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CHAPTER IV:
CHRISTIAN CONVERSION

55While the life-way of the Indians of Tchoowaka had altered greatly since the coming of the white man in 1520, these aborigines still lived a free and politically independent life until their integration into the Jesuit mission system on the Spanish frontier.

The transition from independence to subjugation was a fairly gradual one, since the missionary approach to Tchoowaka was a time-consuming process and the conversion of the upper Santa Cruz River Valley natives was a cumulative shift rather than an abrupt breaking with the past.

The Christianization of the northern Pimans began in the middle seventeenth century as outlined in the previous chapter, starting with visits of northern Pimans to Jesuit missions among the Opatas. The opening move in Spanish assumption of sovereignty over the northern Pimans was the inauguration of a mission program aimed specifically at converting the northern Pimans. This beginning gambit in the great game of Spanish colonial expansion occurred when Father Eusebio Francisco Kino arrived at a southeastern ranchería of northern Pimans called Bamotze by its Opata-speaking neighbors or Cosari by its own Pimans, on March 13, 1687 (Bolton 1948:I:110).

56Before the mission of Our Lady of Sorrows was even established, Kino went off seeking additional concentrations of northern Pimans large enough to justify more missions (ibid., I:111). So swiftly did the local Jesuit organization move that four more missionary priests were assigned to the northern Piman project in January of 1689. The line of advance was westward across the southern tier of northern Piman settlement along the Magdalena and Altar Rivers. One priest went to the San Ignacio-Magdalena-Tupo area, on the Magdalena River; a second went farther west to the TubutamaOquitoa region of the Altar River, and a third went northwest to the Saric-Tucubabia highlands in the headwaters of those two streams. The fourth priest was assigned to the Cocóspera-San Lazaro-Santa María area north of the San Miguel River head-waters where Kino's visita called Remedios was located (ibid., I:116). Cocóspera lay in the highlands where the drainages divided, and the two visitas were on the northern Santa Cruz River drainage side of the divide which flowed northward past Tchoowaka. By 1699, then, Christian mission outposts of Spanish empire had been set up on the very doorstep of the upper Santa Cruz River Valley settlement complex which included the ranchería called Tchoowaka. Both the Saric and Cocóspera missions aimed at converting northern Pimans inhabiting the settlement complexes adjacent to that in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley. Inevitably the activities of the missionaries there tended to seep northward into the vicinity of Tchoowaka.

57Just two years later direct missionization of the upper Santa Cruz River Valley natives began with a personal visit from Kino and Father Visitor Juan María Salvatierra. Kino did not differentiate Tchoowaka from Tchookum kavolik at that time (ibid., I:119). Another Jesuit was installed at Cocóspera Mission at the end of this tour (ibid., I:120).

In the fall of 1694 another mission was added to the southern tier when Father Francisco Xavier Saeta went to Caborca (ibid., I:131), but the natives terminated his mission with his life on April 2,1695 (ibid., I:141-142) shortly after rebelling at Tubutama and putting the Jesuit there to flight (ibid., I:141). The harsh repressive measures of the frontier soldiery roused the Indians to further retaliation forcing abandonment of the San Ignacio-MagdalenaImuris mission (ibid., I:145). Its missionary administered the Cosari station while Kino went to the City of Mexico seeking reinforcements (ibid., I:161). In the spring of 1697 another missionary arrived to administer the Cocóspera outpost (ibid., I:166) when Kino passed through the upper Santa Cruz River Valley again (ibid., I:165). He traveled past Tchoowaka at the end of November of that year also (ibid., I:174), but the nearest mission at Cocóspera was burned by enemy Indians in February of 1698 and abandoned for a time (ibid., I:176).

This setback did not deter Kino from continuing his personal entries into the north country, and toward the end of October in 1699 he once again passed by Tchoowaka without mentioning it (ibid., I:204), sallying out again in April of 1700 through the upper Santa Cruz River Valley (ibid., I:233-234). Returning in a rush early in May, Kino hardly paused in the upper Santa Cruz Valley (ibid., I:259), and in April of 1701 he did not stop at all on his way back to his mision from explorations on the Colorado River (ibid., I:292).

Missionary reinforcements finally arrived in the north Piman country in 1701, when the Jesuits were able to send a priest to Caborca and Tubutama again, renewing the southern tier of missions. At the same time the Cocóspera highlands were bypassed to send missionaries directly into the Santa Cruz River Valley where Tchoowaka was located. One priest leapfrogged the upper valley to go to St. Francis Xavier at Bac, and the other undertook the conversion of the Indians at Guebavi, Tumacácori and Bacoancos in the upper valley (Bolton 1948:I:303). Father Juan de San Martin of the new Guebavi mission undoubtedly met the natives of Tchoowaka during his conversion attempts in the southern Santa Cruz River Valley. The Spanish frontier reached Tubac in 1701 and direct attempts to further alter the life-ways of the Tchoowaka Indians began.

The first Guebavi mission did not endure, however, for by the beginning of November of that same year Father San Martin had fallen ill and left his post for treatment (ibid., 1:307) when Kino traveled through the valley again headed northwest.

Missionaries were not the only Europeans the upper Santa Cruz River Valley Indians saw in their homeland during this 59period. The southern Athapascans let through the New Mexican barrier by the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 almost a generation earlier were becoming a considerable threat to the eastern marches of the north Piman country by the turn of the century. Spanish army officers were turning from their uneasy attempts to impress northern Pimans for mine labor during the 1600's to eager courting of the north Piman warriors as allies against the new southern Athapascan threat.

In April of 1701 the alcalde mayor-the highest civil official-of Sonora was resting at Guebavi when he wrote to Kino. He led an expedition of soldiery and citizens from the provincial capital at San Juan far to the south, and was happy to see all the warriors coming to visit him at Guebavi carrying scalp-locks. The Spaniards and Pimans were returning from defeating enemy Indians, to the great glee of the Spanish commander (ibid., I:293). The troop commandant had slaughtered some of Kino's livestock for food because he had started out too fast to collect adequate supplies. Since Guebavi and Bacoancos supplied sheep and cattle for the troops and Indian auxiliaries (ibid., I:296), it is clear that the Spanish force had visited the upper Santa Cruz River Valley before going into Apache country. Very likely the Tchoowaka Indians got a good look at Spanish miners and soldiers, and probably many of them joined the expedition. Kino had meanwhile added the reoccupied ranchería at Cocóspera to his own mission (ibid., I:378). Building programs at Cocóspera and Remedios absorbed much of Kino's energy for several years, 60but by April of 1706 he was ready to initiate construction of mission facilities farther north toward Tchoowaka at San Lazaro and Santa María on the Santa Cruz River head-waters (ibid., II:172).

Kino's traveling slacked off during his final years, leaving the upper Santa Cruz River Valley Pimans without much sight of a missionary, as the War of the Spanish Succession absorbed the energies of the central government as well as its funds, preventing the dispatch of new missionaries. After Kino's death in 1711, his fellow pioneer Joseph Agustín de Campos renewed his contacts with the northern natives. Campos had been at the San Ignacio-Magdalena-Imuris mission since 1693 (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygn.o nro P.e de la Pimería en.que tanbiem se ponen los del Pueblo de Sn Joseph de Hímuri) but in contrast to Kino he apparently preferred to carry out a thorough conversion of his own mission Indians before undertaking far-ranging travels. Nor was he the publicist Kino had been. By 1712 he had penetrated as far west as Tubutama (Libro de Entierros de Santa María Magdalena de 1702, p. 16), and in 1715 he went to the Gulf of California with Father Luís Velarde of Cosari (Libro de Entierros deste Pueblo de San Ygnacio...de 1697, f. 10). In 1720 he visited the western settlements to baptize children (Libro de Bautismos del Partido de San Ygnacio de Caburica, p. 3), and in the spring of 1722 he undertook a similar visitation north into the Santa Cruz River Valley, stopping at both Guebavi and Tumacácori (ibid., p, 20-22). Just two years 61later Campos passed through the upper valley again, offering comfort to the Indians during a smallpox epidemic (ibid., p. 44).

It was Father Campos who finally placed the small settlement at Tchoowaka on the pages of history when he stopped there on April 16, 1726, to take a siesta. He noted the place because he was cajoled into baptizing a nursing infant during his rest period (ibid., p. 60).

Since Campos had already been thirty-three years at his mission when he visited Tubac in 1726, his reduced activity in later years is quite understandable. Apparently Tubac remained unvisited by him or any other priest until new Jesuit forces arrived from Europe in 1731.

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