THREE: Trading and Raiding Networks
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chapter 3 Trading and Raiding Networks No exaggeration can convey the aptness of these provinces for the raising and maintaining of all kinds of livestock. It can be shown that without the livestock exported from these provinces to the viceroyalty of Mexico, neither its inhabitants nor its great mining operations could subsist. And if one were to add up all the thefts and damages this industry has suffered from the Indians during their cruelest hostilities, it would seem amazing that they had not finished off the very last ones and that the herds survive. —José Cortés, lieutenant in the Royal Corp of Engineers,   Report on the Northern Provinces of New Spain, 1799 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 Rio Colorado.” “Memorias” described a series of transitions in Indian territoriality , economies, and demographics. While pointing out that since the Quechan uprising of 1781, “we have heard nothing from the nations of the Colorado River, which, because of their distance, cause no harm in the province of Sonora,” many changes were afoot.2 On the edges of the interior world, new Franciscan colonies cut off older trading networks, shrinking Indian domains. Along coastal California, for instance, Mediterranean foodways altered ecologies and increased productivity at the missions. This in turn disrupted older seed and acorn food systems managed by the Yokuts, Chumash, and Kumeyaays.3 Alongside Franciscan expansion, a new, more streamlined colonial regime attempted to better regulate northwestern New Spain in the wake of the Bourbon Reforms.4 In other Indian territories, Apache, Yokuts, Mojave, Ute, Kumeyaay, and Cahuilla boundaries expanded to seize back earlier gains made by the Spanish frontier. Some Indigenous raiders took advantage of the vacuum in Spanish power by redrawing Indian-defined economic exchanges: a shift from trading to raiding. [82]  trading and raiding networks The aftermath of the Quechan uprising coincided with increasing foment in other parts of the Spanish colonial world, where Indigenous uprisings , creole discontent, and imperial rivals threatened the hegemony of a weakened Spanish empire. Scientifically minded subjects like Cortés surveyed vast stretches of the edges of empire during this age of Enlightenment in order to better assess the economic and political capabilities of Indian territories.5 Irrevocable changes already loomed on the horizon, though. After the Spanish expulsion of the Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans assumed control of existing missions in Las Californias and Sonora , creating a new chain along the coast. But within a few short decades, a national project advanced by an independent Mexican state once again reconfigured Spanish priorities after 1821. Natives experienced these changes unevenly. Some benefited from citizenship. Others felt little political change. For those within the interior world, Indian livestock raiding became one of the primary methods of economic exchange, more important than any industry sanctioned by colonial officials. Nativeshadraisedhorsesforatleast100years,butbytheendoftheeighteenth century, an irreversible shift toward equestrian culture transfixed Indian identities. As Cortés observed, Indigenous raiding swept across Apachería, Dinetah, Ute territory, and even the Comanchería. Linked by livestock and territory, raiding complemented shifting economic winds that shaped colonial New Mexico, Sonora, and the Californias. At the end of the eighteenth century, though, maturing colonies also taxed other Indian communities. Santa Fe obrajes, for instance, demanded more laborers and increased the output of cotton and wool textiles. Sonoran mines also demanded more workers and more livestock to feed them.6 And Alta Californian ranchos required Indian vaqueros. As in the previous century, these shifting markets drove the demand for captive labor. By the mid-eighteenth century, though, livestock added a new dimension to the economic equation.7 Feral and domesticated herds of horses, sheep, and cattle required expanded pastures for grazing, further encroaching on Native foodscapes. Spaniards, who saw fire suppression as paramount to their survival, suppressed widespread pyrogenic land-use strategiesdirectlythroughmilitaryconfrontationorinadvertentlythrough the introduction of foreign diseases, further altering vegetation and erosionpatterns .8 InSonoraandtheCalifornias,Nativesquicklyrespondedby stealing and killing livestock that disrupted local food sources.9 Fire suppression ushered in the shift to Indigenous raiding, creating new paths to trading and raiding networks  [83] wealth. In many ways, then, the Provincias Internas and the interior world developed more intricate connections, from environmental (overgrazing, erosion, water depletion, meat sources), to political (the end of colonial rule), to economic (Indian, mission, and secular reliance on...



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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