New Mexican Traders and Slavers Illegal Trade and the Yuta Country, 1778-1821
ESPECIALLY AFTER the expeditions of 1765 by Rivera and of 1776 by Dominguez and Escalante, New Mexicans turned their attention toward the Yuta country for trade, interest in reaching California was joined by the desire for trade with the Yutas and other tribes in the region, and New Mexicans soon looked to the Great Basin as an outlet for trade. But their hopes for trade there were quickly dashed by Spanish authorities, who, hoping to stabilize relations with the Utes, prohibited New Mexicans from going to the Yuta country. Although the Domínguez- Escalante expedition sought to establish a route to California through the Yuta country, it resulted in creating a greater interest in the possibility of trade in the Great Basin, the farthest point reached by the expedition. In the thirty, years following the Domínguez-Escalante expedition, numerous unofficial trading parties went northwestward from New Mexico to Utah for trade. Still, the danger of making enemies of the Utes that would result in increased Ute raids motivated Spanish officials to continue to outlaw any expeditions into the area without license. Each trading expedition added knowledge about the various valleys through which were forged variants of the Old Spanish Trail, however, until finally after nearly five decades, interest in a direct route to California through southern Utah was revived.
In 1778, Teodoro de Croix, commandant general of the Provincias Internas, issued an order prohibiting trade with the Yutas. Aware of pre-