Captives & Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands

By James F. Brooks | Go to book overview

8
CLOSER AND CLOSER APART

Spring, 1874: Río Chama Valley

Ute headman Ignacio and his band of Weeminuches had allowed the passage of arrieros carting New Mexican produce to the San Juan silver fields since 1868. These seasonal journeys, much like the earlier sheep drives along the Old Spanish Trail, offered opportunities for small-scale bartering in furs and the occasional sale of a Paiute captive. Ute service as scouts in the Navajo wars had also nurtured generally good relations between Weeminuches, Capotes, and New Mexicans. Weeminuches visited their agency at Tierra Amarilla for annuity disbursements of grain, coffee, and sugar, as their Capote cousins did at Abiquiu. The Muache bands held out against settler encroachments at their Cimarron agency on the eastern slope of the Sangre de Cristos and traded a few buffalo robes to the western bands during multiband gatherings at Tierra Amarilla.1

But, in the spring of 1874, Ignacio heard more disturbing news: several New Mexican families were northbound up the Chama with, not trade, but settlement in mind. Gathering a group of warriors, he set out to intercept the pobladores. The amity of the preceding generation seemed on the verge of dissolution.

As the two groups drew within sight, Ignacio rode forward, ahead of his men. A man from among the New Mexican force spurred his horse into a gallop to engage Ignacio. Suddenly, the two men reined up within a few feet of each other and broke into smiles. Speaking Ute fluently, Francisco Manzanares greeted the headman, probably in the language of kinship. Manzanares had been born a Ute, captured by New Mexicans as a boy, and taken into the José

1. James Jefferson, Robert W. Delany, and Gregory Coyne Thompson, The Southern Utes: A Tribal History (Ignacio, Colo., 1972), 29–43.

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