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A Brief History THREE of the Culture Subarea The Nicaragua and Costa Rica regions of Central America are fortunate in having a substantial amount of ethnohistoric information recorded for them. Squier (1852, 1853), and Lothrop (1926) have compiled the vast majority of conquest records. These are, by far, the best accounting of early conquest and post-conquest information, and no attempt is made here to duplicate all of their important syntheses. A summarization of the data for southwest Nicaragua is in order, however, and is based upon the records of a number of early recorders, among them Oviedo, Benzoni, Cercedo, Motolinia, Andagoya , and Castenada. Unfortunately, not all of the early writers were actual eyewitnesses in Nicaragua like the above. Nevertheless, most of these early recorders, like Martyr, Torquemada, Alcedo, Gomara, and Alonso Ponce were close to the actual events or were actual participants in the conquest, and though not all of the ethnohistoric accounts are identical in every detail, most show an unusual amount of agreement. Early Ethnohistoric Accounts In 1522 Spanish explorer Gil Gonzalez de Avila explored what is today the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, and Pacific Nicaragua. His first encounters were relativelysuccessful in both Indian converts and gold. His conquests were then taken away the following year by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, under orders from Pedrarias, Governor of Panama, from which Gil Gonzalez was financed. After founding the cities of Leon and Granada in 1524, and firmly establishing the Spanish presence in Nicaragua, Hernandez de Cordoba attempted to secure himself as an independent. But in 1526 he was defeated by Pedrarias and executed. Throughout the remainder of the colonial era, Nicaragua was governed as a province of the Captaincy General of Guatemala. However, gold proved to be scarcer than early expectations and the province grew slowly. By the end of the sixteenth century there were only about 500 Spanish colonists living in Nicaragua. 19 20 Archaeology of the Rivas Region, Nicaragua Fig. 5. Map of the major linguistic groups of Nicaragua and adjacent regions (after Stone 1966b:Fig. I). PAYA LENCA PAYA-TAGUACAS (LENCA) ULVA NAHUAT (NICARAO) CHOROTEGA MANGUE MARIBIO TACACHO MATA6ALP* VOTOS (RAMA) MOSOUITOS COROBICI SUERRE HUETARES CABECAR URINAMA QUEPOS BORUCA BRIBRI (VICEfTA) NAHUATL (CHICHIMECA) TERBI(TERRABA) CHANGUENA (OOHA800E) GUAYMI COCLE ARAWAK CUNA PAPARO UNKNOWN TONGUES UNINHABITED At the time of these Spanish incursions into Nicaragua it appears that the Greater Nicoya Archaeological Subarea was primarily occupied by three aboriginal groups: the Mangue, Orotina, and Nicarao (Fig. 5). A fourth group, the Bagaces, occupied a smaller, unidentified portion of Guanacaste, and appear to have been another Nahua-speaking group (like the Nicarao)which established itself at a late date in the prehistory of the area. The Nicarao came to dominate the southwestNicaragua region, which isunder study in this report. As Lothrop (1926:21) pointed out, the Chorotegan linguistic group has a wide geographical distribution. Much of western Nicaragua at the time of the Spanish Entradas spoke Chorotegan, or Mangue, as did groups in southern Honduras and northwest Costa Rica (the Orotina). Interestingly, another sizeable swath of Chorotegan language groups is found in the Mexican states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas. Alonso Ponce, in his Relation (1873), used the word Mangue to describe the language of the Indians found between Subtiaba and Managua. Berendt (1870[?]) noted that the Indians of the region in the late 1800s still called themselves Mangues, a name which Brinton (1883:viii) derived from manakeme, meaning "ruler." EXPLANATION A Brief History of the Culture Subarea 21 Alcedo (in Levy 1873:7) stated that the Mangue fought among themselves shortly before the Spanish arrival. The warfare took place between the Leon Plain group, called the Nagrandans, and the southern or Masaya group, called the Dirians. Major Mangue towns included Masaya, Mombacho, Diriamba, Nandaime, Subtiaba, Nindiri, and Managua, among others (Lothrop 1926:23).* The Orotina, in Costa Rica,occupied the NicoyaPeninsula as far north as the modern Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. A second area of Orotina occupation, on the east coast of the Gulf of Nicoya,knownas Chorotega La Vieja, was apparently conquered shortly after the Spanish Conquest by the Guetar Indians. The name Orotina, according to Lothrop (1926:23), comes from a Spanish corruption of the name of a leading peninsula Indian cacique, Gurutina. The Spanish practice of naming regions after local chieftains was a common one, and Andres de Cerceda (1522), who travelled with Gil Gonzalez on the very first Spanish excursions into Nicoya and Rivas, drew up a lengthy cacique list in...


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