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F. Prelude to Disaster

The conversion period of northern Piman missionization came to a complete and horrible halt on November 21, 1751. On November 20 mission affairs and ranching, farming, and mining under Spanish auspices were proceeding apace in the northern Piman country, and Spaniards there felt that it was a secure frontier and even a rather nice place to live with 78the easy-going, amenable northern Pimans. By the morning of November 21 scores of Spaniards and their Indian slaves and serfslay weltering in their own blood or roasted to death inside incinerated houses where they had been trapped from Caborca to Saric. By the end of November not a single Spaniard remained in all northern Piman territory outside Santa Ana and San Ignacio and the San Luís Valley at the southern margin. The only Yaqui and Níxora serfs and slaves left alive north of those outposts were captives of rebel northern Pimans. Luís Oacpicagigua of Saric, recently named Captain-General of the northern Piman nation for his loyal and very effective services with a Spanish expedition against the hostile Seris on the Gulf of California Coast, was firmly in command of the successful rebels, and massing warriors to resist any Spanish attempt at reconquest. Moreover, rumors spread among the frightened Spanish survivors that Captain-General Luís was preparing to launch his Indian legions to toward either San Ignacio or the fort of Terrenate to throw the Spaniards back even farther. Other rumors said he was planning a diabolical alliance with the Apaches, or the Seris. Spanish reinforcements were days away.

In one week, the Spanish frontier had been thrown back over one hundred miles, and old northern Pimería hands doubted that it could be stabilized there for very long.

A colonial disaster of such magnitude could not have been engineered by a subject people without painstaking preparation and planning. Such groundwork would not have been 79laid without very great motivation on the part of the Indians.  Examination of the motives which drove the northern Pimans to revolt November 21, 1751, reveals the sort of life they led in the Jesuit missions with considerable clarity. Voluminous documents Spanish officials assembled in attempting to assess the responsibility for the rebellion provide exceptionally detailed information on the lives and times of key Indian leaders in the revolt.