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The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva

The 1540-1542 Route across the Southwest

By Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint

Publication Year: 2000

"Valuable studies of current research and interpretation concerning the possible route of Vasquez de Coronado."—Hispanic American Historical Review

The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva is an engaging record of key research by archaeologists, ethnographers, historians, and geographers concerning the first organized European entrance into what is now the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico. In search of where the expedition went and what peoples it encountered, this volume explores the fertile valleys of Sonora, the basins and ranges of southern Arizona, the Zuni pueblos and the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, and the Llano Estacado of the Texas panhandle. The twenty-one contributors to the volume have pursued some of the most significant lines of research in the field in the last fifty years; their techniques range from documentary analysis and recording traditional stories to detailed examination of the landscape and excavation of campsites and Indian towns. With more confidence than ever before, researchers are closing in on the route of the conquistadors.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xv

In 1539 and 1540 an imposing expedition was mounted in Spanish Mexico. Its objective was to bring into the orbit of Spanish colonial control a prosperous land far to the north. That region (stretching from modern Sonora to modern Kansas) was known to the Spaniards of the day as la Tierra Nueva (the New Land), in reference to its recent emergence...

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pp. 1-21

Studies of the early Spanish period in the New World have become popular in recent years because of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus (1492–1992). It was in the spirit of this Columbus Quincentennial that a number of scholars met at New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, New Mexico, August 21–23, 1992, to discuss Francisco...

Part I: Hypotheses and Evidence

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1. A Historiography of the Route of the Expedition of Francisco V

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pp. 25-29

The route of the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, 1540–1542, had for centuries intrigued colonial officials and explorers as it has perplexed modern-day historians and archeologists. Although historical documentary sources report extensively about the expedition, exact details of the route are few, vague, and sometimes contradictory. Archeological...

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2. The Coronado Documents: Their Limitations

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pp. 30-36

My comments here are an attempt to refocus our current approach in solving the Coronado expedition problem. It is dysfunctional to speak of the Coronado trail any longer; I would rather speak of the Coronado expedition, which is a much more meaningful concept...

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3. Coronado Fought Here: Crossbow Boltheads as Possible Indicators of the 1540–1542 Expedition

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pp. 37-46

Although historic records document the 1540–1542 Coronado expedition across the Southwest and the Great Plains, the search for tangible archeological evidence of the entrada has been frustrating and often fraught with controversy. A number of factors contribute to the tenuous nature of the archeological resources. The expedition was a onetime event...

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4. Armas de la Tierra: The Mexican Indian Component of Coronado Expedition Material Culture

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pp. 47-57

Since 1990, Shirley Cushing Flint and I have been engaged in determining what equipment, utensils, and supplies may have been carried by members of the Coronado expedition. Our goal has been to determine whether archeological remains of the Coronado expedition are likely to be distinguishable from those of other Spanish expeditions of the sixteenth century. Definition of a material culture inventory...

Part II: Precedents, 1538–1539

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5. Pathfinder for Coronado: Reevaluating the Mysterious Journey of Marcos de Niza

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pp. 61-83

A curiosity of Southwest history is that the man who authored the first purposeful account of Arizona/New Mexico exploration and laid claim to the first eyewitness written descriptions of the Zuni pueblos (C

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6. C

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pp. 84-95

The story of the seven rich cities in the north had been bandied about for some time, especially since the days of Beltr

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7. The Search for Coronado’s Contemporary: The Discovery, Excavation, and Interpretation of Hernando de Soto’s First Winter Encampment

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pp. 96-110

Anhaica Apalache, the Indian village that housed the army of Hernando de Soto during the winter of 1539–1540, has long been sought by archeologists and historians researching that ill-fated expedition. As is so often the case in archeology, the actual discovery of this site was a fortuitous accident. Thus, the finding of the site required little effort on our part. Demonstrating the association...

Part III: The Coronado Expedition, Compostela to C

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pp. 111-113

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8. A Historiography of the Route of the Expedition of Francisco V

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pp. 115-123

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...

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9. Francisco Vázquez de Coronado’s Northward Trek Through Sonora

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pp. 124-136

Pertinent place names are a primary concern for historians, archeologists, and others interested in Coronado’s route from Compostela, Mexico, to the Great Bend of the Arkansas River. To find a fixed route has been persistently elusive, but nonetheless, certain fixed place names can be verified and given reliable coordinates. Of course some place names are more difficult to verify...

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10. The Relevance of Ethnology to the Routing of the Coronado Expedition in Sonora

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pp. 137-146

This chapter focuses on the routing of the Coronado expedition in Sonora. As we all are aware, there has been considerable scholarly debate over Coronado’s route, owing to the vagueness of the chronicles with respect to the expedition’s itinerary. At present, there appear to be two principal schools of thought with respect to routing of the Coronado expedition...

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11. An Archeological Perspective on the Sonora Entrada

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pp. 147-157

Archeology has somewhat limited potential in dealing with the Spanish entrada in Sonora. The routes taken by the explorers in their journeys through Sonora are by no means certain and the conquistadors did not remain in one place long enough to make much of an impact of the kind that would leave archeological evidence. Even Coronado’s supply base, the initial location of which was purportedly the town...

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12. The 76 Ranch Ruin and the Location of Chichilticale

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pp. 158-175

The 76 Ranch Ruin, in southeast Arizona, was suggested by Emil Haury and Herbert Bolton as the site of the famous Chichilticale stopover point on the prehistoric trading route from Sonora to C

Part IV: The Coronado Expedition, C

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13. A Historiography of the Route of the Expedition of Francisco V

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pp. 179-186

In late summer of 1540, V

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14. Zuni on the Day the Men in Metal Arrived

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pp. 187-194

The Zuni tradition is an oral tradition. We’re the ones who the intruders wrote about. We are the intrudees who had no voice until a very short while back, until after the Second World War when there was some movement to get Indians like myself, Leigh Jenkins, Al Ortiz, Dave Warren, Bea Medicine, and a whole host of “scholars” involved in Native American studies and Native American programs. And now we’re beginning to make a...

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15. The Geography of Middle Rio Grande Pueblos Revealed by Spanish Explorers, 1540–1598

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pp. 195-208

When Spanish explorers arrived in the American Southwest in the sixteenth century, the greatest concentration of settled farming villages was in the Rio Grande Region. Some ninety-three pueblos were located in an area that stretched south from Taos Pueblo 215 miles along the Rio Grande rift valley, in addition to outlying areas to the east and west. Within the Rio Grande Region the general settlement...

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16. Let the Dust Settle: A Review of the Coronado Campsite in the Tiguex Province

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pp. 209-219

It was Francisco Vázquez de Coronado who led the first European expedition into the American Southwest in 1540. The expedition included at least 350 Spaniards, several hundred Indians, 559 horses, and 1,500 head of livestock (Hammond and Rey 1940). The expedition’s route took the group through Cíbola (Zuni), Acoma, and then on to the Tiguex Province...

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17. The Coronado Expedition: Cic

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pp. 220-232

Between February 1540 and June 1542 an international cavalcade that numbered fifteen hundred people or more traveled, under the leadership of Francisco V

Part V: The Coronado Expedition, R

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18. A Historiography of the Route of the Expedition of Francisco V

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pp. 235-251

Having crossed the bridge, which could have been anything from an actual wooden structure to a low water crossing, the expedition traveled four or five days to where they encountered large herds of buffalo. Bolton concluded they went “eastward across a wide plateau broken by boldly scarped mesas sprinkled with scrub juniper, cactus, and other desert plants”...

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19. Which Barrancas? Narrowing the Possibilities

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pp. 252-266

For the past several years, I have been reviewing the Texas portion of Coronado’s route. It is one of the two least understood segments of the route, the other being the segment from the Mexican border north to the Zuni pueblos. The reason for focusing on Texas is that, if we can resolve this most difficult section, we will have demonstrated the feasibility of tracing the...

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20. The Teya Indians of the Southwestern Plains

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pp. 267-286

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado marched eastward from the Rio Grande Valley in April 1541, to discover what he believed to be the wealthy civilization of Quivira. This supposed land of gold, actually the Wichita region of central Kansas, was described in glowing detail by his chief guide, a man called “Turk” by the Spaniards (Riley 1971: 304–306). Turk was probably a Pawnee Indian and his traveling companion...

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21. “Por alli no ay losa ni se hace,” Gilded Men and Glazed Pottery on the Southern Plains

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pp. 287-303

Somewhere out there on the Llano Estacado lies what may be the mother of all pot breaks, the serendipitous result of a natural disaster, in late April or May of 1541, when a devastating hailstorm struck the Colimalike barranca, or ravine, in Teya country where Vázquez de Coronado’s expedition was encamped, creating havoc on the ground. Pedro de Castañeda wrote...

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22. A Large Canyon Like Those of Colima

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pp. 304-308

In the “Relación de la Jornada de Cíbola,” its author Pedro de Castañeda (1596: 80v–81r), a former resident of Culiacán and member of the expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado of 1540–1542, stated that after four days’ march across the plains, Rodrigo Maldonado reached “una barranca grande como las de colima,” where the entire expedition...

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23. Una Barranca Grande: Recent Archeological Evidence and a Discussion of Its Place in the Coronado Route

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pp. 309-320

During late spring and early summer 1541 the Coronado expedition pursued a course toward Quivira, a presumed wealthy land on the bison plains of North America. The expedition set out from the Tiwa pueblo of Coofor, in the Bernalillo, New Mexico, area, stopped briefly at Cicuique/ Cic

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Concluding Remarks

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pp. 321-322

Pronouncements in the popular and scholarly press notwithstanding, The Coronado Expedition to Tierra Nueva makes it clear that it is all but impossible to say with certainty that any particular event recorded in the sixteenth-century Coronado documents occurred at any specific place locatable on the ground on a modern map. But the book not only reveals our...

References Cited

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pp. 323-344


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pp. 345-348


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pp. 349-364

E-ISBN-13: 9781607321248
E-ISBN-10: 1607321246
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870817663
Print-ISBN-10: 0870815423

Page Count: 364
Illustrations: 30 b&w illustrations, 2 table, 18 maps
Publication Year: 2000