Frontier Crossroads: Fort Davis and the West

By Robert Wooster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
CROSSROADS OF EMPIRE

On October 20, 1682, seven American Indians appeared at El Paso del Norte (present-day Juárez, Mexico), where Franciscan friars, representing the Spanish empire as well as the Catholic Church, had established a mission two decades earlier. The tiny station had recently taken on increased importance, as a massive Pueblo Indian revolt two years earlier had forced many of the residents of Spanish New Mexico to find succor farther south. Leading the Indian delegation was the magnetic Juan Sabeata, blessed with a flair for diplomacy. As a Jumano Indian, Sabeata belonged to one of the most important—and enigmatic—peoples of the American Southwest. Jumano traders had long disseminated material goods, cultural mores, and information across the vast southwestern plains. But the first waves of a larger and more militaristic people, the Apaches, had recently begun to challenge the lucrative Jumano connections, and for defense the Jumanos needed help.1

Sabeata’s application to Spanish officials was extraordinarily perceptive. He wanted the Europeans to help his people fend off the Apaches but was careful to couch his request in terms that his potential allies might find appealing. Having grasped the interconnected triad of Spanish interests in the New World—spreading Christianity, increasing wealth, and keeping other Europeans out—Sabeata touched all bases. His Jumano kin, based at the junction of the Rios Concho and Grande (La Junta), desired a mission. “There must be more than 10,000 souls who are asking for baptism,” he explained. Not only that, the Jumanos enjoyed alliances with thirty-six other nations that extended far into the eastern plains, including “the great kingdom of the Texas [Tejas]” and “the great kingdom of Quivira,” the legendary Plains site reputed to be rich in gold and silver. As if to ensure that Spain would accept his invitation, he allowed, almost as an afterthought,

-3-

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Frontier Crossroads: Fort Davis and the West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Frontier Crossroads i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One - Crossroads of Empire 3
  • Chapter Two - Agent of Empire 15
  • Chapter Three - Frontier Outpost 30
  • Chapter Four - Implementation of Empire 43
  • Chapter Five - Crisis of Empire 58
  • Chapter Six - Return to the Frontier 70
  • Chapter Seven - Frontier Duties 88
  • Chapter Eight - Frontier Empire 108
  • Chapter Nine - The Close of the Military Frontier 123
  • Epilogue 140
  • Appendix 1 143
  • Appendix 2 144
  • Notes 145
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 201
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