Explorers, Traders, and Slavers: Forging the Old Spanish Trail, 1678-1850

By Joseph P. Sánchez | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
The Search for the Río del Tizón Rivera's Second Expedition to the Yutas, October 1765

IT WAS AUTUMN 1765 when Governor Tomas Vélez Cachupin ordered Juan María Antonio Rivera to carry out a second expedition to the little- known area he had previously explored in order to determine the location of the large river they had heard about and to see if silver could be found within the environs. Rivera's instructions from the governor prescribed that he find the Payuchis who had offered to lead them to the Río del Tizón and learn about the land and its people. The governor instructed Rivera's party to "incorporate themselves immediately with the Payuchi settlement that had offered to show them the way to the Río del Tizón by winning them over by smoking tobacco with them."66 In particular, Rivera was to learn whether there were large towns in the area, what nations lived along its banks, and the truth of the twice-told tale that flitted throughout Abiquiú that white, bearded men "dressed in a European manner" lived there.

The expedition's members carried trade goods with them in case they met up with other European traders in the area; they would claim to be trading rather than exploring. Should it be safe to do so, Vélez instructed Rivera to let some of his men, accompanied by Payuchis, cross the river and trade. Curiously, Vélez wanted to know whether the Río del Tizón "originates from the Gran Laguna Copala which the Pueblo Indians call Teguayo that they say is where they come from." One other request stood out in the governor's instructions: on his return from the

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