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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dates and Notes Related to Early Spanish Contacts with Native Americans

1501 AD: The Spanish Inquisition intensified again. An argument might be made blaming America Indians for this intensification, at least in part. In case I didn't mention it earlier, the purpose of the Inquisition was to make sure that persons called Christian were good Christians and in now way weakened Christendom. You may remember that the "Conquistadores" were generally accompanied by priests who proposed to save Native souls and to encourage Native peoples to call themselves Christian.

1511: The Toltec Empire of Mexico ended about this date. I have forgotten, for the moment, who to blame, but the Spanish were around as were Toltec and others.

1513: Balboa sighted the Pacific Ocean. Indians showed it to him. I don't think that he believed them when they first told him about that great water. I wonder which Indians did the showing. I think that Indians helped Balboa cross the isthmus where Panama is now. I wonder if those Indians were called Panamanians. Who will tell us more about Balboa and the Indians he contacted.

1515: Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the Florida peninsula. There 'John Lion Belly' was impressed by an Indian queen who ran an impressive queendom. Some of his entourage, without the same appetites as Juan, were impressed by well laid-out real estate developments. The impressive developments included neat and efficient canals used for transportation and communication as well as productive raised gardens and other earthworks. Juan, I understand, was disappointed at not finding immortality and at finding very little gold. I believe that some of his party were pleased to be taking home some nice baskets full of pearls.

1515 - 1582: Marks the lifespan of Saint Teresa of Avila who, for an important part of that span, did a pretty good job, I understand, of keeping the Christian home fires burning.

1519: Cortez invaded the Aztec Empire. A version of this story can be found in your kids school books. As you might guess Cortez was a Spaniard and the Aztec Empire was made up of American Indians. If you ask, your kids might tell you that Hernan Cortez seized control of Mexico from the Aztec Emperor Montezuma. They might not tell you that "Montezuma" is not a very true rendering of that 'emperors' name. While your talking with those kids of your, you might ask them if they know the song that contains as part of its lyrics, "from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." Did they know that 'Mexico,' at that time, referred only to the valley that Mexico City is in today? Were the US Marines with Cortez?

1520: Panfilo de Navaez was sent by Diego Velasquez de Cuellar, governor of Cuba, to force Hernando Cortes into submission to authorities in Spain. He was captured by Cortez. I have hear that his loss to Cortez may have been due in part, to mistaking firefly lights for musket matches of Cortez' troops. I've also hear that diseases among Narvaez troops captured by Cortes spread epidemic death among the Indians of Vera Cruz and beyond.

1526: In about this year there were Spaniards in Zuni villages. They were looking for gold. Spaniards of the time were very much into gold and also pretty serious about adventuring. A few of them were interested in saving souls. At first some Zuni may have considered some Spaniards as a kind of demigod. Later some of them probably agreed that most of the Spaniards were witches.

1531: Pizarro marched on the Inca.

1533: Baja California discovered by Spanish. Indian traders and fishermen saw them. Some say that the sea level was then about 20 feet higher than it is today.

1534: St. Ignatius Loyola found the Jesuit Order. The Spanish Crown and the Vatican charged priests with the care of the souls of the Indians in the New world. Seems their souls were good dead or alive.
The same year the German 'conquistadores' George Hohermuth, Niclaus Federmann, and Philip von Hutton searched for gold and crossed the Colombian and Venezuelan 'Llanos'(plains). If I haven't mentioned the Llanos, I am pretty sure that I have already posted on Federmann.

1536: Mendoza founded Buenos Aires in what is now
Argentina. Many of the Indians there were, in some ways, similar to the plains Indians of North America.

1539: Esteban, of  theFriar Marcos de Niza expedition was killed by inhabitants of "Cibola." Those Spaniards got around. Estevan may have been the first 'black man' killed in the 'Four corners' region of what is now the U.S.

1540: The Colorado River delta was explored by the M. Diaz expedition from the mouth of the river to 20 to 40 miles up the river. I don't remember hearing that they made a lot of friends.

1541: Napo Chi led Mani against the Spanish and won. This isn't the first major battle won by Native American Indians against European invaders, but it is one of the fairly well publicized ones. I heard that it made news in Rome and Madrid. We're talking about Yucatan Maya. Bishop Diego de Landa knew the people of Mani.

1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed under the Spanish flag into what is now known as the Bay of San Pedro, California. I have heard that along the curve of that bay at that time was an Indian settlement called, by some, Pubugna.
In that same year Cabrillo landed on the the Santa Barbara Islands off the California coast. The Chumash saw him. Yes, the same Chumash whose holy men were respected by the great Cahuilla people. Cabrillo was probably a Portuguese hired by Spaniards for his ability as a navigator. Almost for got, Cabrillo and his crew saw Chumash in their fine boats along what is now the coast of Ventura county.

1550 -1580: Indians in the south of Mexico engaged in ongoing violent struggle against the Spaniards entering their lands. It was easier to fight the Spaniards than to fight the diseases of the Spaniards. 

1562: Bishop Diego de Landa helped bring the Inquisition to Mexico. The Bishop and men of Mexico, Madrid, and Rome seemed surprised and concerned by the strong reaction of the Maya to the workings of that institution. Check your history book or on-line for the "auto de fe" of Mani or for Bishop Diego de Landa. The Bishop may get a worse rap than he deserves.

1564: Fray Diego de Landa is recalled to face charges that he had overstepped his authority in the investigation and torture of native 'lords' and 'commoners.' Men of Mexico, Madrid, and Rome feared that Fray Diego would stir Maya to bloody rebellion. Diego brought some of the notes of what would become his "Account of the Affairs of Yucatan" to help in pleading his case before men of the Court and Church.
In this same year Xui Mayas and Spanish defeated other Maya in eastern Yucatan so that they ruled there.

1566: Santa Elena, the sixteenth-century capital of Spanish Florida was founded. It was founded by Pedro Menedez de Aviles on what is now Parris Island off the coast of South Carolina. The Spaniards had found the mainland densely populated by Native Indian peoples.

1571: Inquisition Offices were opened in Mexico. Maybe Fray Diego had convinced powerful Europeans that Indians and others in the New world needed help in keeping Christian.

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