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The Baca grant was significant in regard to the Navahos.
Under Spanish rule they were recognized as having a usu-
f ructary right to land when actually used. If there was any
possibility of Navaho rights being invaded, the Alcalde Mayor
also summoned them to be present as witnesses in order to

38. The Navahos had an opportunity to complain about this frontier expansion
other than being present at the time and place of placing a settler in possession of a
Grant. They had access to the Governor at Santa Fe who followed a policy of treating
them in a friendly way and of presenting visitors with food and a few gifts. Francisco
Antonio Marin de el Valle to Manl. de el Portillo y Urrizola, Santa Fe, May 10. 1761.
A. G. N., Prov. Inter. 102, f!41 (pt. 2, N. M. A.).


raise any valid objections at that time. On this occasion,
Navaho representatives were not actually present, but it was
reported by Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco when Baca was
placed in possession on August 3, 1762, that the adjoining
settlers said they would not be injured by the proposed bound-
aries, "nor would the peaceful Navajo Indians. . . ," 39

Antonio Baca failed to secure proper title to his land grant
when first located in 1759, so other settlers moved into the
area. Baca made a fight for his ranch and won a formal grant
from the Governor in 1762. Joaquin Mestas was the dis-
possessed settler and now applied for a grant in the upper
watershed of the Rio Puerco, northward from Baca's grant.
The specific boundaries are of no interest at the moment, but
the grantees received the land "with the condition that they
shall not give or occasion any injury to the Apaches of the
Navajo country, but shall rather treat them with love, fidel-
ity and kindness, endeavoring earnestly to bring them to the
pale of our Mother the Church and under the vassalage of
our sovereign. . . ." Bartolome Fernandez, Alcalde Mayor,
placed Mestas in possession on February 8, 1768. There were
no Navahos living there to object, and the nearest Spanish
settlers, the Montoyas to the south, had no complaint to
register. 40

Westward from the Mestas location, a land grant was
made to Ignacio Chaves et al. on January 20, 1768. It lay
along the Arroyo Chico which encircles Cebolleta Mountain
on the north. Governor Pedro Fermin de Mendinueta (1767-
1778) stipulated that the grant was made "saving the rights
of third parties having a better title, and especially the rights
of the Apaches of the Navaho country, (should there be any
on the land applied for by these parties) and under the condi-
tion that they shall not dispossess those Indians, nor drive
them away from the land they may have in occupation. . . ."
Navahos were to be summoned for the ceremony of posses-
sion, but there were none present when the act was carried

39. F. L. O., R101 (File 176). Published in 43 cons., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62, pp. 72ff.
Twitchell lists the grant in Spanish Archives .... 1 :41 (doc. 105).

40. F. L. O., R97 (File 171). Published in 43 cong., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62, p. 20;
and Twitchell, Spanish Archives .... 1 :159.

1720'S TO 1770's 33

out on February 17. 41 This was rather surprising because the
land was certainly close to the old haunts of the Indians. The
inference is that the Navahos had never cultivated the bottom
land of the Arroyo Chico, although they had a stronghold
nearby on top of the Mountain.

Two residents of Atrisco, Diego Antonio Chaves and
Pedro Chaves, seeking land for their stock, pushed over to
the northwest side of Mt. Taylor in the Canyon of San Miguel,
a southerly extension of Arroyo Chico. There they found a
spring of water. The Governor was a bit scornful of their
petition for a land grant in 1766. It appeared to him that they
could have located nearer existing settlements, such as San
Fernando on the Puerco, but that they preferred to have
land in "the peaceful region of the Navajo country." 42 But
the important question was whether the Navahos would be af-
fected adversely. Bartolome Fernandez, who was well ac-
quainted with the region, advised the Governor that "I have
never observed that they the said Apaches have lived upon the
land permanently, and much less would it be prejudicial to
the people of this province" (that is, the Navaho). Further-
more, "In regard to whether the Navajo Apaches have
planted or now plant upon the land applied for I state, that
I have seen in a branch of the little valleys scattered here
and there a few corn stalks, but I have never observed that
the Apaches lived near these small patches of corn, but they
mostly make their huts, owing to their dread of the Utahs,
distant and on the highest and roughest parts of the mesas."

The Alcalde Mayor made a correct observation of Navaho
farming practice. His failure and that of the Governor was
not to realize that the patches of corn that appeared aban-
doned were symbolic of Indian use of the land. It was possible
of course that Spanish stockmen could run their cattle or
sheep in the country without harming the crops. When the
act of possession was carried out on July 4, 1767, "with sum-
mons to the Navajo Apaches, who adjoin the said tract of

41. F. L. O., R96 (File 170). 43 cong., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62, p. 13.

42. The Rio Puerco region, due west of Albuquerque, or southeast from Mt. Taylor,
had long been regarded by Spanish authorities as a route of attack by Southwestern
Apaches against the Rio Abajo, so the northwestern side of Mt. Taylor would be a safer


Nuestra Senora del Pilar on the West, and who are outside of
these limits, they interposing no objection whatever," the
grantees felt no sense of intrusion into forbidden territory. 43

Continuing the encirclement of Mt. Taylor with land
grants, Bartolome Fernandez de la Pedrera petitioned for a
tract of land farther up the Canyon of San Miguel, or south
of the grant made to Felipe Taf oya and associates. The spring
of San Miguel provided the necessary water. "Although some
small parties of Apaches of province [of Navaho] are accus-
tomed to live at said spring this will not prevent them from
so doing but will rather serve to conciliate and gratify them,
and contribute to their quietude whilst in our lawful friend-
ship and good relations . . .," so the petitioner claimed.

Governor Mendinueta approved the petition provided that
there was no injury to the interests of a third party (the usual
reservation) "and especially to the unchristianized Indians,
of the province of Navajo, not only those accustomed to live
at San Miguel spring but all the others who should be treated
with kindness and Christian policy, so as to incline them to
civilization, and draw them to our holy faith, and the subjec-
tion of our sovereign." With this understanding, on Septem-
ber 11, 1767, the grantees were placed in possession of the
land by Carlos Jose Perez de Mirabal at Santa Cruz de Guada-
lupe in the "Navajo province." In regard to the rights of the
third party, he reported : "the citation I made to the adjoining
parties, the same being to all the contiguous residents, except
to the Navajo Apaches, there being none at that place, but
having ascertained, whether any of them lived there all an-
swered me as well the residents as other Navajoes, that
usually when out hunting a few came to reside a short time at
said spring" of San Miguel. 44

To the southwest of the Bartolome Fernandez grant, or
northwest of Mt. Taylor, Santiago Duran y Chaves petitioned

43. F. L. O., R99 (File 173). 43 cong., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62, p. 41ff. Twitchell,
Spanish Archives, 1:140 (doc. 456).

It was even recorded that the lack of Navaho opposition was marked by the fact
that "two families having voluntarily joined them, and who are supported by kind treat-
ment, and the said land so applied for being known to be unfit for cultivation, and fit
only for pasture land, on which account the said Apaches have not made, nor will not
make, any complaint whatever, as is shown by the past."

44. F. L. O., R78 (File 154). Twitchell, Spanish Archives, 1 :110f (doc. 358).

1720's TO 1770's 35

for a square league of land in 1768 that enclosed on its eastern
side the spring of San Mateo. This was "in the neighborhood
of Navajo. Although in the vicinity of the spring some
Apaches farm they cannot be injured because there is suffi-
cient land where I may establish my farm without injury to
them," and the site lies outside the Fernandez grant. As in
so many cases of requests for land, Duran y Chaves needed
more pasturage, his stock numbering 800 mares, 40 mules,
1,000 sheep, and some cattle belonging to his mother.

The petition was acted upon favorably by Governor
Mendinueta "without prejudice to any third party . . . and
very especially to the Apaches who plant at the mentioned
spring of San Mateo." If necessary to avoid disturbing the
natives, the boundaries should be adjusted accordingly. When
Don Bartolome Fernandez measured the area on February
12, there were "seven ranches of Apache Navajo" within the
southeast boundary of the small valley where the grant was
located, but they did not object to the intrusion of the Spanish
settler because they were friends and would assist them
against their enemy the Ute Indians. 45

Two years before the Mestas land grant, Governor Cachu-
pin had granted a tract one league square to Miguel and San-
tiago Montoya, residents of Albuquerque, in the upper Puerco
valley. It was bounded on the north by the Mestas land, on
the south by a tract belonging to Jose Garcia, and extended
westward from the Rio Puerco to a hill called Angostura. It
lay north of the junction of the Arroyo Chico and Rio Puerco.
The Governor granted the petition of the Montoyas on Octo-
ber 23, 1766. The following year, on January 29, Bartolome
Fernandez placed them in possession : "proceeding to meas-
ure oif one league, on each course, I measured from East to
West, three thousand four hundred varas, the distance from
the Puerco river, which is the boundary on the East, to a small
hill called the Angostura, which is the boundary on the west,
and in order not to impinge upon fields that are generally
planted by the Navajo Apaches, and which are situated
towards the west, I completed the remainder of the five
thousand varas on the northern side, the boundary being the

45. F. L. O., R134 (File 190).


point of a mesa called the Bosque Grande. . . ." Witnesses
from Zia Pueblo gave their assent to the grant, but there were
no Navahos present. 46

Luis Jaramillo, a discharged corporal of the Santa Fe
garrison with thirty-six years of service to his credit, peti-
tioned for land "on the slope of the Navajo country" for the
maintenance of about 1,000 head of small stock and a few
cows. The desired spot was west of the villages along the Rio
Puerco where settlers received a grant in 1753. They pro-
tested the proposed grant to Jaramillo, but lost their case.
He was given possession on August 14, 1769. To the west of
Luis' land, a tract was held by Salvador Jaramillo who sold
part of it for the sum of $5,600 worth of cows and sheep in
1772 to Don Clemente Gutierres, a resident of Albuquerque.
The sales contract had an interesting stipulation from the
point of view of Navaho possessory rights : "the said vendor
also says that if at any time the Apaches who live in the center
of the sitio should ask for the said land in order to establish
a town, the vendor shall not lose it, the purchaser shall lose
it. . . ," 47 Salvador Jaramillo's homesite was at Santa Cruz
de Navajo. 48

In the winter of 1768 Bernardo de Miera and Pedro Pa-
dilla were granted a tract of land one league square that
bordered the south side of the holdings of Antonio Baca and
Salvador Jaramillo and lay west of the settlements of the Rio
Puerco. The land that they wanted was "commonly called the
Canada de los Alamos. . . ." The boundary of the proposed
grant was conditioned by the "understanding that if on the
course towards Cebolleta where the Pueblo of the Navajo
Apaches was commenced to be built the survey of the league
should approach so as prejudicially to affect the planting or
pastoral lands belonging to the site of the said Pueblo so
commenced, it will be reduced in so far as not to occasion
injury. . . ." This was in keeping with the usual practice of
safeguarding the interest of a third party, "and especially the
Apaches of the Navajo country, and under the condition that

46. F. L. O., R100 (File 175). 43 cong., 2 sess.. hse. ex. doc. 62. Twitchell. Spanish
Archives, 1:162 (doc. 571).

47. F. L. O., R103 (File 177). 43 cons:., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62. p. 100.

48. F. L. O., R98 (F172).

1720's TO 1770's 37

they do not ill treat them or drive them away from their set-
tlements [estancias] but rather endeavor, to bring them under
the influence of our holy faith and under the control [vassal-
age] of our Sovereign, by treating them with good faith and
Christian Charity, under the penalty of Defeasance in the
grant. . . ."

Pacheco and Padilla were residents of the Albuquerque
jurisdiction and had experienced the pinch of inadequate pas-
turage for their stock. The former owned some cows and Pa-
dilla had 700 sheep and a small herd of mares. The care
revealed in safeguarding the interests of the Navahos implies
that the Indians were not stockmen in this locality, otherwise
there should have been a clash of interests at the moment.
This assumption is strengthened by the fact that the western
boundary of the land grant was Cebolleta Mountain and to
the south "a canon where there are usually some Apaches
living." The northern boundary was the Arroyo Salada in

Francisco Trebol Navarro, Alcalde Mayor of the Albu-
querque jurisdiction, placed the grantees in possession on
March 3, 1768. For witnesses of the ceremony to safeguard
third-party interests, there "appeared the settlers of San
Fernando, on the Puerco river, Salvador Jaramillo settler at
the place Santa Cruz de Navajo, and the Indians of Sebolleta,
and each of them exhibited to me the grants they have respec-
tively to the lands they hold . . .," and stated that they would
not be injured by the new grant. 49

In 1768, Don Carlos Jose Perea de Mirabal petitioned for
a grant of land that he had been using about eight years. It lay
to the west of Jaramillo's holdings. The area was known as
the Canada de los Alamos, sometimes called Sitio de Navajo
or place occupied by the Indians. Don Carlos claimed that he

49. F. L. O., R98 (File 172). 43 cong., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62.

Some Navahos apparently had become aware of the Spanish procedure for securing
land ownership. This inference is strengthened by the statement that the Navahos of
Cebolleta had engaged in campaigns against hostile Indians in company with the Pueblo
folk of Laguna, Acoma and Zufii, "and they have come as the other Pueblos to confirm
their varas."

Governor Don Francisco Antonio Marin del Valle (1754-1760) to Governor Don
Manuel del Portillo y Urrisola (ad interim 1760), May 10, 1761. A. G. N., Provincial
Interims 102, pt. 2, f!43.


had located there before the Navahos and had lived amicably
with them: "That within these said villages of Navajo
Apaches, that most of these have come to settle here since I
have been in possession without having had any trouble. . . ."
His petition was granted by Governor Mendinueta on May 21,
1768, "without prejudice to any third party who may have a
better right, and particularly with regard to the Navajo
Apaches, notwithstanding that the greater part of those who
live within the limits of the boundaries may have gone there
after the said grantee Mirabal had settled there." On June 18,
at Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe of Santa Rosa, Bartolome
Fernandez placed him in possession of the grant. Neither
neighbor Jaramillo nor the "Apaches" objected. 50

The country along the south side of Mt. Taylor was also
penetrated by eighteenth century Spanish settlers. Baltazar
Baca, a resident of (Our Lady of) Belen, feeling the pinch
for pasturage, petitioned for a tract of land about three
leagues slightly west of north from Laguna Pueblo. The east-
ern boundary joined the land where the Franciscans had at-
tempted to establish the mission of Encinal. The petition was
approved on December 16, 1768, with the condition that Baca
and his sons, who were partners in the grant, should not for-
sake their homes in Belen and should use the land only for
stock raising. Third party interests of course were not to be
injured, least of all "the pagan Apaches of the Province of
Navaho." Neither the Pueblo folk nor any Navahos objected
when Antonio Sedillo placed the grantees in possession on
January 19 of the following year, naming the tract "San Jose
del Encinal." 51

The amicable intrusion of the Spanish into the territory of
the Navahos came to an abrupt end early in the decade of the
1770's. The half century of peace between the two people was
followed by another era of conflict. As a result, the settlers in
the Valley of the Rio Puerco abandoned their holdings, and
the settlements became ghost villages. The Navahos re-
asserted mastery of their territorial homeland just as earlier

60. F. L. O. (File 195).

61. F. L. O.. R104 (F 178). 43 cong., 2 sess., hse. ex. doc. 62, p. 109f. Twitchell,
Spanish Archives, 1 :44 (doc. 114).

1720'S TO 1770'S 39

they had rejected the Spanish mission and the notion of vil-
lage life for themselves. Missionary work among them was
not resumed until the closing years of the nineteenth century.
The contest for land in the Cebolleta area ended in their de-
feat much earlier.

The failure of the Navaho mission was due to the gulf
that existed between the two cultures, and additional sources
can be cited to illustrate that situation. But the reopening of
the struggle for land can only be surmised in the lack of spe-
cific reasons advanced by contemporary recorders of events.
It is reasonable to assume that Spanish stock ranging on
unf enced acreage might wander into Navaho corn fields and
enjoy the rich diet but irritate the rightful owners in the
process. To protect the fields was not practicable because the
Navahos did not have a year-round fixed habitation, nor
did they pay much attention to careful cultivation of a corn
crop, leaving it more to the tender ministrations of Mother
Nature. On the other hand, the roaming Spanish-owned stock
could readily be a temptation to the younger have-nots among
the Navahos. The theft of a horse, or a few sheep would
readily arouse the owners to punitive action. This in turn
could stir up other Navahos who, perhaps guiltless in starting
the trouble, might be punished for the wrong-doings of their
kinsmen. With retaliation following retaliation on a petty
scale, the time would come when the government would be ob-
ligated to take a hand in the matter. This in turn meant
outright warfare or skillful diplomacy. In the eighteenth cen-
tury, the Spanish tried both methods, especially the latter in
the decade of the 1780's after a few years of warfare.

The assumption that the cause of the trouble between the
two peoples was simply economic in nature is an over-simpli-
fication of the story, although it is difficult to analyze the
problem with ease because of the one-sided nature of the
sources of information and the nature of those sources. But
there was a time of general economic distress during the
drought of the late 1740's that could have incited the Navahos
to seek relief by raiding their neighbors. But this drought
occurred during the era of peace. It did not lead to the reopen-
ing of Navaho-Spanish hostilities. They were delayed for


another quarter century, and at that time there is no clear
evidence that the Navahos were in dire straits. There must
have been some other specific factor. It can only be concluded
for the time being that too close contact through territorial
proximity provoked frictions that brought an end to the long-
est era of peace between the white people and these Indians
until their military subjection in the 1860's, about two and a
half centuries after the first recording of conflict between
the two, Navahos and the Europeans. 52

62. Writing in 1781, Croix stated that "The fear of losing their possessions obliges
them [the Navahos] to keep peace in New Mexico, but when they observe afflictions
within the province, they are induced by their relatives, the Gila, to declare war upon us."
Alfred Barnaby Thomas, Teodoro de Croix and the Northern Frontier of New Spain,
1776-1783, p. 113. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 1941.

To risk their own possessions for the sake of their distant kinsmen is too altruistic.
To believe that the Navahos would fish in troubled waters, except for a few have-nots,
is hard to believe.



THE Americans who came into New Mexico during
the first half of the nineteenth century found a society
very different from the one they had left in the United States.
The language, the religion, and the customs were unlike any-
thing they had known. The people dressed differently, ate
different foods, and governed their actions by a set of values
which the newcomers found difficult to understand. There
was more gayety, less social restraint, and an attitude almost
of indifference to material gain. The visitors saw much that
interested them, and many of them recorded their reactions
for posterity in letters, diaries, and journals.

Few aspects of the society received more attention from
the early visitors to New Mexico than the women. They were
the one subject upon which most newcomers voiced approval.
The Mexican men were usually disliked by the Americans,
but almost every male visitor whose opinions have been
encountered has had something complimentary to say about
the women. The two sexes were endowed with entirely differ-
ent character traits in the writings of the Americans. The
consistency of these differences in the reports of the Ameri-
cans removes any doubt as to the sincerity with which these
opinions were formed. George Kendall wondered at the
contrast between "the almost universal brutality and cold-
heartedness of the men of New Mexico," and "the kind
dispositions and tender sympathies exhibited by all classes
of the women." 1 Francis Parkman, perhaps unconsciously,
made a distinction between the men and women by referring
to the men as "Mexicans," and the women as "Spanish." He
spoke of seeing "a few squaws and Spanish women" and "a
few Mexicans, as mean and miserable as the place itself." He

* Department of English, East Texas State Teachers College, Commerce, Texas.
1. George W. Kendall, Narrative of the Texar^Santa Fe Expedition (Chicago:
R. R. Donnely and Sons Company, 1929), pp. 393-394.



also saw "three or four Spanish girls, one of them very
pretty." 2

Two explanations are possible concerning the distinctions
made between the men and the women : the latter either had
many finer qualities, or the American visitors were preju-
diced. The latter explanation seems possible when it is
remembered that these visitors were usually men who had
been long away from the society of civilized women. Most of
them were either trappers or traders, men to whom home-ties
were not strong. The former group would spend months away
from civilization during the trapping season, and on their in-
frequent visits to Taos or Santa Fe it is not likely that they
would be too critical of any female companionship they en-
countered. The traders had been weeks away from white
settlements when they reached New Mexico, and could un-
derstandably react in the same way as the trappers. It is
significant that the only American woman to visit New
Mexico at this time and give her opinions of the New
Mexican women she saw, did not have much that was com-
plimentary to say about them. Susan Magoffin told of passing
a stream where women were washing clothes.

It is truly shocking to my modesty to pass such places with
gentlemen. The women slap about with their arms and necks
bare, perhaps their bosoms exposed (and they are none of the
prettiest or whitest) ; if they are about to cross the little creek
that is near all the villages, regardless of all about them, they
pull their dresses, which in the first place but little more than
covered their calves, up above their knees and paddle through

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