Padre Kino and the Trail to the Pacific
Chapter 2 Indians Shall Not Be Slaves! 1685
Chapter 2 Indians Shall Not Be Slaves! 1685
As a young man, Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, like St. Francis Xavier, whose name he bore, had wished above all else to go as a missionary to China. The Jesuits had found favor at the Chinese court because of their mathematical learning and their map-making ability, so in all his years of study, the young Kino had worked hardest at mathematics. A brilliant student, he had been invited to become a professor in a great European university, but he was not even tempted to accept. His heart burned with one desire, to carry the Faith to China.
But as a Jesuit he had made a solemn vow to be obedient. When he was sent to Lower California instead, he went gladly, welcoming the hardships, asking only to bear them for the rest of his life. It almost broke his |28| heart to leave the barren land and the people he had grown to love so much.
But leave them he must. When he found Admiral Atondo, a day's voyage south of San Bruno, the admiral, disappointed at the few pearls they had found, was ready to abandon his search and to sail to the mainland. And when they arrived Kino was ordered to report to his superior at the capital of Mexico.
Mexico City was not only the capital of New Spain, as Mexico was then called, it was also headquarters for the Jesuits. Set in a beautiful, fruitful valley, rimmed with snow-capped peaks, it was a pleasant place to live, a bustling, busy city of wide streets, great churches and the first university of this New World. A man of Padre Kino's brilliance and education should have been very happy there, but in his heart and mind were always the poor Indians of California. He tried one plan after another to get the mission re-established there. Each plan was considered, then rejected. It took too much money to ship supplies across the stormy sea.
But Kino was always full of hope. On the morning of June 19, 1686, he looked up with a smile as the door of his room swung wide and the Jesuit provincial entered.
But again the news was bad. "It would seem, Padre Kino," said the provincial, "we must give up the California |29| mission at least for the present. I fear the Indians will soon forget all they know of Christianity."
"They will not forget!" cried Kino. "And I will not forget them. Wherever I go, I will gather provisions. Someday a mission will once again be established in California and when it is, we will supply it."
"A good idea," said the provincial, "and I am sending you to a place where you may be able to carry out your project."
Kino looked up eagerly. He had feared they would keep him here, to teach in the university. "Where?"
"Far to the northwest, to the most remote Spanish outpost of New Spain, in upper Sonora."
Kino beamed. No one had drawn any maps of that country. He would have a chance to explore, to find out for himself whether California was an island or a peninsula and whether or not an overland route could be found.
"God is good!" he said. "I will gather what is needed and leave as soon as possible."
He fingered a big blue abalone shell on the table. "I picked this up on the west coast of California," he said, turning it so the iridescent blue-green underside glowed in the light. "I will carry it with me always, as a reminder of the country to which I hope to return. |30||picture: I have never found this shell save on the shores of the Pacific," said Padre Kino| |31| "I have been collecting shells for years and this one I have never found save on the shores of the Pacific."
Even for a man of action such as Padre Kino, it took much planning for a journey of fifteen hundred miles to establish a new mission. It was five long months before he was ready and mid-November when he set out. His mules were laden with bells, chalices and ornaments for the altar, along with enough supplies and equipment to last until he could begin to raise food for his own needs and those of his charges. As far as Guadalajara, the beautiful city in the mountains of western Mexico, he knew the road. He had been over it several times going to and coming from California. He had also visited coastal areas in the north, but although the road to Sonora paralleled the coast, it ran inland and there were few cities and towns along its course. He could expect hospitality only from scattered Jesuit missions and the Spanish mining camps.
He had some doubt about his reception at the latter. He carried with him a petition he had drawn up which, if granted, would stir up every mine owner in Mexico. Most of the mines were worked by Indian slaves. Padre Kino had learned that after the Jesuit padres had encouraged their converts to come to the settlements for |32| instruction, the Spaniards seized them and made them work for nothing. As a result these Indians, being sensible men, decided that becoming a Christian meant becoming a slave. They stayed away from the settlements and the work of the missionaries was grinding to a halt.
It took a month to travel from Mexico City to Guadalajara. On the morning of December 16, 1686, Padre Kino rose to read his petition in the Royal Audiencia, or high court of justice, there. Word had gotten around that something of importance was about to happen and the room was crowded.
Briefly Kino stated the problem. The remedy, he said, was simple:
"Let no one be permitted to take, or cause any Indian to be taken for service until five years have passed after his conversion."
There was a hushed silence, then an angry murmur from behind him. The royal official made no move to take the petition. Was it to be refused? No, he was smiling.
"A royal order dealing with this very matter has just arrived from Spain," said the official. "The King and Queen have received complaints on this subject and wish it to be known throughout all the New World that no Indian shall be obliged to serve in the mines or |33| work in any manner without pay for twenty years after baptism. Here is a copy of that order. You may take it with you."
He held out a scroll. Padre Kino, heart full to overflowing, took it and hurried away. Black looks followed him and there was more than one muttered, "Curse these meddling Jesuits!" from the ranks of the wealthy Spaniards who would always blame Kino for their loss of slave labor and stir up trouble against him at every opportunity.
He knew it and he did not care. His only thought was for the souls that awaited him. Perhaps in twenty years there would be other sources of labor for the mines. Perhaps the Spaniards would come to love the Indians as Kino did, treat them as brothers. At any rate, he would not have to worry about the problem of slavery for twenty blessed years.
He drove the pack train north at a grueling pace between the mountains and the sea, around canyons too steep to cross, fording rivers, carrying water from one dry camp to the next, working harder than anyone in the pack train. From one settlement to another they went, bringing news of the world, sending back letters to the provincial at the capital, and to a duchess in far off Spain whom Kino had never met, but whose prayers |34| and gifts had sustained him ever since he came to Mexico.
At night, beside the little fires, he thought of the long way he had come from the little town in the Tyrolese Alps of northern Italy where he was born in 1645. He forgot the disappointments and over and over again thanked God for the favors showered upon him. Then, after a thirst-provoking meal of sun-dried beef and equally dry tortillas, he rolled himself in a blanket and slept, to be up again before sunrise, helping with the packs, getting the mules lined out on the trail.
At the end of February, 1687, he reached Oposura in Sonora and reported to the Father Visitor, Padre González. This time Kino watched as someone else sketched a map.
"Here is our last outpost," said Gonzalez, "at Cucurpe, on the San Miguel River. Beyond that point are the Pimas, a warlike, troublesome people."
He eyed the face of the newcomer. Kino's expression did not change. His blue eyes eagerly scanned the rough map. "I had hoped to go to the Seri Indians on the Sea of California," he said, "but this is not too far away."
It was not the last time Padre González would hear that word California, but now he paid little attention. |35|
"Some of the Pimas threaten Spanish settlements," he said. "Do you think you can tame them?"
Kino smiled. "It will be easy, when they hear what has been done," and swiftly he told of the royal order.
"Twenty years!" exclaimed González. "The mayor of Sonora must know of this at once."
And next day, at the capital city of San Juan, Kino had the pleasure of seeing the mayor read the royal paper, kiss it and place it above his head as a token of obedience not only for himself, but all the Spanish whom he represented.
Then Kino and González were off to Cucurpe, Kino noting everything with his map-maker's eye. Cucurpe was near the western edge of mountain country. East of it was a series of rugged mountain chains, running from north to south, with Spanish settlements in the valleys between. In the northeast the map was blank. That was Apache land and the Apache tribes were far worse than the Pimas, the scourge of Spanish and neighboring Indians alike.
"They ravage the border missions and outlying ranches," said González. "They steal our horses and kill our cattle and inflict tortures on their captives. Worst of all, they keep even friendly tribes stirred up and ready for war. Soldiers try to patrol the country between |36| the fort at San Juan and the one at Bacanuche, but it is difficult terrain."
Kino scarcely heard. His face was turned toward the Pimas. Although they had been pictured as warlike and troublesome, he had decided to wait and find out for himself. Sometimes Indians were troublesome because they had been badly treated.
Beyond Cucurpe, at a beautiful spot where the San Miguel River broke out of a canyon several hundred feet deep, González said, "Here are your first charges," and pointed to a group of Indians outside a small village. Bordering it were rich bottom lands. The valley was ringed by mountain peaks. It was an ideal location for a mission, Kino thought, if the people would accept him.
"Chief Coxi asked us to send a priest," said Padre González. "See? They wait for you," and indeed, the women and children were holding out their arms in welcome.
The chief was away, said one of the women, but a headman of the tribe was dying. Would they come and baptize him?
Ducking his head, Kino followed González into the smoky gloom of the hut. These Indians were as dirty as the Californians, and smelled as bad, but they had |37| asked for a priest. Surely the soul of this poor fellow would be taken swiftly to heaven.
Outside in fresher air, González said, "There are other villages you may prefer to this one for your headquarters," but Kino shook his head. He felt as if he had come home. All that he lacked was a name for his mission. He thought for a moment, remembered a painting that had been given to him and rummaged through the packs for it.
"Nuestra Señora de los Dolores," he said proudly, using the Spanish name for Our Lady of Sorrows. And so the mission on the hill above the San Miguel River became known as Dolores. And it was well named for the Blessed Mother, for it would be the mother of many more missions.
Kino was so eager to begin his work that Padre González was no sooner out of sight next morning than Kino said to the priest from Cucurpe, "Come, let us go to see some of the people in the neighboring villages." And together they rode westward across the mountain to visit the Pimas in the next valley. During the next three days they rode, and when they returned to Dolores, Kino wrote an enthusiastic letter to the Spanish duchess about the well-watered valleys, towering cottonwood |38| trees, fertile fields and friendly natives. He had chosen sites for three more missions and named them San Ignacio, Imuris and Remedios. Now he must begin to make adobe bricks for the church, instruct the people at Dolores, baptize the children.
Area Pimeria Map
Easter came the last week in March that year and since Padre Kino could not celebrate it properly without a church, he was happy to accept the invitation to join his fellow missionaries at Tuape, farther down the river, where there was a spacious church. Although he had been at Dolores only two weeks, he took with him more than a hundred Pimas in a colorful procession down the valley.
Good-hearted Spanish ladies from a nearby mining town dressed the newly baptized Indian children in rich clothing and adorned them with their most beautiful jewels for the procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Were there muttered protests from their husbands, the mine owners? Did they say, "Baptized or not, Indians should be slaves?" If so, Padre Kino made no mention of it in his enthusiastic letter to the provincial.
But someone was not happy over his assignment to the Pimas. Even as the glorious Easter drew to a close, the pastor at Tuape took Kino aside and showed him a letter from Padre González. It said that the mayor of |39| Sonora, to whom Kino had shown the royal order prohibiting Indian slaves, had received a report that as soon as Kino arrived at Dolores, all the Pimas had moved away.
"Who would say such a thing?" cried Kino and, without waiting for an answer, "It does not matter who said it; the devil prompted it. We must let the Father Visitor know at once it is not true," and swiftly he penned a second letter to González telling of the thirty children he had baptized, with two sons of Chief Coxi among them, of the number who came with him to Tuape, and that instead of moving away from Dolores, the Pimas were coming to live nearer the mission.
"Will you sign this with me?" he asked when he had finished, and both the pastor and a visiting Jesuit were glad to do so.
"He writes well," said the pastor next day as he watched Kino ride away at the head of his hundred Pimas.
"Well, and forcefully," agreed his visitor. "If it came to a fight, I think I would be very glad to have Padre Kino on my side."
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