Events surrounding Coronado's first contact with the Tiguex people in what's now the Albuquerque area are among the most dramatic in North American history. Clay Mathers, expert in all things Spanish Colonial Archaeology, thinks so and this amateur is inclined to agree with him. Mathers spoke about Coronado and his new book at the Old Albuquerque Library Saturday morning.
For one thing, the 1540 entrada was huge - an estimated 2800 people, maybe more, traveling with 7000 animals at one point. The size of this military expedition alone had big consequences. Natives didn't have a food surplus and were not expecting thousands of guests and their animals. As Mathers puts it, things started badly and stayed that way. .
Tiguex resistance was immediate and long running. The war waged against them was called "savage and without mercy" by a chronicler at the time. That's saying something given the general savage and merciless treatment of other natives that same year, like the Zuni.
Mathers gave an overview of the larger forces at work during the time of Coronado's entrada, like global trade and political positioning. He also notes the impact of native resistance against the Spanish here and other places. Coronado's extended absence from his own home in Mexico, for example, was occasioned by a native uprising. And the Chichimec war stymied Spanish settlement of Northern Mexico for 50 years.
Mathers notes significant long term consequences of the Tiguex War and Coronado's little visit to the Middle Rio Grande. Most notable among them was Don Juan de Oñate's choice to just keep riding when he got here. Seething resentment among the Tiguex was still evident 58 years later and enfluenced his choice for a capital much much further north at San Gabriel.