss). He learned that the two had come from Cicuye (now known as "Pecos"), a large and important pueblo and trading center in the east, beyond the Rio Grande. He accepted their extended hand of friendship and their gifts from Pecos. He gave them the hospitality of his newly conquered Zuni village and gifts from Mexico and Spain. He learned more about the villages to the east and the "cattle" (the bison, or buffalo) of the Great Plains.

Intrigued by what he heard, Coronado dispatched Hernando de Alvarado and some 20 conquistadors and a friar to accompany Bigotes and Cacique back to Pecos. He charged Alvarado with scouting the eastern Puebloan provinces and the great buffalo plains. He hoped for new clues which would lead him to the elusive kingdoms of gold and silver.

Guided by Bigote and Cacique, Alvarado followed a trail which ran eastward, across a rugged mal pais, the great lava flow in west-central New Mexico past the Acoma Pueblo, a spectacular village atop a towering mesa and to a Rio Grande Puebloan province, the Tiguex villages near today&rsquos Albuquerque and Bernalillo. With Bigotes and Cacique, Alvarado followed the Rio Grande as far upstream as Taos. He returned downstream to Tiguex then headed eastward, guided by Bigotes and Cacique over a trail now unknown, to Pecos, located along the upper reaches of the Pecos River. From there, with new guides whom he called "The Turk" and "Sopete," Alvarado followed the Pecos River for some miles downstream. He crossed to the Canadian River and followed it downstream to the western edge of the Llano Estacado and the Great Plains, where he encountered the buffalo.

Before Alvarado left the Rio Grande, he dispatched a courier to report to Coronado, encouraging the general to bring the expedition to the Tiguex province for the winter. "…there are twelve villages," he wrote. "The houses are of earth, two stories high the people have a good appearance, more like laborers than a warlike race they have a large food supply of corn, beans, melons, and fowl in great plenty they clothe themselves with cotton and the skins of cows and dress of the feathers of the fowls…"

When they reached the Great Plains, guided by The Turk and Sopete – two plains Indians who had been captured and enslaved by Bigotes and Cacique – Alvarado and his party felt all but overwhelmed by the immense buffalo herds. They were "…the most monstrous beasts ever seen or read about," he said. "…I do not know what to compare them with unless it be the fish in the sea�use the plains were covered with them."

If Alvarado felt impressed by the buffalo, he would be stunned by the stories spun by one of his guides—The Turk, a Turkish-looking plains Indian who had been captured and enslaved by Bigotes and Cacique. To the northeast, said The Turk, lay a land called "Quivira," a province with kingdoms of gold and silver. In fact, The Turk claimed, he himself had once owned a golden bracelet from Quivira, but he had had been forced to forfeit the ornament to his captors, Bigotes and Cacique, who still held it.

Alvarado&rsquos enthusiasm for buffalo evaporated like a drop of rain on a hot summer day in the desert. Enthralled by another opportunity for treasure, he rushed back to Pecos, where he demanded that Bigotes and Cacique turn over the golden bracelet immediately. As a conquistador, he simply felt entitled to the bracelet. The two chiefs said they knew absolutely nothing about such an ornament. Denied his entitlement, Alvarado clamped manacles on Bigotes, Cacique, The Turk and Sopete. Over the protests of the people of Pecos – until now, accommodating hosts of the Spaniards – he marched the four back toward Tiguex, planning to force them to reveal what they knew about a golden bracelet and a new kingdom of gold and silver. He would report what he learned to his general.

Coronado&rsquos March from Cibola to Tiguex

Coronado, learning from Alvarado&rsquos messenger about the relative abundance of Tiguex – in the heart of the eastern Puebloan communities – had already decided to move his expedition to that province on the Rio Grande in preparation for the onrushing winter. He dispatched Garcia Lopez de Cardenas – just returned from his discovery of Grand Canyon – to secure quarters. Cardenas, with a small party of conquistadors, Mexican Indians and Cibolan guides, trekked eastward across the mal pais, past Acoma to Tiguex. He effectively commandeered the Tiguex pueblo of Alcanfor – now a ruin near the community of Bernalillo – "inviting" the residents to find other accommodations for the season. "…they took nothing but themselves and the clothes they had on…" said the chronicler Pedro de Castaneda. Cardenas soon received Alvarado&rsquos party, which arrived at Alcanfor with the four "guests" in shackles and new stories of kingdoms and treasures. Cardenas and Alvarado would anxiously await the arrival of Coronado.

Meanwhile, Coronado welcomed the main body of his column, its marchers suffering from a bitter winter storm, to Hawikuh. He had prepared warm quarters and food – something at that point more important even than treasure – for the weary travelers. He digested the distressing news that Melchior Diaz, a trusted lieutenant, had failed in the attempt to contact Alarcon&rsquos resupply vessels in the Gulf of California and, indeed, that Diaz, killed in a bizarre accident, now lay buried beneath a mound of stones on the Devil&rsquos Road in the Sonoran Desert.

Nevertheless, Coronado would push on with the expedition. As soon as he had the main column settled in at Hawikuh, said Castaneda, "the general…took 30 of the men who were most fully rested…" and embarked for the winter quarters on the Rio Grande. He had ordered the main column "to proceed to Tiguex by the direct road, after the men had rested twenty days." It was now late November.

"On this journey, between one day when he left [Cibola] and midday of the third day, when they saw some snow-covered mountains [western New Mexico&rsquos 9000-foot-high Zuni range], toward which they went in search of water, neither the Spaniards nor the horses nor the servants drank anything," said Castaneda, "They were able to stand it because of the severe cold…" According to authority Joseph P. Sanchez, writing in The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva, Coronado and his men may have passed El Morro, a 200-foot high sandstone monolith and ancient trail marker for travelers. They crossed the mal pais, that primal black landscape born of molten stone. They passed Acoma, "a rock with a village on top, the strongest position that ever was seen in the world…" as an unknown Spaniard would write in his chronicle of the trip. From Acoma, Coronado apparently either proceeded due east or turned southeast, according to most authorities. He struck the Rio Grande downstream from the Tiguex province, perhaps at a pueblo as far as 75 or 80 miles to the south or possibly at the Isleta Pueblo only a few miles to the south. He traveled upstream to Alcanfor, rejoining Alvarado and Cardenas at the expedition&rsquos quarters for the winter.

Upon arrival, he learned of The Turk&rsquos tales of Quivira and its kingdoms of gold and silver, somewhere far out on the Great Plains.

That Winter at Tiguex

"…The Turk said that in his country there was a river in the level country which was 2 leagues wide, in which there were fishes as big as horses, and large numbers of very big canoes, with more than 20 rowers on a side, and that they carried sails, and that their lords sat on the poop under awnings, and on the prow they had a great golden eagle," according to Castenada. "He said also that the lord of that country took his afternoon nap under a great tree on which were hung a number of little gold bells, which put him to sleep as they swung in the air. He said also that everyone had their ordinary dishes made of wrought plate, and the jugs and bowls were of gold."

With the potential for treasure rekindled, Coronado sought confirmation of The Turk&rsquos stories from the prisoners Bigotes and old Cacique, turning vicious dogs on them to extract the "truth" he yearned to hear. Both denied The Turk&rsquos claims. Coronado, mesmerized by renewed visions of gold and silver, chose to believe The Turk.

Meanwhile, with winter in full force, Coronado faced a growing hostility among his Puebloan hosts, whose help, friendship and trust the Spaniards had abused. He had displaced the residents of a village to gain winter quarters for his expedition. He held Puebloan chiefs in chains, baiting them with dogs. He protected a well-connected conquistador who had raped an Indian woman. He sanctioned his officers&rsquo appropriation of the clothing and provisions at the expense of the Indians. He soon triggered a rebellion by the Tiguex, who murdered a Mexican Indian ally and stole and killed Spanish horses.

After a futile attempt to restore peace – on Spanish terms – Coronado declared war on the Tiguex, attacking the pueblo called Arenal. After a bloody battle with heavy casualties on both sides, Coronado&rsquos conquistadors torched the village. According to Herbert Eugene Bolton in Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains, the soldiers, like sharks in a feeding frenzy, massacred Puebloans who fled the smoke and flames. They took captives, tied 200 of them to stakes and roasted them alive. They took another 100 captives, "who began to struggle and defend themselves with what there was there…," said Castenada. "…the horsemen chased those who escaped. As the country was level, not a man of them remained alive, unless it was some who remained hidden in the village and escaped that night to spread throughout the country the news that the strangers did not respect the peace they had made…" In the aftermath of the battle, Coronado dragged his four captives – Bigotes, Cacique, The Turk and Sopete – to the smoldering scene of the destruction and death so they could see first hand what happened to those who defied Spanish might.

Although Coronado had won the battle at Arenal, he knew that he now faced a war with the Tiguex. Thankfully, at just that moment, near the end of December in 1540, Coronado learned that the main column was arriving from Cibola. He desperately needed the reinforcement.

Gaining confidence with growing numbers, Coronado sent emissaries to the other Tiguex pueblos to solicit peace, promising them that they would be "pardoned." He soon found that the skeptical Indians rejected the offers for peace – as always, on Spanish terms – and that they had gathered forces at the largest Tiguex village – Moho – to make another stand. Coronado tried, without success, to storm Moho, taking many casualties. He then laid siege to the pueblo, finally bringing it to its knees in a holocaust of blood and enslavement near the end of March in 1541. "That ended the siege," said Castenada, "and the town was captured, although there were a few who remained in one part of the town and were captured a few days later." Again, Coronado hauled Bigotes, Cacique, The Turk and Sopete to a smoldering scene of the destruction and death to witness Spanish conquest. He then solidified his triumph over Tiguex by sending conquistadors to torch and demolish other pueblos in the province and to loot provisions for his army. Now it was time to think about Quivira and its kingdoms of gold and silver.

The Trail from Tiguex to Quivira

"Through the long, cold, winter months while the army was encamped on the banks of the Rio Grande," said Bolton, "the captive Turk continued to talk about the wonders of Quivira, teasing the imagination of the Spaniards with new revelations nicely spaced, and stimulating their manifest desire to see the country farther on…"

Coronado wanted to believe The Turk&rsquos tales. On the Great Plains, he might find an opportunity to salvage his expedition, so far, a failure. He had found no treasure at the Zuni or Hopi villages. He saw the possibility of repaying the investors slipping away. He saw his big chance to get rich fading. He fretted about a tarnished reputation in Mexico and Spain. Now, he thought, he had to investigate The Turk&rsquos stories of treasure as a matter of duty to the Spanish monarchy.

Bigotes told Coronado The Turk lied. Cacique told him The Turk lied. Sopete told him The Turk lied. In fact, said Castaneda, "There were already some in the army who suspected The Turk, because a Spaniard named Cervantes, who had charge of him during the siege at Moho, solemnly swore that he had seen The Turk talking with the devil in a pitcher of water." How could you trust a man who speaks with the devil in a pitcher of water ?

Still, in late April, 1541, Coronado put his entire expedition on the trail into the Great Plains, bound for Quivira and The Turk&rsquos purported kingdoms of gold and silver. According to Bolton, the column now included more than 1500 marchers, including conquistadors, several wives, Mexican Indian allies, servants and slaves. The herders drove 1000 horses, 500 cattle and some 5000 sheep. "The Turk asked why they loaded the horses so heavily with supplies, saying they would become tired out &lsquoand unable to bring back all the gold and silver they would find.&rsquo"

Although the precise route will likely remain forever unknown, Bolton suggested that the trail from the Tiguex province to Pecos may have led northward up the Rio Grande then turned northeast past the northern end of the Sandia Mountains, the range immediately to the east of Albuquerque. It could have led past Cerrillos, the village near the ancient mines which yielded the turquoise for the prehistoric Chaco Anasazi Puebloan trade with Mesoamerica. Plausibly, the trail led from Cerrillos up through Lamy Canyon and then through Glorietta Pass near the site where Union and Confederate forces would clash in a bloody Civil War battle almost exactly 321 years later. It descended through the pass to the Pecos Pueblo. Between Tiguex and Pecos, the column filed past numerous ruins of earlier pueblos, some apparently abandoned in the wake of relentless attacks by Indian tribes from the Great Plains, a warfare which began well before the arrival of the Spanish.

When he left Pecos in the first week of May 1541, having released Bigotes and Cacique to the great joy and relief of their people, Coronado would rely on The Turk as his guide, with Sopete soon calling the route into question. Two of our foremost authorities, Richard and Shirley Cushing Flint, writing in The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva, suggest that the trail led due south from the pueblo at first, away from the Pecos River. It ascended a gentle slope onto the Glorieta Mesa, bore southeast across fairly level terrain, then descended through Blanco Canyon back to the Pecos River. It followed the right bank, to a ford a few miles downstream from the junction of a tributary called the Gallinas River. It was a four-day journey.

Probably because of heavy spring snow melt, the Pecos had "𠉪 large, deep current…," according to Castaneda. The column "had to stop here to make a bridge so as to cross it. It was finished in four days, by much diligence and rapid work, and as soon as it was done the whole army and the animals crossed." Coronado, following the directions of The Turk, likely conducted his column due east, according to a paper by archaeologists Donald J. Blakeslee, Richard Flint and Jack T. Hughes in The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva. Coronado rejected the advice of Sopete, who advised the column should have headed, not east, but northeast.

The trail eastward would have led 65 or 70 miles to Tucumcari Mountain, a peak only a few miles southeast of the New Mexico community of Tucumcari. It continued east for another 35 or 40 miles, ascending a wide and gentle drainage to the table lands of the Llano Estacado and buffalo country. With the direction set by The Turk and protested by Sopete, the trail now turned, not northeast, but southeast, into an utterly trackless landscape. From here, the expedition would see, said Coronado, "…no more landmarks than as if we had been swallowed up in the sea�use there was not a stone, nor a bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub nor anything to go by." The entire expedition, including the guides, was soon lost. Apparently, the passage trended generally southeast. Blakeslee, Flint and Hughes surmise that it eventually reached the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado, apparently at a drainage called Blanco Canyon, where the Spaniards discovered an encampment of nomadic buffalo hunting Indians called "Teya." Blakeslee and his colleagues are not without evidence. They report that archaeological surveys of the site in the canyon, 45 miles northeast of Lubbock, Texas, have yielded 16th century Spanish copper and iron crossbow points, a chain mail glove, a chain mail vest fragment, scabbard tip, knife blade, harness hardware, horseshoes, horseshoe nails and carpenter nails.

Evidently advised by the Teya in Blanco Canyon that The Turk had misled him, Coronado, at last, lost faith in the Indian. He now recruited Sopete as his guide. He turned his expedition to the north. Blakeslee and his co-authors suggest that the trail may have led across Quitaque Canyon, Los Lingos Canyon and Tule Canyon—drainages which spill down the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado. It appears to have reached Palo Duro Canyon at about the location of the modern Texas state park, where Coronado camped for two weeks to hunt buffalo. Again, Blakeslee and the other authors are not without tangible evidence. They report that "𠉪 single fragment of chain mail and a sixteenth-century Spanish spur have been found…" in the area.

It was late May. Crucial provisions were running short after the long detour by way of Blanco Canyon. The horses were suffering from the hardships of the trail. Coronado "�ter consulting with the captains, determined to proceed with 30 of the best men who were well equipped, and that the army [that is, the rest of the expedition] should return to the river [to Tiguex on the Rio Grande]," according to the Relacion of the Suceso ("an account of the event"), written by an unknown chronicler and translated by George Parker Winship in his The Journey of Coronado, 1540-1542. "…this was done at once."

"�ter proceeding many days by the needle [of a primitive compass] it pleased God that after thirty days&rsquo march we found the river Quivira [the Arkansas River], which is 30 leagues [roughly 78 miles] below the settlement [of Quivira]." Apparently, if the trail, in fact, proceeded generally northward from Palo Duro Canyon, it would have led by a prehistoric passage across the Texas Panhandle and the Oklahoma Panhandle into central Kansas and the Quiviran province. There, they found, not the hoped-for kingdoms of gold and silver, but rather, simple Plains Indian villages. "The houses which these Indians have were of straw, and most of them round, and the straw reached down to the ground like a wall…" said Juan Jaramillo in his chronicle, published in Winship&rsquos The Journey of Coronado, 1540-1542.

Although Coronado saw that the "country presents a very fine appearance," as Jaramillo said, he had found no treasure. A month passed. Coronado knew that the summer had neared its end. He would soon face bitter cold and short provisions. He could see the Quivirans growing more hostile by the day at least partially as a result of intrigues with The Turk. Coronado heard that more distant villages only offered more disappointment. Finally, he, with the concurrence of his conquistadors, decided to give up the search for treasure, return to Tiguex and rejoin the main expedition for the winter.

Prior to beginning the journey back, Coronado released Sopete, who, in good faith, had guided the Spaniards from Blanco Canyon to Quivira. Bowing to the wrath of his force, Coronado allowed the conquistadors to torture The Turk into confessing that he had conspired with the Pecos Pueblo to lead the expedition astray, hopefully to its doom. Coronado then gave the order to execute The Turk, but in secret to avoid provoking the Quivirans. Soldiers put the former guide "under guard and strangled him that night so that he never waked up," according to Jaramillo. Two or three days into the return journey, said Jaramillo, "The general raised a cross𠉪t the foot of which he made some letters with a chisel, which said that Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, general of that army, had arrived here." Coronado rejoined his full expedition at Tiguex about the middle of September 1541.

The Unforgettable Plains

Judging by the chronicles translated by Winship, it seems that the Spaniards felt more sense of awe and fear in the Llano Estacado than perhaps in any other land crossed during the entire expedition. They sensed something primal and elemental and terribly powerful in the empty pale blue sky, the overwhelming summer sun, the stunningly starlit night skies, the grassy tableland, the relentless winds, the multitudinous buffalo herds, the prowling gray wolf packs, the nomadic peoples, the towering and incomprehensibly violent thunderstorms. While the mountains of northern New Mexico recalled those of Spain, the Llano Estacado felt like a strange and alien land, threatening, frighteningly mysterious.

Coronado described the plains as "…so vast that I did not find the limit anywhere that I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues. And I found such a quantity of cows…that it is impossible to number them, for while I was journeying through these plains, until I returned to where I first found them, there was not a day that I lost sight of them."

"The country is so level that men became lost when they went off half a league. One horseman was lost, who never reappeared, and two horses, all saddled and bridled, which they never saw again. No track was left of where they went…" according to the "Translado de Las Nuevas," written by an anonymous chronicler and translated by Winship.

An advance party nearing the eastern escarpment, said Castaneda, "…killed a large number of bulls [buffalo]. As these fled they trampled one another in their haste until the came to a ravine. So many of the animals fell into this that they filled it up, and the rest went across on top of them. The men who were chasing them on horseback fell in among the animals without noticing where they were going. Three of the horses that fell in among the cows, all saddled and bridled, were lost sight of completely."

"The maintenance and sustenance of [the nomadic buffalo-hunting] Indians comes entirely from the cows, because they neither sow nor reap corn," according to the "Translado de Las Nuevas." "With the skins they make their houses, with the skins they clothe and shoe themselves, of the skins they make rope, and also of the wool from the sinews they make thread… from the bones they make awls the dung serves them for wood… the stomachs serve them for pitchers and vessels from which they drink they live on the flesh they sometimes eat it half roasted and warmed over the dung, at other times raw seizing it with their fingers, they pull it out with one hand and with a flint knife in the other they cut off mouthfuls…they drink the blood just as it leaves the cows… they have no other means of livelihood."

While the expedition camped in Blanco Canyon, said Castaneda, "𠉪 tempest came up one afternoon with a very high wind and hail, and in a very short space of time a great quantity of hailstones, as big as bowls, or bigger, fell as thick as raindrops, so that in places they covered the ground two or three spans or more deep. …there was not a horse which did not break away… …some of them dashed up on to the sides of the ravine so that they got them down with great difficulty… The hail broke many tents, and battered many helmets, and wounded many of the horses, and broke all the crockery of the army…"

During the two-week encampment presumably in Palo Duro Canyon, hunters, said Castaneda, "…killed 500 bulls. The number of these they were there without any cows was something incredible. Many fellows were lost at this time who went out hunting and did not get back to the army for two or three days, wandering about the country as if they were crazy… Every night they took account of who was missing, fired guns and blew trumpets and beat drums and built great fires, but yet some of them went off so far and wandered about so much that all this did not give them any help…"

The Sad Winter of 1541/1542

With the expedition reunited at Tiguex for the winter of 1541and 1542, Coronado bore a heavy burden of discouragement and despair, according to Bolton. Although he would have redefined the Spanish notion of the North American continent and established a Spanish claim to vast new empire, he had found no treasure for his men and his sponsors, no great new estates for his conquistadors, no willing new subjects for the crown, no willing converts for the Church. He had alienated the Indians. His Sonoran colony, San Hieronimo de los Corazones, had collapsed. He saw his own popularity eroding, morale declining, disputes emerging, provisions and supplies dwindling. His camp not only suffered from the winter cold, it endured an infestation of lice. Coronado yearned for his family.

As that sad winter drew to a close, "the general went out on horseback to amuse himself, as usual, riding with the captain Don Rodrigo Maldonado," said Castenada. "He was on a powerful horse, and his servants had put on a new girth, which must have been rotten at the time, for it broke during the race and he fell over on the side where Don Rodrigo was, and as his horse passed over him it hit his head with its hoof, which laid him at the point of death, and his recovery was slow and doubtful."

Healing, but possibly with some permanent brain damage, Coronado "recollected what a scientific friend of his in Salamanca had told him, that he would become a powerful lord in distant lands, and that he would have a fall from which he would never be able to recover," said Castaneda. "This expectation of death made him desire to return and die where he had a wife and children."

In early April of 1542, a little more than two years after he led his expedition in a pageant of splendor from Compostela, the 32-year old Francisco Vasquez de Coronado who indeed "would never be able to recover" from his terrible fall, gathered his great expedition and turned southward toward home, completing an epic journey of more than 4000 miles.

Following Coronado&rsquos Trail

Although Coronado&rsquos expedition ranks among the most famous in the history of North America, generations of scholars have not been able to pin down the exact routes which the party followed across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. In most instances, they have no more than a few tantalizing clues about the trails. However, researchers have been able to identify some of the specific sites which Coronado and his conquistadors either visited or passed, thanks to various chronicles and to 16th century Spanish artifactual materials.

1. From the Border Crossing to Cibola

The Coronado National Memorial visitor center and museum, operated by the National Park Service, lies in the general vicinity of Coronado&rsquos crossing into the American Southwest. It is located at the southern end of the Huachuca Mountains, near today&rsquos border between Arizona and Sonoran and about half way between Douglas and Nogales. Close to the visitor center and museum, you will find an overview into the valley of the San Pedro River, which Coronado&rsquos expedition likely followed for some 100 miles northward.

Unfortunately, the presumed trail, which crosses the northeastern Sonoran Desert, ascends the forested Mogollon Rim, and leads to Cibola, or the modern Zuni Pueblo, is largely inaccessible by car. The ruins of Hawikuh, where Coronado and an advance guard defeated the Zunis in the battle of July 7, 1540, lie about 10 miles south southwest of Zuni. You should inquire at the tribal office in Zuni about possible Hawikuh visits or tours.

2. From Cibola to Tiguex

From Zuni – Cibola – you can follow State Highway 53 east and then north, and while the asphalt roadway does not coincide with Coronado&rsquos probable trail to Tiguex, it will take you past the forested Zuni Mountains, on your left, where Coronado and his conquistadors found badly needed water. You will pass the El Morro National Monument, the 200-foot-high monolith which likely was seen by Coronado it served as a dramatic way station on prehistoric and early historic trails, a prominent slate for prehistoric symbols and historic inscriptions, and a village site for 13th century Puebloan peoples. You will skirt the northwestern edge of the mal pais lava beds which punished Coronado&rsquos men and horses during various journeys east and west.

You will intersect Interstate Highway 40 at Grants, New Mexico. If you turn eastward toward Albuquerque, you will, within 12 to 15 miles, discover the intersection to the Indian Reservation Road 38, which will take you south a dozen miles to Acoma, the lofty pueblo which captivated Coronado as well his captains and soldiers. You can return to IH 40, turn east to Albuquerque, then head south on State Highway 314 for 12 miles along the Rio Grande to the historic pueblo of Isleta, which Coronado and his troop passed en route upstream to their 1540/1541winter quarters at Alcanfor, in the Puebloan province of Tiguex. Isleta would become the home of a famed Spanish mission church, which still stands and hosts services in the middle of the community. You can travel north of Albuquerque on IH 25 about a dozen miles to Bernalillo and the Coronado State Monument Park and the ruins of the Tiguex pueblo called Kuaua, no more than a few miles north of the likely location of Coronado&rsquos winter campsite. The park museum houses an exhibit of perhaps the finest Puebloan ceremonial chamber murals still in existence.

3. From Tiguex to Pecos

From the old Tiguex province, which encompassed Albuquerque and Bernalillo, you will not find any road which overlays Coronado&rsquos most likely trail to Pecos, but you can take IH 40 east across the pass between the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges and turn north on State Highway 14, the "Turquoise Trail." It takes you through the quaint villages of Golden and Madrid and into Cerrillos, located in the center of the Indian turquoise mining region through which Coronado likely passed en route to Pecos. Cerrillos, which has a mining museum, has served as a set in the theatrical motion picture Young Guns and the television miniseries Lonesome Dove. From Cerrillos, SH 14 will take you to an intersection with IH 25, a few miles southwest of Santa Fe. If you travel eastward on IH for 20 to 25 miles, you will find the intersection to SH 50, which will take you straight through the site of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass – a conflict often called "the Gettysburg of the West" – and into the village of Pecos. From there, you turn south on SH 63, which will take you to the Pecos National History Park and the Pecos Pueblo, where Coronado paused with his entire expedition before embarking for the Great Plains. Check at the National Park Service visitor&rsquos center about arranging a tour of the Glorieta battlefield. You can follow the pathways through the Pueblo Ruin in a self-guided tour.

4. From Pecos to Blanco Canyon

From Pecos to Blanco Canyon, Coronado&rsquos route is much disputed among scholars. If you were to drive south from the Pecos region to IH 40 and turn east to Tucumcari, New Mexico, you will see, just to the south, Tucumcari Mountain, which Coronado&rsquos expedition probably passed. Continuing eastward on IH 40, you will ascend the western escarpment of the Llano Estacado and emerge on the flat plain where the immense herds of buffalo once grazed. At the community of Vega, Texas, you can turn southward to Floydada, about 50 or 60 miles northeast of Lubbock. On the north side of the town square, you will discover the Floyd County Historical Museum, a small and nondescript institution which holds exhibits of several of those treasured artifacts which have proven the presence of the Coronado expedition in the nearby Blanco Canyon.

5. From Blanco Canyon to Quivira

From Floydada and Blanco Canyon, you can drive northward near the eastern escarpment of the Llano Estacado to Palo Duro Canyon, a startling natural sculpture carved by wind and water in the heart of the high plain. From there to central Kansas, Coronado&rsquos route is basically unknown, but at the Coronado-Quivira Museum in Lyons, about 35 miles northwest of Hutchison, you will find exhibits about the Spanish explorers of the region.

6. Other Coronado Sites

During the expedition, many pueblos and sites which did not lie along the primary trail were visited by Coronado as well as his scouting parties. Many of those pueblos of Coronado&rsquos time have long since been abandoned, but a few remain as thriving communities, for instance: Taos, a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark about one and a half hour drive north northeast from Santa Fe, which would foster a major Puebloan revolt against Spanish rule in 1680 and would give rise to a thriving art colony in the 19th and 20th centuries.

San Ildefonso, about a half hour drive north northwest from Santa Fe, which would set the standard for the artistry and craftsmanship of modern Puebloan ceramics, primarily because of the work of Maria Martinez and her husband Zia, about three quarters of an hour drive north northwest of Albuquerque, suffered devastating losses in the 1680 revolt of the pueblos but, in modern times, as an expression of friendship, would still loan its tribal sun symbol to New Mexico as the state&rsquos insignia and the Hopi villages, a couple of hours northeast of Flagstaff, would manage to sustain and nurture ancient tribal traditions into modern times, primarily because they were the most isolated of all the Puebloan communities. Of all the sites in the Southwestern landscape visited by the conquistadors of Coronado, there was none more spectacular than the incomparable Grand Canyon, that masterpiece of the master sculptor.

Spring into Outdoor Fun with These Books

A growing body of research from the scientific community demonstrates the many benefits of spending time in nature, including meaningful improvements on mental and physical health. But when the weather becomes dauntingly cold, it’s easy to get in a rut of staying indoors. Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to be remembered what peace, gratitude and pure joy can be experienced by spending some time outside. Check out these publications for the motivation you need to get your family into the great outdoors this spring!

Connecting People to Their Public Lands 2017 provides an overview of accomplishments by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the areas of education, volunteers, and youth involvement. The report outlines BLM’s programs that provide opportunities for Americans to connect with their public lands and waters to pursue healthy, active lifestyles. Read about the initiatives, including a series of BLM’s Junior Ranger Program, Every Kid in a Park, Hands on the Land, and others, and all their wonderful benefits, in this report. Included in the report are inspirational accounts of visitors, volunteers, and students who have cleaned up trash in rivers, tasted wild raspberries, smelled Labrador leaves, and hiked over rocks and falls. You’ll be fascinated to learn about the great work this agency is doing, from educating underrepresented youth on environmental education to creating plans for more recreational trails to hosting wildland firefighting training courses for military veterans.

Published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation provides a detailed snapshot of our nation’s passion for wildlife and nature. According to Gregory Sheehan of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the report “serves as a road map” to guide the agency’s efforts to “reach more Americans and provide them with opportunities to hunt, fish, and otherwise enjoy America’s wildlife and wild places.” The results are astonishing. In 2016, more than 103 million Americans (that’s 40% of the U.S. population 16 years and older) participated in some sort of fishing, hunting, or other wildlife-associated recreation such as birdwatching or outdoor photography.

With all their youthful energy, little ones need to get outside and run around. One of the newest Junior Ranger Activity Booklets, Wilderness Explorer, provides the opportunity for them to do just that. The booklet starts the rangers off by having them pack essentials they want to bring on their adventure. It then takes them through Wilderness Areas in the United States. It teaches them how to Leave No Trace on their public lands by picking up litter, recycling and reusing. The booklet instructs Little Junior Rangers to think like a scientist and create a hypothesis around something they observe in nature.

Members of the Coronado Expedition walked nearly 4,000 miles throughout the two-year journey. Now it’s your family’s turn to follow in Coronado’s footsteps with the Coronado National Memorial Junior Ranger Guide. Take a trip to Coronado National Memorial in Sierra Vista, Arizona and bring this handy adventure guide along. Here, you might see 55 different kinds of mammals from baby bats to big black bears. Even explore Coronado Cave and be on the lookout for stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. This booklet encourages kids to do something we all should do more often: sit and be. It instructs kids to take a bit of time to rest, listen, smell and watch. That’s one the adults might want to get in on as well!

Finally, a visit to Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico with Bandelier National Monument Junior/Deputy Ranger Booklet in tow is bound to be a trip you won’t forget. Junior Rangers will find a Ponderosa Pine, interview a Park Ranger, and identify alien plants, making for a trip they’ll tell all their friends about when they return home.

The season of frolicking under wandering clouds, tending to blossoming buds, and when lucky, stumbling across beautiful birds’ nests is finally here. Spring is easily one of the best seasons to spend time outside. So whether you plan a structured trip to explore wildlife and various landscapes, or just explore the beauty in your own backyard, we hope you enjoy your time in nature this season.

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The Mysterious Journey of Friar Marcos de Niza

Marcos de Niza was the first explorer to report the Seven Cities of Cibola, and his report launched the Coronado expedition.

Marcos de Niza was a priest who was sent north from Mexico City by Viceroy Mendoza in 1538-39 to search for wealthy cities that were rumored to be somewhere north of the frontier of New Spain. In early 1539 he left the frontier at Compostela and journeyed north into the unknown for several months. In the summer of 1539 he returned and wrote a report saying he had discovered the cities - in a province called Cibola (the present-day native American pueblo of Zuni, New Mexico). He said he reached the first city and saw it from a distance, but because his companion had been killed there, he returned without entering it.

Most popular writers claim Marcos reported gold in Cibola, but his original report says nothing about gold. Nonetheless, conquistadors in Mexico city were exited by his news and assumed Cibola would be as wealthy as the conquered Aztec empire. Marcos led Coronado's army back to Cibola the next year, in 1540, but he became the scapegoat when Cibola turned out to have no gold, and the soldiers said he was a liar.

The big mystery about Marcos is whether he told the truth. Historians have argued for centuries about whether Marcos - a priest with a good reputation - simply interviewed some natives near the present border, and turned back without seeing Cibola. Also at issue: did he promote the rumors that Cibola was full of gold? Several prominent 20th century historians concluded Marcos did not have time to reach Cibola in 1539. They said he made up a fraudulent report as part of a conspiracy with Viceroy Mendoza to encourage the conquest of the north. Other historians have defended him.

Read What Marcos Himself Said

The Relación , or Report, that Marcos submitted about his explorations is still in print. The best modern edition and commentary is by Cleve Hallenbeck, published in 1949 by Southern Methodist University Press in a handsome edition, reprinted in 1987 by the same publisher. The original Spanish is presented as well as an English translation and a detailed commentary. Hallenbeck's was one of the scholars who believed Marcos lied about the journey, and his commentary about "the lying Monk," as he calls him, makes entertaining and provocative reading.

The Controversy Rages On

Marco died in 1558 in disgrace, everyone having blamed him for leading Coronado's army on a fruitless quest under false pretenses. The actual personality of the man is very unclear, and it is exciting to go back through the documents and try to understand what really happened. The French scholar Bandelier (1886, 1890 -- see reference list) re-examined the case and concluded Marcos had told the truth. Carl Sauer (1932) published a thorough but hard-to-find analysis of Marcos and his route in "The Road to Cibola." Other crucial studies of Marcos and his journey were published in the New Mexico Historical Review by Henry Wagner (1934), Carl Sauer (1937, 1941), claiming that Marcos was a complete fraud, having turned back near the present-day border without reaching Cibola, and that he was part of a secret conspiracy with Viceroy Mendoza to promote exploration of the north. Lansing Bloom (1940, 1941) attacked the faulty claim by Wagner and Sauer that Marcos had inadequate time to reach Cibola. William Hartmann (1997) argued from more modern archaeological data that Marcos was on well-known trade routes and did complete his journey, essentially as he described it.

Purposes of Marcos' Journey

Viceroy Mendoza gave Marcos a specific list of instructions which we still have. The main goal was to find news of any wealthy northern cities, rumors of which had been reported 1536 by Cabeza de Vaca when he and his party, wandered near the present US-Mexico border.

Many scholars ignore that a second general goal of Mendoza was to get information about the coast, because he believed it might be possible to mount a conquest of that area by sea. In fact, Cortés, conqueror of the Aztecs, was already building ships in a race to reach the north before Mendoza! Cabeza de Vaca had speculated that the northern trading center might be near the coast. Remember that many Spaniards still thought Mexico was an island, and thus that, somewhere in the north, the western coastline would curve around to the east.

A third goal was to report on the land route, the people, minerals and products, etc.

Many scholars, especially Hallenbeck (1949), berate Marcos for not following these orders. Hallenbeck claims he ignored virtually all of them, which is overly pessimistic. It is true that Marcos did not report as much detail as modern scholars would like, but from the vantage point of modern archaeology and geology, we can see that his brief Relación , or report, was correct in describing the location of Cibola, the architecture and customs, the turn of the coastline (to the west, not east), and some habits of natives in Sonora. The Relación also notes that Marcos provided a list of names of islands and possibly other geographic information in a separate document, now lost. The existence of this second document, with its list of names, may explain why the main Relacion is sketchy about geography.

The Mysterious Journey of Marcos de Niza

The route of Marcos in 1539 is known in very rough outline, but scholars have grand arguments over the details. Remember that Marcos led the Coronado army over more or less the same route in 1540. Thus, it is an exciting game of modern archaeological sleuthing to try to reconstruct his path from his statements. He started in Culiacan on March 7, 1539. By early April he was in a native village called Vacapa, where the people had not heard of the Spanish Christians, and where he spent some days. He stated he left there April 7. Some weeks after that, he departed from the main Cibola route to investigate the coast, correctly reporting that the coastline did not turn inland toward Cibola, but rather turned sharply west. The other specific date he reported is May 9, when he entered the final, 15-day " despoblado ," or unpopulated stretch, prior to reaching Cibola. This would place him at or near Cibola around May 24.

A key to the route and rate of travel is the location of Vacapa, since Marcos gave the date he left there. Some scholars have placed it near the south border of Sonora, a few days north of Culiacan, but that is too far south both in terms of travel time and also because the Spanish slave raiders would have been known in that area, contradicting Marcos' comment that Christians were unknown there. Others placed at the north border of Sonora, near the north end of the Gulf of California, but that is too far north, because Marcos did not learn of the coastal turn until some days north of there. The best location for Vacapa, based on travel time and use of a place name "Vacapan" in the Coronado army chronicles, is in central Sonora near the famous village of Corazones, a town first reported by Cabeza de Vaca, where Coronado established a base camp.

Modern scholars virtually all put Corazones near the modern town of Ures. Near there is a river and village now called Matape, which might be a corruption of the old place name Vacapa. (Spanish renderings of native place names were usually only approximations, and indeed, different Spaniards often used different spellings.) A good guess, made by Bandelier as early as 1886, thus places Vacapa near Matape.

More details of the arguments, and a modern reconstruction of the route, are given by Hartmann (1997). With Vacapa placed in central Sonora, the rest of the route makes sense. After that point, Marcos may have stayed closer to the coast (following his orders) than the route used the next year by Coronado, up to the point where the coast turned west (about the latitude of the present border. Then he turned northeast. Coronado chronicles (but not Marcos' own document) say he discovered a famous old ruin, called Chichilticale, which was a major campsite just before plunging north into the 15-day despoblado . It was probably a pueblo ruin in southeast Arizona. The 15-day wilderness was the mountainous area north of the Gila River, which the route probably crossed somewhere near Safford, between the modern towns of Duncan and Bylas..

Origin of the Name "Cibola"

Marcos de Niza was the first person to record the name Cibola, reported to him by Estevan the Moor, who learned it from native informants. The term probably comes from a native term for buffalo, and refers to the vigorous trade in buffalo hides and other buffalo products, conducted from Cibola. As Marcos recorded from numerous interviews of natives in central and northern Sonora, the natives of that area made numerous trade trips, 20 to 30 days' journey north along the well-established Cibola trail, to work or trade at Cibola in return for buffalo hides, turquoise, and other materials. These facts give interesting insight into daily life of prehistoric peoples of southwest North America at the time the Europeans arrived.

Marcos de Niza collected what he called "cow hides" from the Indians in Sonora, Mexico, who first told him about Cibola. "Cibola" was a word that apparently referred to buffalos, and the buffalo products that the Zunis acquired in trade from other Indians to the east. This illustration, from 15__, shows that the Spanish soon acquired at least a rough idea of the nature of the "cows" of the plains.

More Details of Marcos' Journey:

The expedition of Marcos de Niza from Culiacan to Cibola in 1539 consisted of three principle explorers: Marcos de Niza, who was in charge, a second priest named Honorato, and a Moorish servant, Estevan Dorantes. Known as Estevan the Black, Estevan had been with Cabeza de Vaca's party, was familiar with native customs, and was the first African to explore the modern Southwest. Along with these three were dozens, or on some days hundreds, of native admirers. Especially during the first part of the trip, they greeted Marcos as a great emancipator, because he brought word that Viceroy Mendoza had freed northern Sinoloa and southern Sonora from the Spanish slave raider, Guzman, who had previously terrorized the area.

Honorato fell ill in one of the first native villages a week or so after the expedition began, and was left behind. Marcos, Estevan, and their party, initially stayed near the coast, reporting on islands and habits of the coastal people. In a few weeks they turned inland to the town of Vacapa, in a region beyond the known frontier, where the residents had not seen Spaniards.

In a fateful decision, Marcos sent Estevan a few days ahead to reconnoiter the route, while Marcos waited for a party he had sent west to bring more information about the coast. Estevan had strict orders to send back word and wait for Marcos. Estevan must have been an extremely charismatic and enterprising figure. We know from the Cabeza de Vaca account that he had adopted the persona of a native shaman, and often preceded the other castaways into villages and enthusing the natives. Several later accounts from the Coronado army suggest that he had numerous dalliances with native women along the way north with Marcos.

At any rate, Estevan soon sent back word from a spot about three days ahead, that from native informants he had discovered the existence of a wonderful northern trade center, "the greatest thing in the world." It was named Cibola, and was roughly another 30 days' travel ahead. He sent one of these informants back to Marcos, but Estevan himself was so excited by the news that he declined to wait for Marcos.

Starting on April 7, Marcos left Vacapa and soon encountered the region where the natives knew of Cibola. He interviewed them carefully, always gathering consistent and increasingly glowing reports of the northern city. In the central Sonoran villages where Marcos traveled, the natives had only small brush huts and possibly some one-floor, one-room structures of adobe-like material. But Cibola had multi-story permanent buildings! Marcos wrote in an engaging style about what he learned:

    These people had as much knowledge of Cíbola as in New Spain we have of Mexico City, or in Peru they have of Cuzco.

Right: This view of the stonework in the ruins of the Zuni town of Hawikuh - standing in 1539-40 - confirms Marcos' description of stone-built walls in Cibola.

Marcos proceeded north, describing well-watered river valleys with villages and irrigated fields dotted along each stream. He tried to catch up to Estevan, but the Moor always remained several days ahead. In each village he added to his information about Cibola and its people. Earlier in the trip he mentioned showing samples of gold and other metals to the natives, in order to learn if metals were used in the area. In that instance, he reported that Indians in the inland mountains, to the east, were alleged to have gold. (Later Spaniards could not confirm this and considered another of Marcos' lies, but in fact gold was mined in that area in later centuries.) However, in the case of Cibola, it is curious that Marcos never mentions gold, or showing his gold samples. He does, however, correctly report that many turquoises were traded from that area, and that turquoises were embedded in some door frames. This apparently led to a belief by the conquistadors that Cibola/Zuni had doors and walls studded with jewels. Once again, Marcos was charged with lying. However, once again, his report was literally correct. As ethnologists confirmed in the 1800s, the Zunis sometimes worked a good luck turquoise into the entryway of a home, but as Coronado was sadly to learn, they had no great transportable wealth, either in turquoise, gold, or any other material precious to the Spanish.

Marcos must have continued to ask about the configuration of the coast, because nearly two weeks after heading north out of Vacapa, he picked up information that the coast turned west. Now he had a dilemma. Should he try to catch up with Estevan on the Cibola trail, or should he make a side trip to the west to bring the Viceroy information about the coastline? He opted for the latter. Perhaps it was a half-hearted diversion, because he gives it only a few vague lines:

  • Here, I learned that the coast turns abruptly to the west, though it had been running to the north. As a change in the direction of the coast was a matter of importance I wished to learn about it, and so I went to view it, and saw clearly that, in latitude 35 degrees, it turns to the west.

This is generally regarded as an overstatement, because the coast at the north end of the gulf is harsh and barren desert country, and there is no single spot from which one can clearly visually confirm the major curve to the west toward the mouth of the Colorado river. Perhaps the sense of it is that Marcos made the downstream trip toward the coast and from talking to many villagers "came to understand clearly that, at about latitude 35 , it turns to the west" - which was essentially true, though a more accurate latitude measure would have been 31 to 31.5 .

In a few more vague lines of text, Marcos has returned to the Cibola trail, in pursuit of Estevan, who, to his distress, gathered a large band of admirers along the last populated valley before the 15-day wilderness (probably the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona), and plunged ahead into the mountainous country (the White Mountains of east central Arizona, north of the Gila River).

Incidentally, Marcos' account makes it clear that throughout this journey, the enthused natives acted as his guides and bearers on the Cibola trail, arranging his overnight stops. At least some of the time they used traditional campsites, and Marcos remarks on seeing campsites that had been used by Estevan. This proves Marcos was on a well-known route with natives carrying most of his supplies - not bushwhacking through unknown wilderness.

So enthused were the natives of this last valley, that they organized a second party of "chiefs" from various villages to accompany Marcos to Cibola. On May 9, they entered the final 15-day despoblado , expecting to be reunited with Estevan around May 24 in the wondrous city of Cibola.

In a dramatic turn of events, Marcos' party met a handful of bloodied refugees a few days south of Cibola. Impetuous Estevan, they reported, had ignored orders from the governor of Cibola not to approach or enter the city. Apparently the governor was apprehensive about Estevan, who appeared as a strange, dark-skinned shaman, traveling with two Castillian greyhounds. Estevan, full of confidence from his experiences five years earlier, had laughed off the governor's orders and approached anyway where he was held for at least one night in a building outside the city. A skirmish ensued. Some of the southern Arizona natives in the entourage were killed or injured, and Estevan, too, was reported killed. (The death of Estevan in this way was confirmed a year later by Coronado's army.)

Marcos' entourage from southern Arizona almost turned on him, but after prayer and a distribution of gifts, Marcos talked his way out of the situation.

    I proceeded to distribute what I had left of the garments and trade articles, to calm them, and I urged them to realize that even if they killed me, they could really not harm me because I would die a Christian, and would go to heaven. But those who killed me would suffer for it, because more Christians would come in search for me and kill all of them, even thought that would be against my own wishes. These words and my other speeches appeased them, though they still were angry over the people who had been killed.

At this point, Marcos retreated as fast as possible, "more full of fear than food," as he said ironically. In the last populated valleys, of southern Arizona, he found the people now hostile, because of the debacle - a fact that was to cause Coronado a less than joyous reception a year later.

Marcos gives few details of his return trip. Apparently he turned up in Mexico City in mid to late August. On August 23, Bishop Zumarraga, in Mexico City, wrote a letter with some details of Marcos' discoveries, possibly after chatting with him. On August 26, a copy of his Relación was certified and dated by the superiors of his Franciscan order. On September 2, it was delivered in person to the Viceroy at a court function where Marcos answered questions in front of various witnesses.

The return of Marcos initiated a period of intense rumor-mongering in Mexico City, as attested by various historians. Many writers say that Marcos claimed that Cibola had gold and fabulous wealth, and that this was the cause of the Coronado expedition. However, the Relación does not make these claims, and eyewitness testimony collected in November 1539 refers primarily (six out of seven testimonies) to rumors that Marcos had returned and found a "rich and populous" land to the north - not that he had found gold.

It is clear that Coronado's expedition expected to find gold, and people invested heavily in it for that reason, but it is difficult to prove that Marcos himself promised gold. Perhaps he speculated in this direction in private, or perhaps this rumor merely spread by a 16th century game of "telephone," based on the fact that Cortés and Pizarro had conquered golden empires only a few years earlier - suggesting that every native empire had fabulous wealth.

Did Marcos Really Reach Cibola?

The fact that Cibola turned out not to have gold caused the soldiers of Coronado to call him a liar. This charge was magnified in later centuries especially when Sauer, Wagner, and Hallenbeck in the 1930s and 40s concluded that Marcos simply did not have time to get to Cibola and back to Mexico City in the available weeks.

Upon examination, this charge turns out to be based on conclusion by Sauer and Wagner (1934, p. 214) that Marcos himself was back in Culiacan by mid June and back in Compostela by about July 1. This in turn was based on the fact that Cortés and Mendoza, in and around Mexico City, began to correspond to rumors of Marcos' discovery by July 26. Sauer and Wagner assumed that Marcos himself had arrived by that time. However, Bloom (1940, 1941), Hartmann (1997), and Nallino and Hartmann (in press) developed seemingly conclusive proof that Marcos, following Mendoza's orders, sent back messengers with news of his discoveries. Thus, it was the good news gathered by Marcos on his way north, not Marcos himself with his more sobering final outcome, that arrived in Mexico City by messenger in July. This is supported by letters of Coronado which remark on the arrival of a message from Marcos, and in one crucial letter (written in Compostela July 15) even refer to the good treatment given Estevan. At the time of this letter, Estevan was dead, which Coronado would have known if Marcos had arrived, but would not have known if the news was in a message sent back by Marcos on the way north.

The conclusion that Marcos did not arrive in Mexico until mid to late August essentially removes the time constraint and negates any claim that he had inadequate time.

Furthermore, if (as part of a conspiracy with Mendoza) Marcos never traveled beyond the region of the modern border, as claimed by Sauer, it seems beyond belief that he would turn around and volunteer to lead the Coronado army all the way to Cibola - and expect to get away with the fraud.

Cast of Characters

Captain of ships sent northward up the Gulf of California to support the Coronado expedition. The organizers of the expedition mistakenly thought that they could supply the expedition by sea from a port that would be only a few days travel west of the route. Alarcón reached the Colorado River delta and sailed up the river in 1540, leaving a message which was later found by a branch of the expedition under Melchior Diaz.

Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nuñez
(ca. 1490- ca. 1560)

(The family name means "head of a cow" and came from a military victory against the Moors in Spain, when an ancestor used a cow's head as a symbol to warn the troops.)

Cabeza de Vaca joined an expedition to explore Florida in 1528, but the expedition was disastrously managed. After the army was separated from its ships, it built rafts and tried to cross the Gulf of Mexico from the NW coast of Florida. This group was shipwrecked near Galveston Florida. A handful of survivors were captured by poor and primitive hunter/gatherer tribes of Natives, and made servants. The last four survivors escaped around 1534, wandered across west Texas and New Mexico. They ingratiated themselves with the villagers and tribes they found, becoming known as powerful shamans. They were given many gifts including a copper bell, reported to come from a larger town to the N of their route. They turned S through Sonora, where, in 1536, they eventually stumbled into a camp of Spanish slave raiders working N from the frontier of New Spain. Their report of the copper bell and possible metal-producing northern towns was a major factor in motivating the Coronado expedition. Cabeza de Vaca later (ca. 1542, revised in 1555) published a famous book about their adventures, still in print.

Las Casas, Bartolemé de

Las Casas started as a young settler and farmer in Cuba, but converted to the priesthood. He was known for fiery sermons against the outrages of the conquistadors in Cuba and elsewhere, ca. 1510s and 20s. He wrote extensively about the problem of saving the Indians from destruction, and how to integrate them into a New World Society. Some scholars believe his writings from this period were the model for Thomas More's Utopia, published in 1516. Las Casas traveled back and forth to Europe. He compiled histories of events in the New World, and claimed to be a friend of Marcos de Niza, who discovered Cíbola, and may have been an influence on the policies of Bishop Zumarraga of Mexico.

Casteñeda, Pedro de
(15?? - after 1596)

A soldier in Coronado's army who wrote the most detailed later account of the expedition. The account was written roughly 50 years later, and is still in print. A note at the end says that the copying of the finished manuscript was completed in Seville in 1596. His account, and similar 16th century accounts of adventures in the new world, were part of the origins of the novel, as developed further by Cervantes in Spain around 1600.

Coronado, Francisco Vásquez de
(1510? - 1554)

In 1538 he was appointed governor of New Galicia, the northwest province of New Spain, on the west coast of Mexico near Compostela and Culiacan. From there he led the roughly 1200-man expedition in 1540 across Sonora and SE Arizona to the Seven Cities of Cibola (the pueblos of Zuni, New Mexico). Finding no gold or transportable wealth, he proceeded on to the pueblos around Albuquerque, where the army wintered in 1540-41. From there, they searched further for wealthy cities or trading centers, traveling across the Texas panhandle and parts of Oklahoma as far as Kansas. Although they made the first major exploration of west-central North America, the expedition was considered a defeat, because the financial backers and soldiers lost all invested, in a speculative gamble to get rich off Native gold.

Coronado returned home disappointed and lived out his life quietly on his hacienda, apparently being regarded as failure. As was common in those days, he went through two trials, in 1544 and 1547, to examine his possible mistreatment of the Indians during the expedition. He was basically acquitted on these charges, though the standards of investigation were different in those days than in the modern U.S. Generally, he has been regarded as more benign in his treatment of the native people than many of his contemporaries. He died in 1554.

Cortés, Hernan
(1485 - 1547)

Conqueror of Mexico. The Spanish base of operations after Columbus was in Cuba. Cortés was given a commission by the Governor of Cuba in 1518 to explore the Mexico coast after reports were received of substantial native towns in that region. Cortés explored and founded a town on that coast and quickly learned of the wealthy empire of the Aztecs. His commission did not include authority to march on the interior, but in a bold move he burned his ships so his army could not retreat, formed an alliance with local people who were taxed by the Aztecs, and then marched on the Aztec capital (now Mexico City) with an army of about 350 or possibly 400 Spaniards and over 1000 Indians. He was welcomed into the city on November 8, 1519, by the Aztec king, Moctezuma. He cleverly formed a curious co-rulership with him for some months, during which Moctezuma was held under house arrest by the Spaniards. All during this time, Cortés demanded and received tribute in gold, which he planned to divide between the Spanish king and his army. In testimony to his diplomacy, daring, and military power, Cortés maintained his army in the midst of a much larger population of armed Aztecs, in a city that was isolated on an island in the midst of a lake, with only a few causeways available as escape routes. The city was regarded by the Spanish as one of the most beautiful in the world, being called the Venice of the new world, for its canals and temples.

In 1520, the Cuban governor sent a force to arrest Coronado for overstepping his commission. Cortes took part of his army from Mexico City, defeated the army from Cuba, and converted them to his cause. Meanwhile, the small force that he left in Mexico City panicked and massacred many of the Aztec nobility during one of their religious festivals. Cortes returned to a tense city. On June 30, 1520, he tried to lead his army in an escape from the city, carrying their gold over the causeways, but most of the gold was lost. Cortés regrouped his Spanish army and native allies in the countryside outside Mexico City, built boats, and attacked the city in 1521. In the course of fighting his way into the city over many days, the Spanish army destroyed building after building, in order to keep from being attacked from the roofs. The army essentially destroyed the entire city, much to the sorrow of Cortés. As a result, Cortés had lost the city and much of the gold he had hoped to present to the Spanish king.

Thus, Cortés was replaced as governor of the city by Viceroy Antonio Mendoza and pursued a lifelong competition with him to find another wealthy empire. Cortés built ships on the west coast of Mexico and probed north in the 1530s, hoping to find a new empire to conquer. This led him into competition with Mendoza, who sent landward expeditions north, and who eventually sponsored Coronado's expedition to conquer Cibola (Zuni, New Mexico.)

Cortes died in 1547 at age 63, using his will to instruct his son to inquire into a philosophic question that had plagued him - whether the native "Indians" were a sub-human species or human beings with souls like the Spanish.

Diaz, Melchior

A captain in Coronado's army, usually credited with being capable and popular. About the time Coronado departed for Cibola from the base camp at Corazones, Sonora, he sent Diaz northwest with a small force to find Alarcón's ships at the head of the Gulf of California. This party made the first European crossing of the Colorado River, near Yuma, AZ. They discovered and reported geothermal hotsprings, probably the ones near Calexico, Mexico. In a bizarre horseback accident near this place, Diaz was gored in the groin by his own lance, which he had thrown at a dog chasing his sheep. His men attempted to carry him back on a litter, but he died on the way and was buried on a small hill, probably somewhere between Sonoita and Caborca, Sonora. The grave has never been found.

Dorantes, Andres
(15?? - 15??)

A colleague of Cabeza de Vaca and soldier on the disastrous Florida expedition of 1528. Dorantes was one of the four survivors who wandered across the SW and arrived in Mexico in 1536, with news of richer towns to the north. He was the master of the Moorish servant, Estevan, who played a famous role in later exploration. Dorantes had been given a large copper bell (of a type now known through archaeology), from one of these towns, and this bell convinced the Spaniards (incorrectly) that the northern peoples worked in metals. The Viceroy, Mendoza, recruited Dorantes to go back to the north and find these towns in 1537, but Dorantes instead returned to Spain and dropped out of the story at this point.

Dorantes, Estévan de
(15?? - 1539)

A.k.a. Estévan the Black or Estévanico. Estévan was a Moor, who had been captured in Spain and made a servant of Andres Dorantes. Andreas Dorantes and Estévan were survivors of the disastrous Florida expedition of 1528, shipwrecked on the Gulf coast, and wandered the SW with Cabeza de Vaca's party of four castaways (see Cabeza de Vaca). Estévan was clearly the most charismatic of the four survivors, and was described as a kind of "front man" who made initial contact with many villagers.

After the return to Mexico in 1536, Estévan was selected by Viceroy Mendoza to help lead the priest, Marcos de Niza, on a northern reconnaissance to find the northern trade centers that were rumored to lie north of the Cabeza de Vaca party's route through the SW. Marcos sent Estévan a few days ahead, where Estévan was the first to report news of the Seven Cities of Cibola, but impetuous Estévan disobeyed orders to wait for Marcos. With two greyhounds and a party of Native admirers, he charged ahead, reached Cibola (Zuni, New Mexico) nearly a week before Marcos, angered the Zunis by his flamboyant behavior, and was killed by them.

(see Dorantes, Estévan de)

Estrada, Beatriz
(1524? -1590)

Wife of Coronado. Daughter of the treasurer of New Spain, sent by the king to monitor the possible mismanagement by Cortes. Money from her family financed about a third or half of the expedition. The investment yielded no return because the expedition failed to find gold or transportable wealth.

(or Onorato, 15?? - 15??)

The somewhat mysterious priest or lay brother who accompanied Marcos de Niza north during the 1539 reconnaissance to discover Cibola. He fell ill after one or two weeks on the trail and returned to Culiacan, probably becoming one of the messengers who delivered Marcos' messages back to Mexico City before Marcos himself arrived. Nallino and Hartmann (in press, 2001, Coronado volume ed. by R. and S. Flint), speculate that he might be the same person as Juan Olmedo, an (Indian?) acolyte of Marcos, who apparently returned to Mexico City in mid-summer 1539 with Marcos' reports of the discovery of Cibola, and was later credited with the discovery himself, in several confused histories of the period published in later decades.

Jaramillo, Juan
(15?? - 15??)

A soldier in Coronado's army who wrote the second-most detailed account of the expedition. Jaramillo's account gives many good geographic details of the route.

Marcos de Niza
(1595? +/- 5 years? - 1558)

Marcos was a Franciscan priest who came to the new world in 1531, and served initially in Peru during the conquest by Pizarro. According to his contemporary, the historian Bartholeme de las Casas, he reported many atrocities by the conquistadors in Peru. He came north to Mexico in 1536-37, and was reportedly well respected by his Franciscan colleagues. He was thus selected by the Viceroy, Mendoza, to make an exploration north to find the reported wealthy cities rumored to be there. He left Mexico City with Coronado in 1538, departed Coronado's outpost, Culiacan, in 1539, and returned in late summer, 1539, correctly reporting a northern trade center named Cibola (Zuni, New Mexico), with many buffalo skins, turquoises, cotton garments, along with fertile populated valleys in northern Sonora and the westward turn of the Gulf of California coast at its north end, which he placed at 35 degrees latitude. Contrary to popular accounts, his report did not claim gold in Cibola, although he may have claimed this informally. The report gave a reasonably accurate report of the pueblos of Zuni, stating that he approached close enough to see one of the towns in the distance, but feared to enter because of the death of his companion, Estévan, in Cibola.

Marcos' report of Cibola's existence was the prime cause of the Coronado expedition. Marcos led the army back to Cibola the next year (1540) but was branded a liar the next year when Coronado's army found no gold or transportable wealth there. Although he was the first to explore northward and issue a report on what is now the SW United States, he returned to Mexico in disgrace and died some years later in poverty and neglect. Many historians have joined in calling him a liar, claiming he did not have time to reach Cibola and may have been merely a henchman of Mendoza in stirring up interest in a northward expedition of conquest. Other historians, especially recently, have supported Marcos' account and argued that he was telling the truth as he knew it.

Marcos lived near Mexico City in his later years, more or less in disgrace and in poor health. It was said that his poor health was due to his exertions on his two trips to Cibola. We have a sad letter from him in 1546 he petitioning Bishop Zummáraga for a stipend of wine, which was granted, to help him with his "lack of blood and natural heat." He died, taking his secrets with him, in 1558.

Mendoza, Antonio
(ca. 1490 - 1552)

The "good viceroy" of New Spain. Although Cortés conquered the Aztecs and their capital of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) in central Mexico in 1520, he basically destroyed the city to do it, and lost the gold which Moctezuma had amassed for him. Partly for these reasons, the Spanish king appointed a new Viceroy (vice-roi, or vice-king - the king's representative) in Mexico. Mendoza was an able administrator.

Mendoza was engaged in a long term competition with Cortés. Both wanted to seek out and conquer the rumored wealthy cities to the north. Cortés tried to do it by sea in the 1530s, along Mexico's west coast. After Cabeza de Vaca came into Mexico City in 1536 with rumors of northern wealth, Mendoza tried to organize a land expedition in 1537 with a survivor of the Cabeza de Vaca party, Andres Dorantes, but this never materialized. In 1538, Mendoza appointed Coronado governor in the NW and sent him, along with the priest, Marcos de Niza to pacify and explore the NW. Under Mendoza's orders, Marcos proceeded north in 1539 all the way to Cibola, and returned in late summer of that year with a report of the discovery of a prosperous Native American province, the Seven Cities of Cibola (Zuni, New Mexico).

Mendoza then forbid Cortés from exploring further in that direction and appointed Coronado to lead an army to conquer the new province. Mendoza invested heavily in the expedition, being one of its two major backers, along with Coronado's family. Mendoza lost this investment.

Mendoza was eventually promoted to the position of viceroy of Peru in 1551. Though in ill health, he accepted, and died in Lima on July 21, 1552.

(See Honorato)

Zumárraga, Bishop
(1468 - 1547)

Bishop of Mexico City during the time of the Coronado expedition. Zumárraga was humanist pioneer in some ways, starting the first hospitals and printing press in Mexico. He had a copy of Thomas More's Utopia, annotated in his own hand, and apparently had sentiments about ways to accomplish a peaceful Christianization of the Indians and development of Indian communities along Utopian lines. On the other hand, he was ruthless in oppressing any Indian attempts to maintain the old Aztec religious practices, and participated with the Inquisition in putting some Indian leaders to death for following the old ways. Zumárraga was the Bishop of Mexico during the period when the famous vision of the Virgin of Guadalupe was supposed to have occurred, and he was the clergical authority who was supposed to have pronounced it a miracle. However, there is no documentary evidence of this event from that time period, and most scholars believe the story was invented about a century later, to create an icon to whom indigenous peoples could identify.

Coronado Expedition

It began at the Pacific coast village of Compostela on Sunday, February 22, 1540, amidst great fanfare and a parade for Antonio Mendoza—the viceroy, or, vice king, of New Spain the mentor of 30-year-old General Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and the major sponsor of the expedition.

"It was a splendid array as it passed in review before Mendoza" said George Parker Winship in his famed translation The Journey of Coronado 1540-1542. It was a pageant of the conquistadors—the conquerors, with traditions rooted in the centuries-long struggle to drive the Moors from Spain.

"The [well over 200] young cavaliers curbed the picked horses from the large stock farms of the viceroy, each resplendent in long blankets flowing to the ground. Each rider held his lance erect, while his sword and other weapons hung in their proper places at his side.

"Some were arrayed in coats of mail, polished to shine like that of their general. Others wore iron helmets or vizored headpieces of the tough bullhide for which the country has ever been famous. The [several dozen] footmen carried crossbows and harquebuses, while some of them were armed with sword and shield. Looking on was the crowd of [several hundred] native allies in their paint and holiday attire, armed with the club and the bow of an Indian warrior. When all these started off the next morning, in duly ordered companies, with their banners flying, upward of a thousand servants and followers, black men and red men, went with them, leading the spare horses, driving the pack animals, bearing the extra baggage of their masters, or herding the large droves of &lsquobig and little cattle,&rsquo of oxen and cows, sheep, and, maybe, swine, which had been collected by the viceroy to assure fresh food for the army on its march.

There were more than a thousand horses in the train of the force, besides the mules, loaded with camp supplies and provisions, and carrying half a dozen pieces of light artillery—the pedreros, or swivel guns of the period."

Additionally, a few of the conquistadors took their wives and children on the great adventure. Several Franciscan friars and soldiers had already forged on ahead as a vanguard. Hernando Alarcon, commanding three ships – the San Pedro, the Santa Catalina and the San Gabriel – planned a voyage up the Gulf of California to the delta of the Colorado River with the intention of giving logistical support to the army. As the conquistadors and their retinue marched grandly out of Compostela, well organized, well equipped and well supplied, they could not have foreseen what lay ahead.

High Stakes

Fired by the triumphs of earlier conquistadors, the fervor of the Catholic religion, and the siren call of treasure, Coronado viewed his expedition as a mission of conquest. A conquistador born in Salamanca of noble parents, he meant to expand the empire of Spain subjugate new peoples to the crown open up new estates for his country&rsquos noblemen perhaps even find a new sea passage to the Indies, the original destination of Christopher Columbus himself. He meant to win new souls for the Church. Most of all, he meant to find treasure, an obsession which rested on will-o&rsquo-the-wisp rumors of mythical cities and lands laden with gold and silver.

As Herbert Eugene Bolton said in his classic Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains, "Each track made by the explorers on the enormous map of the New World represents some glowing idea, some feverish quest, an effort to run to its source this or that tale of treasure, some rumored city, some wonder in the country beyond."

Coronado knew that his wealthy wife, Dona Beatriz, and his mentor, Mendoza, had drawn heavily on their personal fortunes to fund the expedition. His king (and the Holy Roman Emperor), Carlos V, desperately needed New World wealth to shore up Spain&rsquos national treasury and to fund her European campaigns. Some of his conquistadors, often the reckless young men of noble but impoverished families, had borrowed heavily to pay for personal armor and weaponry. All counted heavily on the success of his expedition. As Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a conquistador and chronicler in Hernan Cortes&rsquo conquest of the Aztecs, had said famously in The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico, "We came here to serve God. And also to get rich."

All the pageantry notwithstanding, Coronado, somewhere in the mystic corners of his mind, may have felt a disturbing sense of foreboding. Years earlier, "a scientific friend of his in Salamanca had told him" in dark prophesy, according to chronicler Pedro de Castaneda, "that he would become a powerful lord in distant lands, and that he would have a fall from which he would never be able to recover."

The Trail to Cibola

Coronado did not lead his army of conquerors across a totally trackless and unknown wilderness. Beginning at Compostela, he would follow the Native American trails of commerce which ran northward from Guadalajara through the Sonoran Desert across Arizona to western New Mexico&rsquos Zuni Pueblos, and then, hopefully, to the Seven Cities of Cibola. From the reports of Cabeza de Vaca, the famous Spanish castaway and first Southwest explorer, Coronado had learned that the Indians of the desert spoke of "lofty mountains to the north, where there were towns of great population and great houses."

These, the Spanish believed, according to Cyclone Covey, who translated Vaca&rsquos Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, could only be "the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, which supposedly had been founded somewhere in the west in the eighth century by seven fugitive bishops." From the word of Friar Marcos de Niza, who was sent north with the black moor, Estebanico, one of Vaca&rsquos fellow castaways, to the Zuni Pueblos by Mendoza expressly to confirm the reports of "towns of great population," Coronado received intelligence that "in seven fair sized settlements. . there is much gold, and that the natives. make it into vessels, and ornaments for the ears, and paletillas with which they scrape themselves to remove the sweat. " At least, that is what Friar Marcos evidently heard and what he duly reported, according to Bolton. (He did not actually dare to actually visit the Zunis, who had killed and dismembered Estebanico.)

From an account by Melchior Diaz, a conquistador sent northward on a reconnaissance by Mendoza, Coronado received a hearsay description of the Zuni Pueblos. It differed markedly from the Friar Marcos report. The general understood, however, that it was too late to turn back, but he had to have some doubt about the stories of Friar Marcos, especially since Diaz was a highly trusted lieutenant.

Coronado, and his sponsor Mendoza, knew, too, that the expedition had been given a sense of urgency by rival explorers. Hernan Cortes, the conquistador who had defeated the Aztecs nearly two decades earlier, had pushed the Spanish frontier north and west, up the Pacific coast, in a quest for additional empires to conquer. "I am informed. " said Cortes in a quote published by Carl Sauer in The Road to Cibola, "there are many provinces well inhabited, where it is believed that there are great riches and that in a certain part thereof is an island inhabited by women. in the manner which in ancient histories is attributed to the Amazons." Purportedly, the Native Americans of the region had reported the "Amazon land to be very rich in pearls and gold," according to Sauer. Nuno de Guzman, another conquistador, had extended the Spanish frontier still farther north, up the coast as far as the state of Sinaloa, seeking the Amazon kingdom, pillaging Indian communities and capturing slaves. Based on stories by a Native American named Tejo, who spoke of trading excursions to seven communities in the north, Guzman had mounted a search, fruitless as it turned out, across the Sierra Madre for the Seven Cities of Cibola.

Coronado and his army, given wing by fables of treasure, marched northward out of Compostela on February 23, 1540.

"We came here to serve God. And also to get rich." The mantra of the conquistador.

According to Sauer, Coronado&rsquos trail to the Zuni Pueblos – the illusory kingdom of seven cities – would lead first from Compostela northward parallel to the Pacific coast for about 300 miles to the Spanish outpost of Culiacan. ". the road is well known and much used," said one of Coronado&rsquos captains, Juan Jaramillo, whose narrative appears in Winship&rsquos translation.

From Culiacan, the trail continued northward along the coast, crossing the Sinaloa, the Fuerte and the Mayo rivers. It reached the Yaqui River somewhere north of Ciudad Obregon, followed the stream northward for some distance, now trending away from the coast. It diverged from the Yaqui near a fork and turned northwest, reaching a village the Spanish called Corazones (or, "Hearts"), which lay somewhere near the modern community of Ures, on the Sonora River, about 400 miles from Culiacan. The name had been conferred on the village by Cabeza de Vaca and his party of refugees after the villagers gave the wandering Spaniards "a present of the hearts of animals and birds to eat," according to Jaramillo. "There is an irrigation stream," he said, "and the country is warm. The dwellings are huts made of a frame of poles, almost like an oven, only very much better, which they cover with mats. They have corn and beans and melons for food. They dress in deerskins.

"There was a poison here [used on arrow points], the effect of which is. the worst that could possibly be found. it is the sap of a small tree. " In a subsequent conflict, they would use the poison, said Jaramillo, to kill "several Christians."

From Corazones, the trail led due north, up the Sonora River, across Sonoran Desert lands, probably to the San Pedro River. It paralleled the San Pedro northward, across the border between Arizona and Sonora, and into the American Southwest, past the community of Benson to the isolated village of Cascabel. "An old Indian trail. is still remembered as leaving for the north about here. " according to Sauer. It threaded through several mountain ranges, striking the Gila River somewhere in the vicinity of Geronimo, Arizona, a distance of about 300 miles from Corazones. Somewhere toward the northern end of this leg lay Chichilticalli, a now lost prehistoric ruin which became a landmark signaling the beginning of the ascent up the Mogollon Rim to the Colorado Plateau. Here, ". the spiky vegetation ceases," said Castaneda. Chichilticalli "was made of colored or reddish earth. The house was large and appeared to have been a fortress. It must have been destroyed by the people of the district. "

Probably the trail followed the White River up the escarpment, crossed the Colorado Plateau plain to the Little Colorado River, and followed a tributary to the Zuni Pueblos, the Seven Cities of Cibola!—a distance of some 200 miles from Chichilticalli.

The Travelers

According to Bolton, Coronado, a "gentleman" of "noble birth," won the appointment to lead the expedition because he knew the northwestern frontier, having served well as the region&rsquos governor. He enjoyed a close friendship with Mendoza and high popularity with the Spanish forces. He had married into the wealthy family of Dona Beatriz. Moreover, he had organized the expedition "he had been the author of it all," said Castaneda.

Beginning the journey north from Compostela, Coronado divided his conquistadors, said Bolton, "into six companies of cavalry, one of artillery and one of infantry," manned almost entirely by the sons of Spain. The exceptions included five soldiers from Portugal, two from Italy, one from France, one from Scotland and one from Germany.

At the start of the journey, Coronado – thanks primarily to Dona Beatriz&rsquo wealth – had a personal staff of servants, groomsmen and a page. He had supplied himself with elaborate armor, a plumed helmet, a coat of mail, two buckskin jackets and "arms of the country." He had nearly two dozen horses for his personal mounts and several sets of horse armor. His captains had similar, though lesser, arrays of armor, horses and weaponry. His horse and foot soldiers received equipment and mounts provided by Mendoza in addition to what they provided for themselves.

Coronado used the Indians, many of them from the Michoacan region, west of Mexico City, as "scouts, sappers, servants, herdsmen, horse wranglers, camp cooks, or in other occupations," said Bolton. Infected by the Spanish fever for treasure and adventure, the Indians had clamored to volunteer for the journey. Many of them brought their wives and children. They came equipped with heavy cotton "armor" and with bows and arrows as well as clubs and lances.

Some of Coronado&rsquos party would add separate chapters to the history of the expedition, for example, Marcos de Niza, the Franciscan friar Melchior Diaz, premier scout and a beloved commander Pedro de Tovar, the expedition&rsquos chief standard bearer Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, a cavalry captain Hernando Alarcon, the supply ships&rsquo captain and Hernando de Alvarado, captain of the artillery.

On the Trail

Coronado led his entire expedition from Compostela to Culiacan, arriving March 28, the day before Easter. With more than 1,000 people and several thousand animals, the column had crawled over the trail, covering the 300-mile first leg in 36 days, an average of just over eight miles per day. Coronado halted his expedition outside of Culiacan, awaiting the village&rsquos completion of Easter rituals. "When the day after Easter came," said Castaneda, "the army started in the morning to go to the town and, as they approached, the inhabitants of the town came out on to an open plain with foot and horse drawn up in ranks as if for a battle. " The inhabitants and Coronado&rsquos soldiers staged a mock battle, with the town being "taken by force of arms. " It was, said Castaneda, "a pleasant demonstration of welcome. "

On April 22, Coronado, with what Sauer called a "light horse party," left Culiacan for Cibola. The general had ordered the ponderous main body of the expedition to wait for two weeks then follow him as far as Corazones, where it was to await further instructions. In correspondence dispatched to Mendoza, Coronado said, ". I and the gentlemen of my company, who were horsemen, carried on our backs and on our horses a little food, in such wise that after leaving this place none of us carried any necessary effects weighing more than a pound. . the road is rough and long, and what with our harquebuses, which had to be carried up the mountains and hills and in the passage of the rivers, the greater part of the corn was lost."

The hard trail, said Coronado, "troubled the soldiers not a little, considering that everything which [Friar Marcos] had said was found to be quite the reverse. . it was so bad that a large number of the animals which Your Lordship sent as provision for the army were lost. The lambs and wethers lost their hoofs. "

By the time Coronado and his party reached Corazones on May 26, 1540, "Ten or twelve horses had died of overwork. " The "black men and red men" who had begun the journey with the expedition at Compostela had begun to die from the hardship. This "was not a slight loss for the rest of the expedition."

Coronado spent several days at Corazones, fretting now about Hernando Alarcon and the resupply ships in the Gulf of California. Indians from the coast reported that they had recently seen the passage of a vessel not far off shore. "I do not know whether to think that it was the one which was sent to discover the country," said Coronado, "or perhaps some Portuguese." He assigned several men to remain at Corazones to establish a base, which would become known as San Hieronimo de los Corazones. He then resumed his march.

Coronado and his party arrived at Chichilticalli, roughly 300 miles from Corazones, sometime in May. Still worried about the resupply ships, he learned from local Indians that "I was fifteen days&rsquo journey distant from the sea, although [Friar Marcos] had said that it was only 5 leagues [a Spanish league equals roughly 2.6 miles] distant and that he had seen it. We all became very distrustful [of Friar Marcos]. " He and his party faced an increasingly grave situation. "I rested for two days at Chichilticale [sic], and there was good reason for staying longer, because we found that the horses were becoming so tired but there was no chance to rest longer, because the food was giving out."

He set out on the 200-mile-long final leg of the trail to Cibola, beginning the ascent of the Mogollon Rim, to the Colorado Plateau. "I entered the borders of the wilderness region on Saint John&rsquos eve," said Coronado, "and. we found no grass during the first days, but a worse way through mountains and more dangerous passages than we had experienced previously. The horses were so tired that they were not equal to it, so in this last desert we lost more horses than before. " Jaramillo said that ". a Spaniard, who was called Espinosa, died, besides two other persons, on account of poisonous plants which they ate, owing to the great need in which they were." Subsequently, the main body of the expedition would find Espinosa&rsquos bones, disinterred and gnawed by predators.

As Coronado and his men drew near Hawikuh, the westernmost of the Zuni villages – at last, the presumed golden Seven Cities of Cibola – the Indians briefly assaulted an advance guard, signaling a hostility possibly born of Guzman&rsquos slave raids among tribes to the south. On July 7, when the village finally drew into sight, said Castaneda, "such were the curses that some [of Coronado&rsquos men] hurled at Friar Marcos that I pray God may protect him from them.

"It is a little, crowded village, looking as if it had been crumpled all up together. " It was not a city laden with gold and silver. "It is a village of about 200 warriors, is three and four stories high, with the houses small and having only a few rooms, and without a courtyard. The people of the whole district had collected here. These folks waited for the army. "

Coronado saw that a fight could not be avoided. He said, "I charged them. . they suddenly took to flight, part running toward the city, which was near and well fortified, and others toward the plain. Some Indians were killed. "

Coronado attacked the village, "As that was where the food was. I ordered the musketeers and crossbowmen to begin the attack and drive back the enemy from the defenses, so that they could not do us any injury. I assaulted the wall on one side, where I was told that there was a scaling ladder and that there was also a gate. But the crossbowmen broke all the strings of their crossbows and the musketeers could do nothing, because they had arrived so weak and feeble that they could scarcely stand on their feet." The villagers fought back ferociously.

Coronado, wearing his gilded armor and crested helmet for the battle, swiftly learned that he had unintentionally made himself the principal target for Zuni weapons. ". they knocked me down to the ground twice with countless great stones which they threw down from above," he said, "and if I had not been protected by the very good headpiece which I wore, I think that the outcome would have been bad for me." Dazed and disabled, Coronado had to be rescued by Captains Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and Hernando de Alvarado. The Spaniards, driven by hunger, continued to press the attack, and ". by the pleasure of God," said Coronado, these Indians surrendered, and their city was taken with the help of Our Lord, and a sufficient supply of corn was found there to relieve our necessities."

Aftermath of Battle

The battle done and bellies filled, Coronado and his fellow conquistadors confronted the reality of their quest for treasure in that mid-summer of 1540. He said, in a dispatch to Mendoza,

". I can assure you than in reality [Friar Marcos] has not told the truth in a single thing that he said, but everything is the reverse of what he said, except the name of the city and the large stone houses.

"The Seven Cities are seven little villages.

". you may be assured that if there had been all the riches and treasures of the world, I could not have done more in His Majesty&rsquos service and in that of Your Lordship than I have done. "

As he recovered from his wounds, Coronado invited the conquered villagers – the citizens of Cibola – to make peace. He implored them to embrace Christianity. He advised them to recognize Spanish sovereignty. He questioned them about the surrounding region, other communities and potential treasure.

Learning about the seven – again, that magical number "7" – Hopi villages, roughly 75 miles north northwest, he dispatched Pedro de Tovar on July 15 to investigate, although without much real hope for treasure. "Our men arrived [at the Hopi village of Kawaiokuh] after nightfall," said Castaneda, "and were able to conceal themselves under the edge of the village, where they heard the natives talking in their houses. " The next morning, when the Hopi villagers discovered the Spanish – reportedly a "very fierce people who travelled on animals which ate people" – the warriors, armed with "bows, and shields, and wooden clubs," prepared for combat. After a brief skirmish, the villagers petitioned for peace, "saying that they had come to give in the submission of the whole province. " They gave Tovar and his soldiers some presents and spoke of a "large river and "people with very large bodies," evidently the Havasupais, to the west. Tovar returned to Cibola to report to Coronado.

Intrigued by Tovar&rsquos report of a great river and large people, Coronado dispatched Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and 25 soldiers to learn whether the stream might lead to the sea and Alarcon&rsquos supply ships. Cardenas re-traced Tovar&rsquos trail to the Hopi villages, where he found a welcoming reception, new supplies and willing guides. Twenty days later, Cardenas reached the "banks of the river," said Castaneda. "It seemed to be more than 3 or 4 leagues in an airline across to the other bank of the stream which flowed between them.

"The country was elevated and full of low twisted pines, very cold, and lying open toward the north. [They] spent three days on this bank looking for a passage down to the river, which looked from above as if the water was 6 feet across, although the Indians said it was half a league wide." Three men, the "lightest and most agile," tried to descend the precipitous walls of the canyon down to the river. "They returned about 4 o&rsquoclock in the afternoon. They said that they had been down about a third of the way and that the river seemed very large from the place which they reached, and that from what they saw they thought the Indians had given the width correctly. Those who stayed above had estimated that some huge rocks on the sides of the cliffs seemed to be about as tall as a man, but those who went down swore that when they reached these rocks they were bigger than the great tower of Seville."

Cardenas and his men had discovered the Grand Canyon.

The Attempt to Reach Alarcon

Meanwhile, in early August, Coronado, his anxieties about provisions mounting, dispatched Melchior Diaz back over the trail to San Hieronimo de los Corazones to take charge of the settlement and to urgently search the upper Gulf of California for Alarcon&rsquos supply vessels. In the same party, he sent couriers with orders to proceed on to Mexico City and report to Mendoza. He saw Friar Marcos leave with the soldiers to return home in disgrace. (". he did not think it was safe for him to stay in Cibola. " said Castaneda.) En route, the party encountered the main body of the expedition moving northward expectantly, anxious to share in the fabled wealth of the Seven Cities of Cibola. The truth came hard, but the expedition moved on. It was now September.

At San Hieronimo de los Corazones, Diaz took command of the settlers while the couriers and Friar Marcos pushed on southward for the capital. Within days, Diaz recruited soldiers and Indian guides to head west, to the upper reaches of the Gulf of California, to search for Alarcon&rsquos ships. According to Bolton, Diaz&rsquos force included some 25 soldiers and several Indians. They drove sheep to serve as a movable commissary. They also took a greyhound dog, which they thought, said Bolton, "might prove to be useful in case of need."

Unknown to Diaz, Alarcon had already sailed the length of the Gulf of California, anchoring his three ships at the mouth of the Colorado River in late August, and he had begun his exploration of the banks and Native American communities of the great stream. Ascending the river by launches, he sought, not only a connection with Coronado&rsquos expedition, according to Bolton, but also his own possible discovery of new empire and treasure, maybe even the Seven Cities of Cibola. As he traveled, he posed as the "Son of the Sun" – a deity or holy man – to win the confidence of the native peoples, who revered the sun. He offered instructions in Christianity. He inquired into the surrounding country and nearby villages. Discovering that the local communities had heard about Coronado&rsquos conquest of Cibola, Alarcon tried, unsuccessfully, to recruit a party from the Indian communities and his own forces to cross Arizona and attempt a rendezvous. Finally, at the juncture of the Colorado and Gila rivers, somewhere near Yuma, Alarcon gave up. He returned downstream to his ships and the voyage home, but not without leaving a message which he hoped Coronado&rsquos men might find. It was now the middle of October.

At approximately the same time, said Bolton, Diaz led his party out of San Hieronimo de los Corazones, heading northwest, probably following the route of the Camino del Diablo – the Road of the Devil – across the fierce lava fields of the lower Sonoran Desert for the head of the Gulf of California and the delta of the lower Colorado River. He struck the river in the vicinity of the Gila junction. From the native peoples, he learned that he had missed making contact with Alarcon by only a matter of days. He followed the riverbank downstream, hoping that he might somehow overtake Alarcon. He arrived at a point near the anchorage of Alarcon&rsquos ships, which had already turned south for the journey home. Remarkably, Diaz discovered Alarcon&rsquos message—words carved into the trunk of a tree:


Anxiously, Diaz dug up the letters, said Castaneda, "and learned from that how long Alarcon had waited for news of the army and that he had gone back with the ships to New Spain, because he was unable to proceed farther. " This meant that Coronado – soon to be joined by his full expedition at Cibola – would receive no replenishment of his supplies from Alarcon.

Diaz led his force back upstream and crossed the river to investigate the desert beyond, hoping to find the Pacific coast in spite of hostile Indians, the harsh landscape and an active lava field. The end of the exploration came unexpectedly. Diaz saw that the greyhound dog, expected "to be useful in case of need," had given chase to several of the party&rsquos sheep. Angrily, Diaz, said Castaneda, "threw his lance at the dog while his horse was running, so that it stuck up in the ground, and not being able to stop his horse he went over the lance so that it nailed him through the thighs and the iron came out behind, rupturing his bladder." The party immediately abandoned the exploration to carry Diaz back to San Hieronimo de los Corazones, but the captain died en route, on January 18, 1541. His men buried him beneath a mound of stones somewhere along the Devil&rsquos Road.

A Time for Decision

Even before Coronado learned of the failure of Alarcon&rsquos supply mission and the tragedy of Diaz, he had begun to think about abandoning the impoverished villages of Cibola and moving to more prosperous pueblos on the Rio Grande. He had received intelligence from the Indians about the eastern pueblos. He had recommendations from reconnaissance parties. His expedition faced a hard winter. And who knows? Treasure – another Aztec or Inca empire – might lie to the east.

In "The Coronado Expedition: Cibola to Grand Quivira and Home," we retrace the great conquistador&rsquos trail eastward across New Mexico, the Llano Estacado and the Kansas plains, and we bid him good bye as he turns for home, a man in anguish, broken by the trail. Additionally, we will cover some of the sites which lie along Coronado&rsquos route.

Watch the video: Americas Voyage of Discovery, The. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 2003