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The Problem %• 1 n 1992, the people of the Americas acknowledged and celebrated Spain's entrada into the New World half a millennium ago. Few remembered that half a century after that event a young crew of Spanish adventurers were dispatched into the heart of the North American continent to locate the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. They penetrated the continent to what is now central Kansas. The trek of these young conquerors amounted to the establishment of a line that would divide history and prehistory. The Coronado expedition of 1540-1542 began when Francisco Vázquez de Coronado left Compostela, Mexico, and headed north toward Culiacán with his troop of 336 Spanish soldiers, plus the wives and children of a few of those soldiers and several hundred Indians. The march to Culiacán was a preparatory shakedown. When the army left Culiacán, 250 of the Spaniards were on horseback, and more than a thousand horses and mules were packed with baggage, arms, provisions, and munitions. There were six companies of cavalry, one of artillery, and one of infantry, and several friars who walked. The expedition marched off northward in February of 1540. The Problem 7 A year and a half later—in June of 1541—Coronado and about thirty of his men reached the Indian kingdom of Quivira. By early August they achieved the northernmost point of their march, the northeasternmost village of Quivira in what is now central Kansas. Coronado had hand-selected this smaller group of men for this side trip. They were mostly in their twenties, Coronado himself was only thirty-one. All were irritated that they had not found the rumored wealth they sought when they finally arrived at Cibola, now the Zuni Reservation in Arizona. They had been enticed off on this second wild goose chase into what is now Kansas by the lies of an Indian slave who wanted to get home to his people, the Harahey, a people who resided in either northeastern Kansas or southeastern Nebraska. The Spaniards called this man the Turk. He had deceived them with one major lie and buttressed it with a series of lies concerning the great wealth of the kingdom of Quivira. Quivira had plenty of people and good land. They were tall people, one stood six feet eight inches. But the houses of Quivira were built of grass and sticks. There was no gold. Even Chief Tatarrax wore only a copper ring on his neck. Coronado finally, reluctantly gave in to the pressure of his angry subordinates. They were allowed to strangle the Turk. Thus young noblemen from some of Europe's finest families were responsible for the first murder of an Indian by whites in Kansas. Frustrated and out of sorts, the Spaniards turned back. The kingdom of Quivira seemed too small and poor to deserve their conquest. Something behind their European eyes prevented their seeing what was before them. The Quivirians 8 Becoming Native to This Place were skilled workers in stone. Their pipes, many carved from Minnesota pipestone, were graceful and finely polished. They were great traders, worked stone not native to their location was present. They were armed with bows and arrows, lances, spears, clubs, tomahawks and slings. The best bows were made of horn. Arrows were made of dogwood and hickory. On the basis of evidence from dwellings and villages that have been excavated, and that from written narratives by those who accompanied Coronado or came into the region later, archaeologists have estimated that "within the confines of Rice County [Kansas] there were well over 25,000 people,"1 or about thirty-five natives per square mile. In 1927, Rice County had just under 15,000 people. In 1980, 11,800. In 1988, 10,800. In 1990, 10,400. Why this huge decline in numbers of people? Were the natives more sophisticated at providing their living than we are? More than 25,000 people are now being supported in cities outside the county by Rice County soils and water, by steel produced in Gary, Indiana, and by fossil fuel. We know that nearly all of the young people who want to stay or who leave but want to return would bring the population to well over 25,000. Why can't they stay or afford to return? A neighbor of mine, Nick Fent, has recently written up the seventy-year history of 240 acres (three contiguous eighties) fifty to sixty miles north of old Quivira. Nick and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813146478
Related ISBN
9780813118468
MARC Record
OCLC
864899638
Pages
136
Launched on MUSE
2014-03-25
Language
English
Open Access
No
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