Magazine article Sunset

Spirit of Cibola

Magazine article Sunset

Spirit of Cibola

Article excerpt

Did Francisco Vasquez de Coronado miss the boat? I think he did. In 1540, Coronado and a hungry, weary band of Spanish explorers reached the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico. They were searching for the fabled Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.

What the Spaniards had stumbled upon were the great Pueblo Indian nations of the Rio Grande. Coronado found Indian pueblos made of mud and stone, natives who farmed the fertile fields of the valley, raising corn and squash.

I can imagine Coronado turning to his dusty and tired companions and mumbling, "These are no golden cities. Onward." Onward they moved, searching for Cibola as far east as Kansas, north to Taos, west to the Grand Canyon. What motivated them were the fantasies of the time, legends that painted pictures of fabulous cities.

The expedition was deemed a failure because no gold was found. Looking back we know the Pueblos had something even more important than gold: corn. Later Spanish expeditions arrived and learned to subsist on corn and the bounty of the land.

There was another gift that evolved in Cibola, the spiritual synthesis of two world views. Pueblo Indians and Mediterranean people grew to understand that los santos son las kachinas, las kachinas son los santos. …

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