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ribbon, religious relics, rosaries, crosses, medals, bells, beads,
necklaces, elk skin for shoes, some caps, false pearls, garnets,
sugar, hoes, tobacco, and other items. With the preliminaries
ended, the missionary preached to the multitude. Then the
several Spaniards present advanced with a child in arm to be
baptized. The ceremonies lasted until sunset, when eighty-one
children had received the Holy rites. The next day nineteen
more children were baptized, making a grand total of 100.

The religious service was followed by civil proceedings,
since these people were of interest to both the church and
state. The two prominent Navahos present were given a baton
in token of their leadership. They were then advised that at a
future date they should visit the Governor in Santa Fe for
official confirmation of their political status. In this fashion
the Spanish began the policy of trying to instill into the minds
of the Navahos some understanding of political unity and
responsibility of leadership as understand and practised by
the white men.

All the Navaho people in the Cebolleta region were not


present on this occasion. Winter snow, the scattered nature
of their way of life, and a touch of measles prevented a grand
assembly. 25 Nor did the ceremonies mean that a permanent
mission had been established, and least of all a pueblo. But a
site for a mission church was selected. It was probably near
the mouth of Cebolleta Canyon, the location of the present-
day village of Cebolleta. The Navahos lived on top of Cebolleta
Mountain and in the adjacent canyons. The distances given
by contemporaries of six to seven leagues from Laguna to the
Cebolleta mission is approximately the distance today from
Laguna to the village. It may be that some of those present
were migrants from the north.

The Franciscans were still thinking in terms of four mis-
sions in the Navaho country, but that was coming to be an
impossibility. Four missionaries had been approved and their
stipends provided, but the physical difficulties in the under-
taking and the Indian way of life worked against success.

The Presidio at Santa Fe had been reduced from a comple-
ment of 100 men to eighty some years before. The drought
and border warfare had reduced their effectiveness in pro-
tecting far-distant missions, and the Governor thought of the
Province of Navaho as being ninety or so leagues distant from
Santa Fe. This was an over-estimate, but at the best the pro-
tection of missions on the Rio San Juan, where they were
originally planned, no doubt would have created a military
problem, despite an earlier judgment to the contrary. 26

Further reasons advanced for abandoning the northern
mission field was the normal scarcity of water and the limited
acreage for irrigation. This may have been the rationalization
of a faint heart, although the Franciscans had revealed very
little of that attitude in general. Fray Juan Miguel and his
associates had actually visited the valley of the Rio San Juan,
but I suspect that it was the upper stretch where irrigation
was less practicable; so in abandoning the northern field,
Fray Juan was thinking in terms of the narrow canyons in

25. B. N. M., leg. 8 (pt. 1, doc. 35, N. M. A.). Varo, Report, January, 1749. B. N. M.,
leg. 8 (pt. 2, doc. 57, pp. 3, 9, N. M. A.).

26. Phelipe Romero, Declaration, Mexico, November 12, 1745. A. G. I., Mexico 89-2-17
(A. C.). He was of the opinion that a detachment of fifteen men and the Navajos them-
selves could ward off Ute enemies.

1720'S TO 1770's 23

the Province of Navaho where land and water were distinctly
at a premium. 26 * 1

Accepting the realities of the situation, Fray Juan Miguel
recommended that the missions proposed for the Province of
Navaho be abandoned and that locations for them be selected
in the Cebolleta country where mission work had actually
been started, and even a site selected for one church at
Cebolleta. Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin (1749-1754) ap-
proved the proposal in May, 1749, and the following October
the change was approved by the Viceroy, but only for two
missions 27 rather than the long dreamed of four.

Fray Juan Miguel had made another trip to Moqui in
order to bring more of those people to the valley of the Rio
Grande. The results were very disappointing. In a subsequent
hearing on the matter, witnesses testified that the expedition
had not touched at Cebolleta for reasons not known to them.
But that is aside the point. Most of them agreed that the
Navahos of Cebolleta wanted a mission, and that the location
was suitable for two. This was the revised project that the
Viceroy approved. 28

The visit to the Governor at Santa Fe that had been stipu-
lated at the time of the conversion rites at Cebolleta was
carried out by some Navaho leaders in September of 1749.
They were evasive when questioned about settling down at a
mission site in the Cebolleta area. The Governor finally stated
that he would wait until their crop of maiz was harvested,
then he would visit them with the missionaries. He was as
good as his word. The Governor, Fray Juan Miguel, Fray
Juan Sanz de Lezaun, Fray Manuel Bermejo, and the Navaho
Captain Don Fernando Orcasitas, who probably served as

26a. In the Nineteenth century the Navajos took possession of the San Juan valley
below the old mountainous region where they had been more secure from Ute attacks
by living on the mesa tops. "The crop was raised upon one of the bottom holes along the
San Juan, cultivated without irrigation, watered only during a high stage of the river.
The corn tassels were of the height of a rider's head upon horseback." Lieut. C. A. H.
McCauley, Report of the San Jiian Reconnaissance of 1877. 45 cong., 3 sess., hse. ex. doc.
1, pt. 2, p. 1768 [1846].

27. Cachupin, Order, May 4, 1749. B. N. M., leg. 8 (pt. 2, doc. 61, N. M. A.). State-
ment of Don Juan Francisco de Guemmes y Horcasitas, October 18, 1749. Note 23 above.
Fray Carlos Delgado had been confident in 1745 that missions could be established in the
meadows (vegas) along the Rio San Juan. Testimony of May 12, 1745. A. G. I., Mexico
89-2-17 (A. C.).

28. Ibid.


interpreter, arrived at a site named Encinal on October 20
(possibly the 21st) where some Navahos were living. These
were probably migrants too. The location was a short distance
north and west of Laguna. The Indians gave the visitors a
friendly reception as usual but bargained over the proposi-
tion that they should adopt a settled way of life with a mission
in their midst.

Two points seemed to be important to the Indians. First,
they wanted protection against enemies. They no doubt had
the Utes in mind. Second, they requested the Governor to act
as Godfather for their children as he had done on a previous
occasion for other Indian children. The Governor agreed to
both proposals. With this understanding they agreed to ac-
cept Fray Juan Sanz as their resident missionary and built a
brush shelter for him, finishing the job in one day. Even the
Governor and the soldiers pitched in and worked on the task.

This otherwise pleasant scene was marred by an argument
that occurred between Fray Manuel and Fray Juan Miguel
over jurisdiction and their respective ecclesiastical status in
the baptismal rites performed for the Indian children. When
Fray Juan Sanz baptized a child he used the phrase, "cum
venia Parrochi." Fray Juan Miguel objected to this, claiming
that Fray Juan Sanz was no more parroco at Encinal than
Fray Juan Miguel himself; in fact, the latter claimed that
he was parroco there. Fray Manuel argued to the contrary,
claiming that both he and Fray Juan Sanz had priority be-
cause they had been elected by the Legitimate Prelate. But
they did not push the matter to a conclusion, nor did they
engage in any outburst of temper because Indians were com-
ing and going in the Governor's tent at the time, and they did
not wish to disrupt the useful work which they were both
anxious to conclude after so many months if not years of

The issue of course involved the question of whether a
resident mission friar should have the privilege and responsi-
bility of baptizing members of his flock, or whether a visiting
missionary enjoyed equal right, or in the case of a new mis-
sion, prior right. Fray Juan Miguel claimed to be parroco for
the founding of the mission, but Fray Manuel argued that

1720'S TO 1770's 25

Fray Juan Sanz, selected as the resident missionary, had the
status of parr o co from the the moment of his appointment to
the Encinal mission.

Despite the argument over procedure, the baptismal rites
were completed for the time being 1 . Sixteen children were
inducted into the Church with the Governor acting as God-
father. Fray Manuel was a bit skeptical about the proceed-
ings, implying that these youngsters had been baptized on a
previous visit from the missionaries and that their sole inter-
est in repeating the ceremony was the lure of gifts from the
white man. 29

Moving northward to the site of Cebolleta, where they had
previously labored, the good work was continued on the 25th.
The argument about jurisdiction also continued, with a new
issue being injected. In the first place, Fray Juan Miguel tried
to clear the air about jurisdiction with the assistance of the
Indians. He asked them whether or not he was their only
padre and had preached to them on a previous occasion. They
replied in the affirmative. Fray Manuel refused to be con-
vinced. He was fearful that the Indians had been imposed
upon. Furthermore he was of the opinion that Fray Carlos
Delgado, Fray Jose Yrigoyen and Fray Pedro Ygnacio del
Pino had come among these neophytes first. Fray Manuel's
opinion implies that the Navahos at Cebolleta, among whom
the missionaries were now laboring, were migrants from the
north, since Fray Carlos Delgado had done his work in the
Province of Navaho and not at Cebolleta Mountain. Fray
Juan Miguel had been the pioneer preacher in the Cebolleta
field, although he had also labored in the northern field. If
these pagans acknowledged correctly that he was the first to
come among them, the conclusion would be that they were
the Cebolleta Mountain Navahos.

Another argument arose over the name of the new mis-
sion. Fray Juan Miguel wanted to name it La Concepcion and
St. Anthony. Fray Manuel favored San Pedro Regalado on the
ground that the Custodia already had several missions named

29. Fray Manuel Bermejo to Joseph Jimeno, Santa Fe, November 13, 1749. B. N. M.,
leg. 8 (pt. 2, doc. 55, N. M. A.). Bermejo to Custodio Fray Andre Varo, Santa Fe,
November 11, 1749. Ibid.


for the Holy Mother and for St. Anthony, and as resident
missionary he claimed the right to decide. Just when this
issue was settled is not clear. Meanwhile the Indians were
holding out against the initial proposal of their visitors.

The Navahos claimed that if they consented to settle under
the auspices of a resident missionary, they would be pre-
vented from hunting as was customary ; they also feared that
they could not learn the doctrine of the Church, and that they
would be punished for their shortcomings. Fray Manuel as-
sured them that they could hunt at will, that they could have
a month, or three months, or a year or more to learn the
doctrine, and that he would not punish them ; in fact, he would
not even scold them for failure. On the contrary, he would
teach them with patience and a generous measure of love and

To the pagan mind the offerings of the whiteman were
not crystal clear, but they did go through the form of wel-
coming a new way of life. They accepted their appointed
missionary, Fray Manuel, and gave him a shelter for a house
until a church and friary could be built. As immediate evi-
dence of success, sixteen children were baptized by Fray Juan
Miguel. Then the resident missionaries carried on the work.

Fray Juan Sanz labored for nearly five months at the
Encinal mission, catechising the Indians, and Fray Manuel
did likewise at Cebolleta. They lived under primitive condi-
tions, supporting the venture largely from their own pockets.
To say or hear mass they were forced to travel the six or seven
leagues to Laguna Pueblo. Their pleas for material aid finally
brought a little maiz, some sheep and one-half pound of in-
digo, all for Fray Manuel. His colleague received nothing.

The Governor profited from the mission venture whether
or not the Indians were becoming Christians. The mission-
aries complained that he carried on trade in skins and baskets
with the Alcalde of Zia, Don Carlos de Bustamente, acting
as agent. Since the business was legal, there was nothing that
they could do about it. 30

30. Bennejo-Lezaun, Report, October 29, 1750. B. N. M., leg. 8 (pt. 3, doc. 67,
N. M. A.).

1720'S TO 1770'S 27

The Indians at Encinal were practical enough to recognize
the need for water in tilling the soil. Their supply was inade-
quate, so they petitioned to be removed to a better site at the
spring of Cubero. This meant possible encroachment on the
lands of Acoma, so the Governor thought it advisable to make
an investigation before any change was carried out. Fray
Manuel San Juan Nepomuceno y Trigo was asked to under-
take the task in company with Don Bernardo Antonio de
Bustamente, Lieutenant General.

On April 16, at Laguna Pueblo, Don Bernardo presented
a letter to Fray Manuel San Juan from the Governor with
information that the Indians at Encinal and Cebolleta mis-
sions had driven out the resident missionaries. Fray Manuel
was asked to investigate this new development. He did so
with all the formality of an official investigation. 31

The hearings were held at Acoma in April. Witnesses to
the initial meetings with the Navahos, when the mission work
was started with resident missionaries, were very positive
in their testimony. In reply to the words of Fray Juan Miguel
Menchero offering certain inducements for a settled and
Christian way of life, "They [the Indians] replied that they
did not want pueblos now nor did they desire to be Christians,
nor had they ever asked for the fathers ; and that what they
had all said in the beginning to the reverend father commis-
sary, Fray Miguel Menchero, was that they were grown up,
and could not become Christians or stay in one place because
they had been raised like deer. . . ," 32 They were willing to
have their children baptized, and to remain at peace and
friendship with the Spanish. Maybe later on the children
would accept the new way of life.

Don Pedro Romero, Lieutenant of Acoma and Laguna,
stated: "They themselves knew nothing and for what was
given to them they handed over their children to have their

31. Cachupin to Nepomuceno y Trigo, Santa Fe, March 24, 1750. B. N. M., leg. 8
(pt. 2, doc. 66, N. M. A.). The same letter can be found in Historia 25, f341v (pt. 3,
N. M. A.). And in Hackett, Historical Documents, 3:424. Nepomuceno y Trigo to
Bustamente y Tagle, n. d., Historia 25, f342v (pt. 3, N. M. A.). Hackett, op. cit., 3:432.

32. Testimony of Capt. Don Fernando Ruyamor, Alcalde Mayor of Acoma and
Laguna. Acoma, April 18, 1750. Hackett, op. cit., 3 :433-34. The Spanish version is in
Historia 25, f344 (pt. 3, N. M. A.).


heads washed with the water of baptism, and for no other
reason." And he pointed out that Fray Juan Miguel had been
generous with presents whereas the resident missionaries had
little to give them. This materialistic view of the Navahos was
supported by the interpreter. "I know all these people well
[he said], for they are my people and my relatives, and I say
that neither now nor ever will they be Christians. They may
say yes in order to get what is offered them, but afterwards
they say no." 33

Another factor at work in causing failure in this mission
field, according to some of the Franciscans, was the bad exam-
ple set before the Navahos in the Spanish-Pueblo Indian rela-
tions. In an effort to get the Navaho mission on a firm founda-
tion in short order, the Governor had drawn upon Laguna
Pueblo Indians to build a church at Cebolleta, and those of
Acoma to work at Encinal. This first-hand glimpse of forced
labor did not please the Navahos. They saw in it the reflection
of their own future. And in other ways they came to realize
that all was not perfect in the Pueblo-Spanish relations. As
Fray Juan Sanz recorded : "The heathen Navahos are con-
tinually coming into and going out of the pueblos, and they
see iniquities and hear the clamors of the Christian Indians.
There had been hopes for the conversion of the Navahos, but
after having observed all this oppression, no matter how
much they are preached to they will be unwilling to be
reduced. . . ," 34

A deeper reason, and one not clear to the eighteenth cen-
tury missionary, was the wide gulf that lay between Christian
concepts and the ingrained beliefs of the Navaho people. To
the latter, as a contemporary student has phrased it, "Fear of
the dead, the 'ghost,' amounts to a tribal phobia; it is the
most universal of all reactions. Christianity gives the Navaho

83. Ibid. This rational for Indian behavior was not peculiar to civil officials. The
Father Provincial, writing in March of 1750, attributed the delay in establishment of
these missions to the fickleness of the Indians "who promised to be congregated and
have not complied, and the cause may have been the total lack of supplies." B. N. M.,
leg. 8 (pt. 3, doc. 70, N. M. A.).

84. Lezaun, Report, November 4, 1760. Hackett, Historical Documents, 3 :474 ; His-
toria 25, f41 (pt. 1, N. M. A.). See also the Bermejo-Lezaun Report of October 29, 1750.
B. N. M., leg. 8 (pt. 3, doc. 67, N. M. A.).

1720'S TO 1770'S 29

as its divine hero a man become god because he is risen from
the dead." 35

The rejection of the missionaries did not mean the end
of Navaho-Spanish relations. But the hope of settling them
in a pueblo with a resident religious slowly faded from the
Spanish mind. The church ornaments for the proposed mis-
sions were stored in care of the "Syndic of the missions." In
the course of time some were given to the missions at Sandia
Pueblo and the settlement at Abiquiu. Finally, in 1783, the
remainder were distributed. 36

Meanwhile, the basic relation between the two people
shifted from a religious to a territorial problem. Spanish
settlers slowly penetrated the valley of the Rio Puerco of the
East and the Cebolleta area in mid-eighteenth century. In
short, the immediate furor over the expulsion of the Fran-
ciscans had scarcely died down when the first Spanish land
grant was made in the valley of the Rio Puerco.

The population of New Mexico increased very slowly in
the eighteenth century, but sufficient pressure developed
within the narrow confines of the Rio Grande Valley to
force frontier expansion. The first movement into the valley
of the Rio Puerco occurred in the 1750's. The five sons of
Jose Montano, unable to make a living from their few acres
in the Albuquerque district, were "obliged to go out, among
the nearest Indian Pueblos, to work for them, sometimes
weeding their fields, sometimes bringing firewood from the

35. Gladys A. Reichard, "The Navajo and Christianity," American Anthropologist,
n. s., 51:67 (January-March, 1949).

The Ghost Dance movement of 1890 among Western Indians was rejected by the
Navaho: "For the Navaho with his almost psychotic fear of death, the dead and all
connected with them, no greater cataclysm than the return of the departed or ghosts
could be envisaged. In short, the Navaho were frightened out of their wits for fear the
tenets of the movement were true." W. W. Hill, "The Navaho Indians and the Ghost
Dance of 1890," Ibid., 46 :525. See also Morris Edward Opler, "The Lipan Apache Death
Complex and its Extensions," Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 1:122-141 (1945),
and "Reaction to Death among the Mescalero Apache," Ibid., 2 :454-467 (1946).

The story of Franciscan mission work among the Navahos in recent times can be
read in Robert L. Wilken, Anselm Weber, O. F. M.: Missionary to the Navaho 1898-1921.
Milwaukee : The Bruce Publishing Co., 1954.

36. The Father Provincial's reply of March, 1750, to Don Ant Ornedal's Informe.
B. N. M., leg. 8 (pt. 3, doc. 70, N. M. A.). A. Cav no . De Croise to Ansa, Arispe, January
24, 1783. N. M. A., doc. 853 (1782-1784).

The care of these ornaments is discussed by Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez
in Eleanor B. Adams and Fray Angelico Chavez, The Missions of New Mexico, 1776,
p. 274f . Albuquerque : The University of New Mexico Press, 1956.


mountains, for the small compensation of the few ears of
corn, with which they pay, for this and other very laborious
work." Their petition for a land grant was acted upon favor-
ably by Governor Cachupin under date of November 25, 1753.

The Montano boys were not alone in this first venture to
the West. A total of twelve families, or about eighty persons,
were involved including a few servants. Their settlement
was officially named Nuestra Senora de la Luz, San Fernando
y San Blaz. The land lay along the Rio Puerco from a point
slightly south of west of Albuquerque to a boundary line
approximately due west of the Pueblo of Santa Ana. The
northern line enclosed a straegic water hole in the Canon del
Gueyo. Under the terms of the grant, specific lots were as-
signed to the families with the houses arranged in a compact
form to enclose a public square with only one gate for entry,
wide enough for a wagon. The arrangement was intentionally
for defense since the region was known to be a route of entry
for hostile enemies (the Southwestern Apaches) invading
the settlements to the east.

The settlers were officially placed in possession of their
land at the site of the village on December 11, 1753. Antonio
Baca, Chief Alcalde, officiated at the ceremony. The grant
was bounded on the north by the Zia-Laguna road, on the
south by the Cerrito Colorado, on the east by the Rio Puerco
Mountain (the brow) and on the west by the Mesa Prieta.
Due to their failure to meet the specific terms of the grant,
these settlers nearly lost possession. They petitioned for a
copy of the grant papers in 1759, not having received them.
Governor Don Francisco Antonio Marin del Valle (1754-
1760) stipulated that the grant would be reconfirmed pro-
vided they built a settlement according to the royal regula-
tions. They agreed, and a copy of the papers was issued by
the Governor under date of January 19, 1759. 37

Antonio Baca next located a site for a home and stock
ranch in 1759. He did not acquire legal possession and peti-
tioned three years later for a formal grant because he lacked

87. F. L.O., R49 (File 98).

A figure of seventy-four persons for this settlement is given by R. E. Twitchell,
Spanish Archives of New Mexico. l:91f (Doc. 277).

1720's TO 1770's 31

sufficient land "to enable me to raise, pasture and maintain
my herds and horses so necessary for the continual war
which, in the service of both God and the King, and without
pay, we maintain in this province with the savages overrun-
ning the country, supplying ourselves at our own expense
with arms, horses, ammunition and provisions, and in order
to enable me to do this with greater facility and promptness."
His willingness to locate in the place described was a tribute
to the peacef ulness, at that time, of the Navahos of Cebolleta. 38

The Baca grant lay west of the northern part of the
Montano grant. It was bounded on the north by the Mesa
Blanca Canyon, on the east by the Mesa Prieta, the south by
a point on the Rio Salada, and on the west by "the high moun-
tain, where the Navajo Apaches cultivate." The Rio Salada
enters the Rio Puerco from the west at about the same point
as Canon del Gueyo from the east. The "high mountain" of
the Navaho, of course, was Cebolleta Mountain. This grant
was named Nuestra Senora de la Luz de las Lagunitas del
Rio Puerco.

The roughness of the land made impossible a careful sur-
vey of the area, but since metes and bounds was the common
method of defining boundaries, and since the settlers of the
time knew what the geographical terminology meant, there
was no conflict over boundaries, although there might be and
actually were some disputes as to priority of possession. The
normal way to prevent conflict was to have witnesses present
when land was formally tendered to the owner. If there were
no objections at that time, the boundaries were considered

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