Padre Kino and the Trail to the Pacific
Chapter 11 Plan for New Spain 1705
Chapter 11 Plan For New Spain 1705
Padre Kino rode slowly down the sandy trail from Remedios to Dolores. He did not know why he should be so tired. He was returning from a routine trip of inspection and everything was doing well this spring of 1705, the wheat green and thick in the fields, white clouds of blossoms in the orchards, and the desert gullies alight with pale yellow blooms.
Since the autumn before, worries had crowded in upon him. The gossips were causing more trouble than ever. Last September a story ran through Sonora like fire crackling through the dead branches of a tree— Chief Duck Tail of Cocóspora was plotting rebellion!
"With the staff of office I am not a man. With weapons I am one!" That was what the good-natured chief was supposed to have said. And, ridiculous as it was, Kino had to take him and his two sons (good cowboys both, and needed with the cattle) to Cucurpe for a |147| hearing. The moment the Spaniards saw Duck Tail they knew how foolish the story was. But to make sure everyone might know the loyalty of the Pimas at Cocóspora, Kino held the Christmas celebration there in the beautiful new church, and invited every soldier within riding distance to come and share in the festivities.
Now there was more trouble afoot. Padre Kino struck the pommel with a gloved fist. He would like to get his hands on the newly appointed lieutenant who had gone to Tubutama, had threatened the Indians and had driven some of them away from the mission. The padre there was on his way to protest to the Father Visitor about it. Many of those Indians had moved their families from long distances to be closer to the church, the mission supplies. It was an arrangement of mutual advantage to people and Church.
Kino looked ahead into the cool shade of the canyon. His horse threw up its head and whinnied and there was the thunder of hoof beats as a band of mares and colts swept toward them. Kino waved his arms and shouted and his foreman rode from behind to turn the band and head the animals back to their pasture. Someone was not watching the gate—or had not mended the fence when it needed it. |148|
The horse quickened his step. Food and water were just ahead. But before they came out of the trees there was a shrill halloo from the bluff. One of the ranch foremen came sliding down in a cloud of sandy dust, hit the trail at a run and came gasping up to throw his arms around Kino's black clad leg.
"Do not let them take me," he cried. "I do not want to leave the mission!"
"What are you talking about? Who is going to take you away?" but even as Kino spoke, he knew what had happened. The brash lieutenant had taken advantage of his absence to raid Dolores.
Kino laid the whip on the horse's side and plunged up the trail out of the canyon, the Indian running alongside, clinging to his stirrup. The plaza was a mass of Indians, the women crying, men waving their arms and shouting their grievances to the blue sky. When they saw Kino they surged toward him in a shouting wave that sent his horse up on its hind legs, pawing the air. Kino brought him down with one blow of his gloved hand between the ears, then quieted the mob with his right hand outstretched, tracing the sign of the Cross above their heads.
Pointing to Marcos, now grown and a minor official of the village, Kino said, "What happened?"
|149||picture: Padre Kino plunged up the trail out of the canyon, the Indian clinging to his stirrup| |150|
Marcos gulped. "The officer came yesterday morning. He asked how many in the village had moved here from other places. He said we bribed them to come to Dolores. He made all of them go away with him!"
"How many did he take?" The padre's face was pale with anger.
"Ninety," said Marcos.
"Did he not question the people before he took them away?" asked Kino.
Marcos nodded indignantly. "All except three told him they came here because they wanted to. He took them anyway."
"Tell the people to go to their work," said Kino. "I will ask for an investigation." Ask, indeed! He would demand to know by what right a Spanish officer interfered with the work of a padre!
Before the investigation caught up with him, the lieutenant was far north in Arizona, on the San Pedro River, requisitioning supplies of corn from the Indians. When they did not want to give it to him he took it anyway, boasting that he had obtained the lieutenancy of this Pima land for this very reason.
Chief Coro was there and Coro knew very well what this kind of oppression led to. |151|
"Do you want the Pimas to run away into the mountains?" he demanded. "Do you want them to join the Apaches?"
Furious at the impudence of a mere Indian, the lieutenant hurried back to San Juan to report that Chief Coro had joined forces with Chief Duck Tail. They were marching down through Sonora. The missionaries must flee for their lives!
Soldiers from San Juan started for the scene. Fortunately Kino heard about it and intercepted them at Bacanuche, told them it was a false alarm and sent them on to Cocóspora to see for themselves. Chief Duck Tail welcomed officials and soldiers with his customary broad grin and gave orders for a feast in their honor. Then Kino rode in and sent for Coro who came promptly with a number of his people. Shortly after his arrival a cloud of dust heralded the approach of hard riding troops and the Flying Column pelted in from the mountains to the east.
"What is all this about?" cried the officer in command. "My orders were urgent. We were told the Pimas were in revolt everywhere, that there was another massacre of the padres."
"It is as you see," said Padre Kino, "but, since you are here, come with us to Dolores for Holy Week. |152| Then we will send these two Pima chiefs to San Juan to see the general."
Duck Tail and Coro returned from San Juan with many gifts of clothing, hats, knives and ribbons. They then went back to their villages well content, pleased to have been the center of so much attention.
Kino too was content. The indiscreet lieutenant had gone too far, even for the men who for selfish reasons of their own had arranged his appointment. He was relieved of his duties and Kino heard no more of him. Best of all, the Indians who had been taken away began to drift back to the missions and soon all was as it had been.
But the incident left scars. The investigation had revealed that many Spaniards in Sonora would like to see the missions destroyed, the Indians left without the padres to protect them.
Yet it seemed the missions had never been stronger. Padre Kino sat at his table one day studying a request from the new provincial in Mexico City—none other than his old friend, Salvatierra. There was also a new Father Visitor, Padre Picolo, who had worked with Salvatierra in California. Kino could not have had two more staunch supporters.
At last, workers were coming from Spain. "And I |153| beseech you," wrote Picolo, "to please inform me how many are the missions founded in Pima country and how many fathers are necessary."
Gladly Kino picked up his pen, beginning his report with the nine missions already active.
"Dolores, Remedios and Cocóspora are under my personal care," he wrote. "Padre Campos continues at San Ignacio, with Magdalena and Imuris under his supervision. Padre Minutuli has Tubutama, and two smaller missions on the Altar River."
All these places were known to Salvatierra. Would he remember those he saw on his trip over the divide to the north? And west, to Caborca?
When he finished, Padre Kino had requested five new padres to take over fifteen villages. He dispatched the report to the Father Visitor and from there it went swiftly to Salvatierra, thence to Rome. And Padre Picolo wrote to Kino:
"In spite of the Devil, who seeks confusion, those apostolic missions are going to be founded and advanced."
In previous letters to the capital, Kino had mentioned the ranch at Sonóita, from which he hoped to drive stock to California. And he had discussed a land route to a port on the Pacific Coast, where the ship |154| which sailed every year from China to Mexico might find harbor, and send part of its cargo over a direct overland supply route to Sonora.
And in his Historical Memoirs, which he had been writing for years at the request of his superiors, Padre Kino was making a master plan, not only for Sonora and New Spain, but for the whole continent of North America.
"At the same time the missions spread the Faith, they promote Christian civilization," he wrote. "Here they have protected Sonora from the inroads of Apaches and their fellow bandits. A mission at Quíburi, with a fort there for defense, for example, would help Chief Coro in his valiant fight against the enemy."
Kino read the last paragraph to Padre Campos one summer afternoon, while the village drowsed around them. Campos smiled at the sound of Coro's name. If Padre Kino could be said to be partial to anyone, it was that doughty old chief Coro. He couldn't be blamed for that. Coro worshipped the ground Kino walked on and had risked his life more than once in battle against Kino's enemies.
"Their Imperial Majesties will surely see the wisdom in what you write," Campos agreed. "But what of |155| the rest of it? You said you had plans for the country beyond."
Kino's gray-blue eyes, sun-wrinkled at the corners, gazed past the patio wall with its sheltering branches, heavy with their juicy burden of golden apricots. He was seeing the land across the Gila and, in the east, the missions of New Mexico, bought by the blood of martyred Franciscan friars.
"By new missions we can add new provinces to the realm," he said slowly. "With the favor of heaven we shall be able shortly to enter upon the conversion of the neighboring Apaches."
Kino nodded. "We sent messages to those who live near the Colorado River, in the north. They have invited us to come and see them. There are reports that they will be won to our friendship and to the desire of receiving our holy Catholic Faith."
Campos drew in his breath sharply. "If that were true—"
"It would mean we might enter and trade with New Mexico and with the Moqui and the Zuñis." Kino's face was radiant with the dream. "From New Mexico we could go north and northwest, west to Upper California |156| and to the Pacific Ocean. And east we could join with our fellow Jesuits in New France. A road to Canada would offer a short cut to France and Spain, only half as long as the road which we are accustomed to travel by way of the City of Mexico."
Unconsciously his hand was tracing a map as he spoke and the scientist in him was uppermost for the moment, for he hated the foolish errors in the ancient charts.
"If we continue with the promotion and advancement of these new conversions we should be able to make accurate maps of North America, the greater part of which is unknown, or practically unknown. For some ancients blot the map with so many and such errors and with such fictitious grandeurs and feigned riches as a crowned king whom they carry in chairs of gold, with walled cities and with lakes of quicksilver and gold or amber, and of corals. But they do not say a word about the principal riches that exist there, the innumerable souls ransomed by the most precious blood of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ."
Campos blessed himself, heart warm toward the sturdy Kino who, whatever else his talents might be, was first and always a missionary. The padre was thinner than he had been, Campos thought, but the country |157| and the work did that to all of them. And Kino never ate properly, seeming to prefer an unappetizing dish to a filling, delicious one. And he still spent more hours on his knees than he did sleeping at night. He had not done so much traveling of late, however. It would be well if he gave it up altogether and saved his strength.
But when Campos said as much, Kino shook his head. "Have you not heard? Despite all we have proved, there are those who still cling to the notion that California is separated from the mainland by a great Sea, running many hundreds of miles to the north. There is still much to be done."
Late in the autumn Padre Campos read a report by a Franciscan friar who had accompanied Kino on a final trip to the head of the Sea of California.
"In shape," wrote the friar, "the head of the Gulf of California resembles the right foot of a man. The mouth of the Colorado River corresponds to the big toe. Therefore, California is not an island, but only a peninsula, as long since very well and correctly has been said by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino!"
That should settle it, thought Campos, but it probably wouldn't. There was always someone who clung |158| to the old ideas and refused to change. Look at Kino's military friend, Manje, for instance. Of all the Spanish in the New World, he had traveled most with Padre Kino, and while he had not gone on the later trips, he must have seen enough of the country to the northwest to make him give up the theory that California was an island. Give it up he would not!
Padre Campos sighed unhappily. Manje was a general now. He had acquired a good deal of property and spent most of his time in the company of wealthy Spanish ranchers and mine owners. Had he forgotten all the lessons Padre Kino had taught him? Had he forgotten especially what fine citizens these Pimas were, wondered Campos? He had heard a rumor (Kino refused to believe it) that General Manje wanted to take these good Christian Indians and make slaves of them.
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