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Traders and Raiders

The Indigenous World of the Colorado Basin, 1540-1859

Natale A. Zappia

Publication Year: 2014

The Colorado River region looms large in the history of the American West, vitally important in the designs and dreams of Euro-Americans since the first Spanish journey up the river in the sixteenth century. But as Zappia argues in this expansive study, the Colorado River basin must be understood first as home to a complex Indigenous world. Zappia shows how this world pulsated throughout the centuries before and after Spanish contact, solidifying to create an autonomous, interethnic Indigenous space that expanded and adapted to an ever-encroaching global market economy.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-x

This work has benefited from the guidance, suggestions, and encouragement of many individuals. My research began as a graduate student at Claremont Graduate University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, under the guidance of several mentors, including Janet Brodie, Hal...

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Note on Naming People, Geography, and Time Periods

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pp. xi-xiv

This study crosses over several uncertain geographic, linguistic, and cultural boundaries. Place names among diverse peoples change over time and cultures. I have utilized Native markers interchangeably throughout the text while also employing post-Columbian designators such as...

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pp. 1-20

In 1821, millions of subjects became citizens across a vast territory freed from the Spanish empire. In an instant, New Spain transformed into the state of Mexico. Across the country, political leaders from the continent’s largest cities and smallest pueblos grappled with their new national identity...

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Interlude: The Journey of Pook

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pp. 21-24

Polished and strung on a wooden staff, olivella shell beads, called pook by the Mojaves, shimmered against the muddy water of the Colorado River.1 In the hot, oppressive sun, Cocopahs anxiously observed the small ship tacking its way up the river toward their village. While they...

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Chapter 1. Native Histories and the Interior World

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pp. 25-52

By the time Alarcón encountered the Cocopahs on the Colorado River in 1540, Native communities across thousands of square miles had already undergone a century of political-economic reconfigurations that in significant ways converged through the trade networks of the interior world...

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Chapter 2. Europeans and the Interior World

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pp. 53-76

Alarcón sailed into the interior world, but Eusebio Francisco Kino walked to reach his moment of “discovery.”1 Embarking from the Sonoran mission of Tubac on the Gila River, he journeyed west along a road later known as the Maricopa Trail. Kino’s Halyikwamai and Kohuana guides hailed from...

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Interlude: The View from Huwaaly Kwasakyav

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pp. 77-80

During the mild winter of 1810, it was an easy three days to the Cajon Pass. Good rains had come early and provided the horses with more water and grasses for nourishment on the Mojave Trail connecting the Colorado River with the Tongva village of Wa’aachnga.1 After this raid...

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Chapter 3. Trading and Raiding Networks

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pp. 81-98

In 1799, José Cortés, a lieutenant serving under Spain’s Royal Corps of Engineers, completed a report titled “Memorias sobre la provincias del norte de Nueva Espana.”1 This document included information from various missionaries and soldiers familiar with Apachería and the “nations of the...

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Chapter 4. The Expansion of Interregional Raiding

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pp. 99-112

Our journey through the interior world has focused on Indian power emanating in the waters of its geographic center, the Colorado River.1 In 1829, the establishment of the Old Spanish Trail shifted some of this weight away from its shores northward, deeper into the stark terrain where farreaching...

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Interlude: Pascual’s Warning

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pp. 113-114

It did not matter that an elder, the Quechan kwoxot Pascual, foretold death at the hands of the Maricopas. Those who resided on the west side of the Colorado River (the Algodones Quechans) ignored his warnings. The younger leader of this band of Quechans had stronger dreams that promised victory and many Maricopa deaths. In recent...

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Chapter 5. The End of Native Autonomy

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pp. 115-132

Pascual’s warning to his younger Quechan brethren occurred amid great changes across the interior world.1 To the west, Antonio Garra’s defeat all but ended the brief but destructive era of coastal Indigenous raiding. With California statehood and the steady influx of foreigners requiring a consistent...

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Chapter 6. Shifting Strategies within New National Borders

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pp. 133-140

After the debilitating wars of the late 1850s, Natives adopted new survival strategies to cope with the influx of white settlers.1 With the disruption of long-distance interior trading and raiding, Native communities coped through a range of strategies.2 Much has been written about the disastrous...

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Epilogue. The View from the Colorado River, 2013

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pp. 141-144

In the earliest days of the interior world when Kwikumat emerged, symbols acted as fundamental communicative tools for the peoples of the Colorado River. On today’s modern-day Colorado River Indian Reservation, the tribal seal still reflects the convergence of geography, cultures...

Appendix 1. Tables

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pp. 145-155

Appendix 2. List of Missions Relevant to the Interior World

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pp. 156

Appendix 3. Tribal Names

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pp. 157

Appendix 4. Population Figures of Selected Native Communities

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pp. 158


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pp. 159-194


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pp. 195-226


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pp. 227-240

E-ISBN-13: 9781469619842
E-ISBN-10: 1469619849
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469615844
Print-ISBN-10: 1469615843

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 5 halftones, 10 maps, 3 charts, 8 tables
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
  • Indians of North America -- First contact with Europeans -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Indians of North America -- Wars -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Indian traders -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico).
  • Colorado River Valley (Colo.-Mexico) -- History.
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