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CHAPTER V:
THE PIMA REVOLT OF 1751

C. The Spanish Camp at Tubac

As spring approached in 1752, the rebel northern Pimans began to repent their hasty flight from their fertile river bottom fields, and the patience and forbearance of Governor Diego Ortíz Parrilla began to pay off in peace.

The military failure of the rebels had been quite clear to everyone concerned ever since their defeat on the field of Aribaca on January 4 when approximately 2,000 northern Pimans attacked less than one hundred Spaniards only to be repulsed with a loss of forty-three dead (Ewing 1945:273). There remained the problem of negotiating a peace with honor from the Piman point of view, possibly salvaging some of the goals the Indians rebelled for, and a permanent peace with sovereignty from the Spanish point of view. With such ends in mind, Governor Ortíz Parrilla sent Captain Joseph Díaz del Carpio north with yet another expeditionary force in early March. His provisions running short on March 6, Captain Díaz del Carpio decided to encamp at a favorable spot to await events and send to his post for more supplies (Díaz del Carpio Mar. 6-24, 1752:31v). He accordingly went into camp at Tubac on the seventh, and sent a detachment to Terrenate after food.

121Most days passed with only the dull routine of camp life to occupy the troops. Occasionally something happened to liven the monotony, as when three Indians came into camp on the ninth to inquire whether they could safely return to their home at Imuris, a visita of San Ignacio Mission. Captain Díaz del Carpio assured then that they could pass (ibid., f. 32).

On the fourteenth orders arrived from Governor Ortíz Parrilla to dispatch another embassy to Captain-General Luís urging him to surrender. The loyal Indians sent to Luís were instructed to tell him the governor's patience was wearing thin, and any further delay in the mountains by Luís with a force under arms would be taken as evidence that he did not sincerely desire peace, but intended to maintain his rebellion. Luís was to be warned that Captain Díaz del Carpio would not leave the north country until Luís surrendered (ibid., f. 32v-33v).

1. A Captain-General Surrenders

Nothing of note happened for four days after the Indians departed on the fourteenth, but finally on the eighteenth day of March in 1752 the Spanish military encampment at Tubac became the scene of the final sad act in the Pima Revolt.

As Captain Díaz del Carpio (ibid., f. 33v-34) reported wryly to Governor Diego Ortíz Parrilla:

in the evening at sunset said Captain Don Luís 122arrived at this town alone, and having come into my presence, knelt at my feet with much humility and respect and spoke to me in his tongue through the interpreter, all the troops being present.

He said that with the last message which I had sent him, he had decided to surrender, believing with all his heart in the charity with which he was looked upon; and that he asked mercy for the ill which hemay have wrought, but if I were unable to pardon him, he was now rendered to be done with as might be wished....

Thus one brave man walked alone into the enemy camp at Tubac and brought the hopeless Pima Revolt of 1751 to its formal end. Captain-General Luís Oacpicagigua offered himself in sacrifice and atonement for his whole people, endeavoring to spare them the consequences of their all too efficient uprising.

Captain Díaz del Carpio considered Luís to be a man of his word, rebel though he may have been. Díaz gave the defeated Indian leader a good horse and sent him back to the Santa Catalina Mountains on March 19 to talk to his followers who were still hiding and urge them to come down to their rancherías (ibid., f. 34v).

The defeated Indian leader promised to execute this commission within three days, and true to his word returned at ten a.m. on March 22 with his wife and three children. He 123reported to Captain Díaz del Carpio that the Indians in the Catalinas had started for their homes and he himself was ready to be taken before the governor. Therefore, the Spanish commander broke camp and rode south toward San Ignacio that same day (ibid., f. 35).

With his departure from Tubac, the Pima Revolt was to all intents and purposes ended. The recriminations which followed between Jesuits, Indians and civil officials, the endless hearings investigating the causes of the uprising, these were all epilogue. The critical decisions had been made and the nativistic movement of 1751 had dissipated in the cold light of reality.

2. Geopolitical Consequences of Luís's Surrender

The military situation in northern Sonora remained very delicately balanced even after the decisive defeat of the Piman rebels at Aribaca by the Spaniards under Lt. Bernardo de Urrea. The Apache and Seri threats remained very real and pressing, and Governor Diego Ortíz Parrilla could not tie up troops and militia too long on the northern Piman front without yielding ground elsewhere. Moreover, he was only an interim governor subject to relief at any moment, and a new governor probably would institute a new policy.

As night fell on March 18, 1752, one of the turning points of history had been rounded. For on the shoulders of the northern Piman Captain-General rode the course of 124empires beyond his ken. His wise surrender timed as it was insured the success of Governor Ortíz Parrilla's pacification policy. Had Luís Oacpicagigua chosen to try to preserve his own life by staying in the hills, Ortíz Parrilla could not long have maintained his handsoff policy, and the chaffing Spanish hounds of war would have been unleashed to wreck vengeance on the northern Pimans. Had that happened, the history of the farther Southwest would have been materially changed.

The butchery of the Spanish soldiery following the small scale uprising at Tubutama and Caborca in 1695 when only one Spanish Jesuit died would have paled into insignificance beside the massacre of northern Pimans which would have occurred had Ortíz Parrilla been removed on the grounds of the cowardice and stupidity he was accused of by Sonorans, and the race-haughty Spanish cavaliers been released to wield sword and lance among the northern Pimans to exact vengeance for the eightyeight Spaniards whom the Indians had slain in the first days of the revolt.

The bloody drama of the conquest of Tenochtitlan would have been repeated in all the northern Piman rancherías, and the surviving population would have been reduced far faster than even the infectious epidemics which were decimating these Indians could carry them off. In all likelihood, the fighting potential of the northern Pimans would have been utterly destroyed.

125What would then have occurred is easy to predict: the rapacious southern Athapascans would have speedily mopped up the remnants of northern Piman population left by the Spaniards. The Apaches would have moved quickly into the population vacuum created, bringing them to the shores of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California. There they would have linked up with the Yuma Indians who were hostile to the Gila River Pimas (who would by that time have been exterminated) and with the Seris. Such a juncture of tribes hostile to the Spaniards would have soon converted northwestern Sonora into a battle ground no Spanish force could hold longer than it took a column of cavalry to ride past a given point.

The long range effects of such a situation would have been tremendous. The Spanish expeditions overland to California which forestalled a southward Russian advance at a critical time would have been impossible. The Spanish advance from Lower into Upper California would probably have been stopped by its inherent weakness plus depredations by Apaches and Yumas operating west of the Colorado River. Thus, California would have been colonized by Russia.

The difference Russian occupation of California would have made in world affairs is also tremendous. Russian traders probably would have traded firearms and munitions to the Apaches for use against the Spaniards. Had the southern Atha-pascans ever acquired a sure supply of trade goods on their western flank they would have been unstoppable in New Spain. 126Using only such firearms as they could capture in raids, they managed to depopulate a wide strip of northern Sonora in the middle nineteenth century. With an adequate supply of trade guns in the middle seventeenth century, they would have pushed the Spaniards far back toward the City of Mexico.

A Russian California would have had additional repercussions in world politics. The west coast of North America would have been closed to AngloAmericans. The British and United States ventures at the mouth of the Columbia River would not have been tolerated by a Russian Empire maintaining a supply line to California. The gold which would have been discovered eventually would have brought a rush of Russians to California rather than North Americans. This would have insured that the North Pacific became a Russian puddle.

Moreover the Indian situation which would have been created by Russian occupation of California would have effectively shut off the United States from the west coast, and the vaunted "Manifest Destiny" of this nation would have carried it only to the Rocky Mountains at the farther limits of President Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase.

The Russian-armed southern Athapascans would have blocked all the southern approaches to California. American emigrants to the gold fields via the southern route along the Gila River had a hard enough time of it under the conditions which existed in 1849 and later years. Even so, they had the advantage of a base on U. S. territory as close as the Rio 126Grande River in New Mexico, and provisioning stations at the Mexican towns of Santa Cruz and Tucson in northern Sonora and the stalwart Gila River Pimas and Maricopas who produced a large surplus of food for the improvident forty-niners and helpful Yumas at the Colorado Crossing to swim stock across. Had any one of those crutches for limping emigrant trains been lacking, the American emigration would have been seriously hindered and the death toll would have mounted.

Without friendly Indians at the Colorado Crossing, the emigrants would have been stymied-emigration on the road across northern Arizona was in fact not possible until the United States Army pacified the Mohaves who held the Needles Crossing. Without the maize and melons and beans of the Pimas and Maricopas on the Gila River many emigrants would have starved in the Colorado desert even if they crossed the Colorado, and some would have starved on the lower Gila. Without provisions from Tucson, more would have starved, and some would never have made the Gila River before their stock gave out. Without provisions from Santa Cruz, many could never have made Tucson, and so on. With all these places non-existent, civilian emigration across southern Arizona and northern Sonora would have been impossible.

Add to the absence of resting places and provisioning points a large hostile population of well-armed Indians such as the Apaches would have been with Russian trade guns, even U. S. military penetration to California via the southern 128route would have been impossible. Colonel Kearny's command would have left its bones whitening the canyons of the upper Gila River, had it progressed that far. Wellarmed Apaches could have turned back on the New Mexican settlements and taken that province for their own, keeping the United States on the Plains.

Finally, Russian traders would have penetrated the mountain trails into the Rockies, supplying Indians there with desirable goods including firearms. The trade frontier would have developed into a screen of warring tribes as it did everywhere else in North America. So instead of meek pacifists the intermontane Indians who greeted the first American explorers would have been bloodthirsting warriors. The famous Mountain Men would have had much less chance of following the beaver to California and there could have been no sizeable American colony built up there to stage a Bear Flag revolt.

In short, but for the very great selflessness of an obscure northern Piman Indian called Luís Oacpicagigua and the strange-for-a-Spaniard forbearance of Governor Diego Ortíz Parrilla, the United States and Canada west of the Rockies would today probably be an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic with a sizeable Athapascan enclave reading its own ethnic literature developed with the assistance of linguists from the Ethnographic Institute in Moscow. Apache and Navaho delegates would sit in the national Congress of the Communist Party.

129The United States of America would be contained east of the Rocky Mountains if it still existed. The United States of Mexico would be an attenuated banana republic or a Soviet satellite state.

In fact, these nations might not even exist: speculation as to the course of world history in recent times with a Russian Empire in North America and greatly reduced United States and Canadian land areas would be futile beyond the obvious conclusion that the dynamics of world affairs would have been quite different.

Would there have been a Sino-Japanese war had Russia possessed a North Pacific Fleet guarding a North American Empire? Would there have been a Japanese-Russian War? Would there have even been a modern Japanese nation had the United States been cut off from the Pacific Coast?

Presumably the Russian Revolutions would have occurred regardless of North American empire, although it is barely possible that an overseas colony might have absorbed the energy of the dissatisfied Russians. Would a smaller and weaker Canada and United States have been able to swing the balance during World War I? World War II could not even have occurred in the form that it did with no United States empire in the Pacific Ocean.

Certainly Luís Oacpicagigua and Diego Ortíz Parrilla belong high on the list of historical figures who have performed great disservice to the Apache Indians and the Communist Party as heir to the Russian Tsars.

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