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CHAPTER VI:
THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. IGNATIUS AT TUBAC

D. 2. Primary Military Mission

Although the founding of the Upper Pimería Company was authorized by the viceroy to meet the Pima rebellion emergency, the military necessity for troops to engage the northern Piman rebels had disappeared by the time the authorization reached Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla. This fact encouraged the northern Sonoran settlers to turn the troop windfall to good account and divert it against the troublesome Apaches. The northern Pimans were unlikely to risk rebelling again for a long time, until the lesson of Aribaca had dimmed in the passing years. Furthermore the partial power vacuum created by the retreat of Spanish arms and concentration of all available troops and militia to stabilize the Spanish withdrawal at San Ignacio Mission invited assault from the avaricious Apaches on the eastern borders of northern Pimería. The northern Pimans probably experienced heavier Apache raiding during their brief period of recovered independence 169than before, and were ready to welcome Spanish assistance against their main enemies again when peace was re-established.

a. Developing Apache Pressure. The date of the arrival of the southern Athapascans in the American Southwest has long been a subject for debate among historians and anthropologists. There is no space in this report to review the question, although it is a critical one in the history of Tubac. All that can be done here is to present some evidence concerning one relatively small area in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley and let its bearing on the larger question speak for itself.

During the 1540's at the end of aboriginal times there was no southern Athapascan threat to the northern Pimans of any significance. Fray Marcos de Niza either did or did not approach the Pueblo of Hawikuh (modern Zuñi), but he did not encounter any hostile southern Athapascans in 1539 (Bandelier 1904:223,230). The great Vásquez de Coronado expedition found no opposition to crossing the area between the San Pedro River and Zuñi (Winship 1896:482, 487, 537). Since these journeys all involved large numbers of people which might scare off a small Apache vanguard, the fact that northern Pimans customarily traveled to Zuñi in pairs at this time is the most significant fact of all (Alarcon 1904:IX:307).  Such small parties would certainly have been attacked by Apaches had any lived in the area!

170Some of the aboriginal trading pattern survived into the next century. The Zuñis called the northern Pimans Cipias and preserved memories of them (Schroeder 1956:106). This was the term New Mexican Franciscans applied to northern Pimans they contacted in 1645 on the Magdalena River in Sonora, whom they also termed Ymiris (ibid., p. 103). The Zuñis slew a Franciscan who attempted to reach the Cipias from their pueblo (Coues 1900:II:375) probably because he violated a Zuñi shrine. At any rate, he was killed by Zuñis and not by southern Athapascans.

In the 1680's the northern Pimans remembered Spaniards coming from New Mexico to trade with then (Bolton 1948:II:257). Even in the early 1700's the northern Pimans remembered western Pueblos from the Hopi villages coming south to trade fairs until the northern Pimans killed some of them one year (Wyllys 1931:139). The trade terminated not because southern Athapascans cut it off, but because the northern Pimans proved untrustworthy trading partners!

The important point about all these trading expeditions between the Pueblo and northern Piman country is that they would have been impossible had the southern Athapascans been present in the area between the Pueblos and the northern Pimans. None of this trade survived into the eighteenth century and attempts to reach the Hopis from northern Sonora were repeatedly stymied by the hostile southern Athapascans. There is no reason to suppose that the Apaches changed 171attitude a round 1700 and shifted from a hitherto peaceful life to bitter warfare-the evidence just cited indicates that they simply had not yet reached the area between Pueblo and northern Piman territory.

The turning point in the Apachean advance southwestward was apparently the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 which furnished the Apache trading partners of the Pueblos with a new abundance of Spanish horses and arms, and the unheard of spectacle of Spaniards going down to bloody and only too human defeat at the hands of mere Indians-and inefficient fighters like the peaceful Pueblos at that! During the power vacuum in New Mexico between the revolt in 1680 and the reconquest in 1692, the southern Athapascans seem to have pushed far southwestward, and arrived at the doors of Sonora.

The Apache threat thus loomed on the northern Piman horizon at the same time that Jesuit missionaries reached them from the south. When Father Kino set up shop at Cosari in 1687 hostile Apache hosts were already just over the horizon. During the 1690's the experienced warriors of the Piman Sobaipuri groups living along the eastern frontiers of northern Pimería handily defeated the first Apache probes (Bolton 1948:I:179-181). The first Athapascans came into Pima borderlands as reinforcements of Jano, Jócome and Suma war parties. These were relatively small Indian groups inhabiting the territory between the New Mexico trail in Chihuahua and the Spanish settlements in Sonora (Wyllys 1931:138 and Bolton 1943:I:181). They may have been Opata in language or they may 172have been Lagunero or a southwestward extension of the very small language groups of Texas. They were almost certainly not Athapascan speaking Indians. They fought their northern Piman enemies in the aboriginal style as late as 1698 (Bolton 1948:I:179-180). That is, they came openly and challenged the Sobaipuris to battle. The Sobaipuris chose ten men to oppose a picked ten composed partly of Jócomes, partly of Janos and partly of Apaches-probably true southern Athapascans. These ten picked men on each side fought and when the Pimans won the enemy broke and with the victors in hot pursuit.  That was apparently the last battle the Apaches fought according to aboriginal Jócome-Jano-Suna rules. Thereafter, the battle conditioned southern Athapascans seem to have taken over direction of even combined war parties, and changed tactics from the aboriginal style of warfare they had been forced to abandon generations earlier in order to survive. After 1698 the Apaches, deprived of their Jano and Jócome and Suma allies, resorted to ambushes, sneak attacks, raids on fields and horse herds, and kidnapping, avoiding frontal assault or defense whenever possible.

Even then the build up of Apache population in the farther Southwest did not pose a serious threat to the Sonoran frontier settlements. The southern Athapascan advance guard was still small and relatively weak. Probably Comanche and other Plains tribe pressure was not as hard during the early decades of the eighteenth century as it became during the latter half when European traders and settlers were shoving the Plains tribes west at a fast clip.

b. Fall From Grace. The Spaniards and northern Pimans enjoyed a period of grace following 1680. The southern Athapascans moved into the hitherto unpopulated territory between the Pueblos and the northern Pimans, and effectively cut off all possibility of resumed trade relations between those Indians and between Sonora and New Mexico by a direct route (Wyllys 1931:139). The occupation and study of this vast new territory absorbed the energies of the southern Athapascans for a period of years, however, and they were too busy, too few, and too little harassed in the rear to bother the Sonoran frontier seriously (ibid., p. 138). Evidence of this state of affairs was the ability of Spaniards to settle in northern Piman territor y in places they later abandoned because of Apache raids. The Upper Santa Cruz River Valley where it loops through Sonora was one such region. Numerous Spaniards settled there during the 1730's and 1740's (Libro de Bautismos, Santos Angeles de Guebavi). This was the principal area of Spanish settlement when the northern Pimans rebelled in 1751 and the northernmost area still held by Spaniards the morning after the revolt (Ewing 1945). When the Pimans returned to peaceful pursuits, the farming and ranching activities in the San Luís Valley or Buena Vista as the area was called at various times, resumed their even tenor, the settlers reassured by the founding of the royal fort at Tubac a short distance to the north (Ortiz Parrilla June 2, 1752:110v). Yet when the Marques de Rubí passed through the valley on his inspection tour in December of 1766, his mapmaker 174noted that the ranches were abandoned and their owners had taken refuge from Apache hostilities in the forts at Terrenate and Tubac (LaFora 1939:216)! Within fifteen years after the Pima Revolt, the Spanish outlying settlements had been abandoned in the face of Apache hostilities. Since children of citizens of the Valley of Buena Vista were being baptized as late as January of 1763 (Santos Angeles de Guebavi, Libro de Bautismos, p. 132), the valley was evidently occupied still at that time unless the priests continued to identify the refugees with their former place of residence, which seems unlikely.

175The net result of the abandonment of the San Luís Valley for Tubac was a slight increase in population from the refugee farmers and ranchers which strengthened the post, but a serious decrease in the amount of provisions produced nearby and a serious increase in geographic isolation. The settled San Luís Valley no longer afforded a pleasant and reassuring break in the long mail couriers' rides to other posts, no longer provided a way station for pack trains loaded with munitions and provisions, no longer provided congenial social life away from the post. Life at Tubac and in the entire upper Santa Cruz River Valley became more urban and more restricted, grimmer and less relaxed, more alert and military but less pleasant. Tubac and the missions at Guebavi and Bac and larger Indian villages became beleaguered outposts and their residents knew it.

c. Turn the Other Flank. As it happened, the Apache hordes hovering over the eastern horizon turned out to be only one of the military problems of the new garrison at Tubac. The Gulf of California flank of Sonora had not been secured as thoroughly as Governor Ortiz Parrilla thought following his sweep through Tiburon Island. Very soon after its foundation the Tubac garrison found itself fighting Seris who not only were not exterminated but had gone over to the offensive! One Seri campaign followed a Seri attack on San Lorenzo pueblo some three miles south of Magdalena in 1757 and at least one Tubac trooper died of wounds received in that December foray (Libro de Entierros de S. M. Magdalena de 1702 p. 54).

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