NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


Previous section

Chapter IX. — Coronado's Expedition into the Territory which has Acquired the Name of New Mexico. The Zuni, Moqui, Navajo, and Cognate Tribes.

1541.

THE enthusiasm of all who credited the story of Tezon received a new impulse, and large accessions were made to the number of believers, by the accounts given by Caba de Vaca, of the Indian tribes he had seen during his extraordinary peregrinations, extended through a term of eight or nine years, between the point where he was wrecked, on the Florida coast, and New Gallicia, on the Pacific. Not only did his presence in Spain give origin to the expedition of De Soto, but, at the same time, to the almost equally renowned one organized by Mendoza, the Viceroy of Mexico, and placed under the command of Coronado. This expedition had been preceded by one sent by Guzman, the Governor of New Gallicia, in search of the seven cities of Cibola; but this party penetrated no farther than Culiacan, whence it returned with accounts of the difficulties attending the enterprize. This effort only tended to stimulate the equipment of the more formidable organization of the Viceroy.

As a preliminary step, Mendoza had despatched Marcos de Niza, accompanied by two friars, and Estevan, the African brought to Mexico by De Vaca, to make explorations of the country. On reaching Culiacan, De Niza and his companions rested a few days. Meantime, Estevan pushed forward, crossed the Gila, and entered the valley of Cibola, while De Niza was still sixty leagues behind. The first thing he did at this place, after the caziques assembled, was to demand their gold and their wives. After questioning him as to his authority for making such a demand, having reason to suspect him as a spy of some invading force, they determined to put him to death, which sentence was immediately executed. De Niza, on learning the fate of Estevan, returned to Compostella, and thence to Mexico, where, however, both in his reports, and in an account of his discoveries, which he published, he greatly exaggerated the resources and the value of the country. These statements secured his appointment as the guide for the expedition, to which he devoted all his energies. Mendoza appointed Francisco Vasquez Coronado as commander, who was, at the same time, nominated the successor of Guzman, in the government of New Gallicia. Three hundred men were

-- 70 --

enlisted, of whom an extraordinary large proportion consisted of cavaliers and gentlemen. Mendoza, himself, went as far as Compostello with the troops, where they were joined by 800 Indians, whose duties were to carry baggage, and act as guides, as well as pioneers. It is somewhat remarkable that this expedition set out at the same time that De Soto was traversing the broad plains of Florida, and actually reached the waters of the Rio Gila, when he crossed the Mississippi. Both armies eventually explored portions of the great buffalo plains of Arkansas. Coronado met De Niza at Chiametta, on his return from making reconnoissances. He reported that they had penetrated 200 leagues, as far as Chichiticala, but gave so vague an account, that, between his representations of its being "barren," and a "good" country, Coronado and his army were completely bewildered. On, however, they marched. Reaching Chichiticala, they discovered the ruins of a large house, built of dry clay, surrounded by the remains of a population, which had evident claims to be regarded as belonging to a higher type of civilization than any of the existing tribes. [56] Crossing the Gila, Coronado led his army onward over a desert, until they reached a small stream, by following the valley of which, they soon arrived before the lofty natural walls of Cibola (Old Zuni). On the top of this stood the town, composed of high, terraced buildings, whose first stories could only be reached by movable ladders, the natural defence of semi-civilization against savage incursions. [57] The Indians cultivated corn in the valleys below,
wove coarse stuffs for clothing, manufactured


assaulted the town. The natives rolled down stones, one of which struck Coronado and knocked him down. The place being taken, after an hour's struggle, the troops found provisions, but no gold; and so great did the excitement become against De Niza, for his falsehoods, that he was obliged to flee.

1542.

It is not necessary to enter into a further detail of the incidents attending Coronado's invasion of New Mexico, to denote that he was resisted at every point by the native tribes. He passed one winter in the country, and then returned to New Gallicia, leaving the troops under the command of subordinates. The following year was devoted to an exploration of this territory, extending to the Colorado on the west, and to the Rio Grande on the east. The expedition crossed this stream, passing the head waters of the Pecos, and pursued their route to the buffalo plains of the Arkansas. If De Soto was amused by Indian rumors, which led him from place to place, in Florida, Coronado and his officers were equally misled by reports of towns, cities, and mines, said to exist throughout New Mexico, including the extreme western portions of Texas, and the southwestern part of Louisiana and Arkansas. The country was only conquered while the Spaniards remained. They found no large

-- 71 --

or well-built towns; neither roads, nor bridges, nor elaborate temples; and no mines of the precious metals. Discovering it to be but a barren conquest, difficult of maintenance, and destitute of resources, the Spanish army prepared to abandon it to its original owners, and, after passing their second winter in the high and bleak elevations west of the Rio Grande, they returned to Mexico.

Thus terminated the celebrated expedition of Coronado, by which we first acquired a knowledge of the manners, customs,

[58]

-- 72 --

Previous section


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
Powered by PhiloLogic