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  • Feast of Souls: Indians and Spaniards in the Seventeenth-Century Missions of Florida and New Mexico
  • John H. Hann
Feast of Souls: Indians and Spaniards in the Seventeenth-Century Missions of Florida and New Mexico. By Robert C. Galgano. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2005. Pp. xii, 212. $32.50.)

This relatively brief work of 188 pages of text and notes provides a glimpse of the results of the meetings between Indians and Spaniards in those two diverse areas in the seventeenth century. The inspiration that led to this study was its author's conviction that the historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists who have studied the peoples of the two disparate regions over the last half century or so, in studying specific cultures, have missed "the bigger comparative picture that leads to greater insights and reveals new patterns."Galgano also believes that earlier scholars have failed "to explain the dynamic variations of Spanish colonization schemes" and "to see broader designs in the negotiated coexistence between natives and newcomers."

Galgano defined his "pedagogical goal" as "to emphasize the central roles Indians played, and their reactions to Spanish missionization in Florida and New Mexico."He claimed to have designed his work "as an accessible history especially for undergraduate use."In the same vein he also explained:"Though I am most interested in natives' views, the Spanish perspective is equally important."He has succeeded in achieving these latter goals. But he has given relatively little attention to his more ambitious ones of presenting "the bigger comparative picture"and "dynamic variations of Spanish colonization schemes"and "broader designs in the negotiated coexistence."

This book grew out of a paper the author gave at a meeting of graduate students who were attending a summer archaeological field school at the College of William and Mary under the auspices of the Omohundro Institute of American History and Culture and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Professor James Axtell apparently was the director of that field school. For some time since then Galgano has taught at both the College of William and Mary and James Madison University. The author identified himself as a historian. [End Page 347] In the preparation of this work, the author claimed to have done research at both the University of Florida's P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History and at the University of New Mexico's Zimmerman Library. But, the author's cited fonts indicate that his book is based largely on secondary sources or on primary ones that have been published.

In that sense his work is derivative as it is based almost exclusively on the published work of other scholars rather than on unpublished primary sources. However, his "Selected Bibliography," as he termed it, indicates that he did research in the manuscripts of the Jeannette Thurber Connor Papers, the Woodbury Lowery Collection, and the Stetson Collection for the Florida portion of his narrative and in the France Vintor Scholes Collection of the University of New Mexico for the section devoted to that region. But there is scant reflection of that documentary research in his thirty-one pages of "Notes"concerning his sources. In a hasty perusal, I found only one citation from the Stetson Collection and one from the Connor Collection. His inclusion of those manuscript collections in his bibliography appears to be more "window dressing" than a reflection of reality.

Nonetheless, he has done a workmanlike job of extracting information from his sources to present a very readable and enlightening account of the Indians' and Spaniards' seventeenth-century encounters in both Florida and New Mexico. Galgano observes that considerably more is known about Florida's original native peoples because of the wealth of documentation that has survived for it while much of the documentation for New Mexico perished during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680.

Toward the end of his introductory chapter on page 31 Galgano makes a somewhat puzzling observation. In it he notes that, "In the process of re-Christianization Spain became intimately associated with the Christian Church and later the Roman Catholic Church."The period that he was discussing was the Moorish period. Some elaboration seems to have been called for on the nature of the distinction...


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