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CHAPTER IV:
CHRISTIAN CONVERSION

F. 1. Prelude Theme: Malaise Over Resource Loss

During early Jesuit missionization of the northern Piman Indians Spanish civil settlement within Piman territory began. Although the Pimans were protected from repartimiento by royal edict, their land resources proved an irresistible lure to Spanish capitalists who were able to use Níxora labor in lieu of grants of Piman serfs.

a. Missions. The Jesuit mission establishments were themselves anything but simply one-man shows. They were, in fact, large scale industrial enterprises as well as religious missions, and must have seemed slightly overwhelming to the rustic northern Pimans (Bolton 1939:134, 139). Besides the Jesuit missionary, they included a supervisory staff of Spaniards and imported Indian converts in charge of such diverse activities as church, quarters, and warehouse construction, vineyard, orchard and field crop production, cattle and horse ranching, food processing (drying, salting, fermenting, etc.) and storage-all involving technical 80knowledge and day to day supervision of work crews of Indians who had to be taught these operations from the simplest step to the most complex operation (ibid., p. 141-142).

The mission included not only these large self-sufficient or sufficiency-seeking economic enterprises but also similar operations at some or all of its visitation stations.  Thus Tubaca was a stock ranch and farm for the mission a few miles south at Guebavi farther up the Santa Cruz River.

In their exemption from repartimiento the northern Pimans escaped the worst experiences of forced labor in Spanish private enterprises. As a result the worst working conditions they did experience were those in the mission establishments, and there is excellent evidence that these aroused bitter Piman resentment.

Any industrial enterprise of such size and complexity must necessarily operate on bureaucratic lines of authority and the northern Pimans had never before mission times (or at least not for at least a generation since their abandonment of their large sedentary communal villages) experienced bureaucratic authority. Furthermore the Spaniards in supervisory positions were extremely impatient of Indian resistance to immediate, unquestioning compliance with orders.  This attitude was compounded from many causes: the Spaniards lived in great geographic isolation from their fellow-countrymen among Indians of very alien culture who far outnumbered them-a sufficient source of unease in itself. Moreover the Spaniards viewed themselves, like Christian mission staffs 81everywhere to this day, as engaged on the Lord's work of conversion, and looked upon the Indians as worthless heathens whose only salvation and value lay in conversion to Christianity. And Christianity meant Spanish Christianity: this attitude is ingrained in the very language of Spain where "to speak in Christian" means to speak Spanish! (Treutlein 1949: 4). Like missionaries everywhere and to this day, the Spaniards confused many of their own national customs and ideals with core doctrines of their religion, so the Indians had to learn and practice these or suffer evil consequences. The worst disciplinarians in the missions on this score were the black-robed missionaries themselves. The Holy Office-the infamous Spanish Inquisition-was still in enthusiastic operation. Infidels were still cheerfully committed to rot in dungeons or to roast at the stake by the fanatical legions of God. The Jesuit shock troops on the Indian frontier were neither better nor worse than other priests of their time. They simply accurately represented them.

This rigid, caste and class conscious society whose members used corporal and capital punishment as a matter of course was totally outside the previous experience of the northern Pimans. While they tried wholeheartedly to adjust to it and gain a rewarding place in it during the early mission period, the strains of striving for recognition or even acceptance in a rigid and exclusive social juggernaut proved too much for the loosely-structured personality of the northern 82Pimans, and ultimately contributed heavily to the blow-up in Piman-Spanish relations in the fall of 1751, as Captain-General Luís Oacpicagigua himself testified (Ewing 1945:275).

b. Ranches. Besides the sizeable contingents of Spaniards and acculturated Indians from the south required to operate the mission stations, additional Spaniards settled in northern Piman territory with large work forces of Indian slaves and servants. Although some measure of crown protection was extended to Piman territory in the sense that it was regarded as more or less royal property, it could be colonized and a significant number of wealthy or wealth-seeking Spaniards entered the newly missionized areas to exploit land and water resources there. The economy of the frontier being primarily a rural extractive one, these captains of private enterprise sought primarily recoverable minerals, grasslands for stock ranching and irrigable river bottoms for farming.

The Spanish population center when missionization began among the northern Pimans was located at Santa Ana, actually within northern Piman territory where the Magdalena River bends from its southward course to flow west. This was primarily a ranchers' supply and recreation and social centre.  From there Spaniards advanced northward into the central part of northern Piman territory reinforced by additional Spaniards from the San Miguel River Valley around Opodepe and other Opata Indian settlements which had been integrated 83into the frontier mission system some years previously. The main goals of these Spanish settlers were Aribaca west of Tubac and the San Luís Valley-that loop of the stream known today as the Santa Cruz River which turns south from the Huachuca Mountains through northern Sonora and curves west and finally north to recross the international boundary and flow toward the Gila River past Guebavi, Tubac, Bac, and Tucson. The San Luís Valley was also accessible to Spanish settlement from the old forts at Corodeguachi and Terrenate. It became the primary centre of Spanish population within northern Piman territory prior to 1751.

c. Mines. Recoverable minerals were found in northern Piman country on a grand scale in 1736 (Hammond 1929:237-238). Giant nuggets of pure silver weighing over 5,000 pounds were discovered on the surface at a place christened Planchas de Plata near Arizonac (Ali shon-"Little Spring") just south of the modern international boundary west of Nogales a few miles. This discovery precipitated a large-scale silver rush, and a large mine camp population mushroomed into existence in a few weeks, only to disappear gradually as the silver was quickly located and claimed. By 1741 the initial boom was over (Bancroft 1884:I:527).

From time to time Spanish prospectors found other ore deposits of high enough grade to be profitable even using inefficient Spanish recovery techniques. One of these prospectors whose success undoubtedly played some part in 84persuading the northern Pimans to revolt against the Spaniards was a native of New Mexico named Francisco Padilla (Olguin Feb. 15, 1752). He was the first developer of record of the rich Santa Rita mines (Padilla Feb. 3, 1752:20). He worked the Realito de Santa Rita or small mine at Santa Rita with a crew of at least two, probably Indians from New Mexico, from an unknown date until the outbreak of the revolt.

The use of subject Indian labor within their territory was probably another cause of malaise among the northern Pimans. It is problematical whether they fully understood the socio-political structure of the Spanish mines and ranches operating within their territory. They could, however, see very easily that Spaniards with non-Piman Indians were encroaching upon their tribal lands, seizing springs and flowing streams and throwing cattle onto rich grasslands which furnished the natives with a variety of edible food products.

d. Fort. Available documentation does not clarify entirely whether the northern Piman Indians were afflicted with a Spanish fort in the 1740's or not. Nearly contemporary historians wrote that a fort was founded at Guebavi (Venegas 1759:II:202) but they wrote far removed from the frontier and could have erred on location. Certainly colonial officials intended that the cavalry troop whose patron was San Felipe de Jesús or Gracia Real should be garrisoned at Guebavi. Created at Terrenate in 1741 (Escalante Apr. 22, 1752:90v), the unit was soon called by the Guebavi name, and Kings 85Phelipe V (June 15, 1746) and Fernando VI (July 2, 1747) commissioned commanding officers for the unit so designated as the Company of Guebavi. Its authorized strength was forty-seven enlisted men besides the sergeant, plus the usual three officers- captain, lieutenant and ensign (Venegas 1759:II:203).

The troop in question was certainly stationed close to northern Piman territory at Terrenate, if not for a time at Guebavi. In 1743 Father Ignacio Keller from Suamca Mission baptized a child at the "Fort of St. Matthew" whose godfather was the Terrenate Post Comandant, Captain Joseph Gomez de Silva (Libro de Baptismos de los Pueblos de Santa María...desde 1732, p. 40), but the missionary was visiting and his baptismal record fails to reveal how far he went. The Governor of Sonora received orders in 1744 to abolish a thirty-man unit at Terrenate, but protested and postponed execution of the order with apparent success (Bancroft 1884:I:530), In 1745 the post was referred to under its Guebavi title with a fifty-man complement (ibid., I:531). Thus it remains uncertain whether the garrison was actually located at Terrenate or at Guebavi at this period. The difference in strength mentioned suggests that the troop may have been split with thirty men holding the Terrenate post and an advance party of twenty men encamping at Guebavi among the upper Santa Cruz River Valley Pimans. If troops actually spent a few years at Guebavi during the middle 1740's, their presence served as an additional 86irritant to the hitherto free and easy northern Pimans, making the Spanish threat to their land use more apparent than ever.

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