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chapter 2 Europeans and the Interior World As we crossed the river many more people came to us and there were dances and entertainments after their fashion. . . . All this road was through a veritable champagne of most fertile lands, of most beautiful cornfields very well cultivated with abundant crops of maize, beans, and pumpkins, and with very large dryingplaces for the drying of pumpkins. —Eusebio Francisco Kino, 1701 Alarcón sailed into the interior world, but Eusebio Francisco Kino walked toreachhismomentof“discovery.”1 EmbarkingfromtheSonoranmission 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 villages situated between Sonora and the Colorado River, and they undertook some risk accompanying him. In recent years, increased violence between Gila and Colorado River communities had plagued the interior world as new, hardened political-economic alliances took shape. Also traversing desolate terrain, the route covered a 100-mile parched stretch of land. Missionaries stationed at its eastern terminus called it El Camino del Diablo (“devil’s highway”) due to the path’s lack of grass for grazing Spanish livestock.2 But it also linked Colorado and Gila River farmers and traders. Despite the inherent dangers, potential rewards awaited entrepreneurial travelers. More than 150 years separated Kino’s journey from Alarcón’s, yet trade remained just as vibrant. Kino witnessed the exchange of shell beads, describing a bustling “blue shell conference” comprising over 1,500 traders who trafficked “blue shells from the Pacific Ocean” and delivered speeches.3 His Quechan hosts claimed that most of these shells came from an island in the ocean eight days to the west, a reference to the manufacturing centers of the Channel Islands.4 Kino’s relaciones and map (the first such European image of the interior world) described an Indian world dominated by commerce: a region heavily populated with Indian villages connected by the rivers and roads.5 [54] europeans and the interior world He submitted it to the viceroy in order to entice the architects of the Spanish empire further northwest. The Colorado River, Kino argued, vitally linked Sonora and tierras de la Californias. Extending the Jesuit “rim of Christendom” could only benefit the strategic interests of a New Spain wary of British and French incursions into the Pacific.6 During the eighteenth century, Kino and other Jesuits attempted to tilt this delicate balance toward New Spain. Though they would ultimately fail, the simple demography of the interior world (which can be estimated at 50,000 at figure 12. Eusebio Francisco Kino, “A Passage by Land to California Discover’d by ye. Rev. Fathr. Eusebius Francis Kino, Jesuite between ye Years 1698 & 1701.” Note the strategic position of the Quechans (Yuma) at the confluence of major rivers and the ocean. This map is an English translation. From Henry Jones, The Philosophical Transactions (From the Year 1700, to the Year 1720), vol. 5, part 2 (London, 1731), plate IX, 192. Courtesy of Dorothy Sloan–Rare Books, University of Texas Libraries. europeans and the interior world [55] any given time between 1540 and 1780) only solidified their conviction to reach the “heathens” who lacked the benefits of Spanish Christianity and civilization.7 Yet by Kino’s description, the interior world seemed anything but “savage .” Quechan villages with abundant supplies of food and other goods, cultivated fields, crowded villages, interethnic diversity, shell-bead currency —Kino recorded it all, albeit under the tinted lens of “discovery” that took place amid a period of missionary expansion in Sonora, Baja California, and, by the late eighteenth century, Alta California. Between 1540 and 1781 Jesuits and Franciscans crept into the edges of the interior world, culminating in the establishment of two missions on the Colorado River in 1780 and their destruction at the hands of Quechans just one year later in 1781.8 During this time, other irrevocable marks of Afro-Eurasian influence also spread, including epidemics, horses, and cattle. Equally as dramatic, more coercive, commodified forms of European bondage penetrated Indian captive networks, further tilting the politics, economies, and demographics of the interior world. While Native olivella, baskets, and textiles continued to move across the region during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so too did European animals, diseases, ideas, and slavery saturate networks. This cacophonic mix of commodities and markets thus represented a transformative period within the interior world, one in which Indian communities definitively chose to side with or against Spaniards . One way or the other, these...


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