The Kachina and the Cross: Indians and Spaniards in the Early Southwest.
In this book Riley offers a synthesis of the history of the interactions between the Spanish and different indigenous groups of New Mexico collectively called the Pueblo Indians. The time frame of the book is the 82 years of Spanish domination of New Mexico between 1598 to 1680. However, Riley also discusses prehistory in New Mexico, society, culture, and religion in Iberia before the Spanish conquest in America, and the Spanish reconquest of New Mexico in the 1690s.
Riley is at his strongest in discussing prehistory, and this section of the book provides the reader with a clear and concise chronology of the evolution of indigenous society and culture up to the sixteenth-century. The author also describes contacts between central Mexico and New Mexico, and the rise of religion, particularly the katchina religion that was an important part of Pueblo culture when the Spanish arrived. Riley's short discussion of Spain is superficial at best, and really provides few insights to help understand Spanish behavior in New Mexico.
In a series of chronologically and topically organized chapters, the author relates the first Spanish approaches to New Mexico and the disastrous (from the perspective of the indigenous peoples of New Mexico) Coronado expedition of 1540-1542. This is followed by a discussion of several expeditions to New Mexico in the later 16th century, and the competition in Spain for the right to colonize New Mexico. Juan de Onate, a member of a wealthy mining family from Nueva Vizcaya, eventually won the right to colonize New Mexico, and in 1598 led a group of settlers up the Rio Grande River into the heart of Pueblo territory.
In his discussion of eight decades of Spanish domination in New Mexico, Riley concentrates on several themes. These themes include the establishment of missions by Franciscans, the process of evangelization in the missions, Spanish society in New Mexico, and conflicts between civil and religious officials. Having provided an overview to Spanish domination of New Mexico, Riley then spends four chapters describing the events leading to the great indigenous uprising of 1680, the uprising itself and Spanish retreat to El Paso, and the reconquest of New Mexico in the 1690s by Diego de Vargas.
Riley has written a useful synthesis and overview ideal for the casual reader and classroom use. This book incorporates decades of Riley's own scholarship, as well as some recent writings by others. The author also incorporates historical archaeology as a means of outlining changes in material culture. For the non-specialist this will prove to be a useful introductory book.
Having said this, I also have several criticisms. Although the subject of the book is the native peoples of New Mexico and the Spanish, the Spanish receive relatively more attention. Riley dwells on some important issues in a rather superficial fashion. I was very disappointed in the author's discussion of missionization. In a brief chapter Riley introduced interesting ideas that I had hoped he would have developed in more detail. However, he then dropped the question of religious persistence and transformation to move on to a discussion of the architecture of the Spanish missions of New Mexico. Similarly, I would have appreciated a more thorough discussion of Pueblo social, cultural, and religious change during Spanish domination. Riley does provide useful information, but I was left with the sense that there could have been more. Finally, Riley's discussion of demographic patterns left much to be desired.
On balance, this is a useful book that can benefit the casual reader, students, and scholars from other fields. It provides a useful introduction to an important period in New Mexico history. For specialists in New Mexico and/or the northern colonial frontier of Mexico, there is little here that is new.
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|Author:||Jackson, Robert H.|
|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2001|
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