Monday, September 09, 2019

New Mexico's First "White Man" & Saint Guinefort

So we continue to learn more and more about the not too distant past of our new home state – and about our grand-dog’s ancestors. Today’s lessons are (1) the first “white man” the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico ever saw saw was black, and (2) and our grand-dog’s forebears were not at all sweet-tempered couch-potatoes like she is. Interestingly, the two discoveries are part of the same story.
The subject of the “white black man” quip was a Moroccan slave named Esteban (aka "Esteban the Moor," "Estevan," "Stephen the Black," "Esteban de Dorantes" (after his owner), or "Estevanico" (in the condescending diminutive with which the Spanish referred to their human property.)  By whatever name, in 1539 he was the first non-Indian to enter what are now the states of Arizona and New Mexico – 46 years before the first English-speaking colonists crossed the Atlantic.
The African adventurer was a complete unknown to us until we met him in person as one of the “Spirits of New Mexico” reenacted at El Rancho de las Golondrinas’ Halloween event. Recently we learned more at a lecture at the New Mexico History Museum.
Not much of Esteban’s early life is known. He was sold into slavery in 1522 in the Portuguese-controlled town of Azemmour, Morocco – then resold five years later to Spanish nobleman, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza who brought him as his slave on Pánfilo de Narváez's 1527 expedition to colonize Florida and the Gulf Coast, and (as is usual with the Colonial Spanish) to hopefully find gold. Although almost certainly raised as Muslim – and even though the Spanish were very much in the business of converting such non-Christians to Catholicism – there seems to be no evidence of a change of faith (voluntary or not) on his part.
The crew for Narváez's Florida expedition initially numbered about 600 and included men from Spain as well as Portugal, Greece, and Italy. (Such a variety of national origins was not unusual.) The odyssey met with disaster before reaching its destination. While making stops at Hispaniola and Cuba the fleet was devastated by a hurricane and lost two ships. After landing near Sarasota Bay, Florida a party of 300 men, including Esteban and Dorantes, were sent overland in search of gold.  They underwent numerous attacks by indigenous peoples including the Apalachee Indians – and suffered from disease and starvation. There was none of the precious metal. In September 1528, what remained of the group tried to escape to Mexico on makeshift rafts, and were swept onto Galveston Island off the coast of Texas. Eighty men survived and were captured and enslaved by the Karankawa Indians. Four of them – Esteban, Dorantes, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Alonso del Castillo Maldonado – lived through this and managed to escape five years later, in 1534.

Esteban is described as a physically intimidating man – muscular and over six feet tall in a world of 5’ 6” people – as well as being a natural polyglot who quickly learned enough of the native languages to act as chief negotiator, interpreter, go-between, and (drawing upon his knowledge of African and Spanish medicine) folk healer. Thus he became the de facto leader of the wandering pack, although not formally in charge due to his position as Dorantes’ slave. In 1536, the quartet of survivors, and a retinue of six hundred Indian escorts they had accumulated on their travels, happened upon a Spanish slaving expedition near Mexico City – finally ending their eight-year-long, 15,000-mile sojourn.
With the apparently miraculous arrival of four seasoned (although mostly unsuccessful) explorers the attention of the Spanish colonial administrators in Mexico City turned to the mysterious north, which (like Florida) had long been rumored to harbor treasure equal to that of the Aztecs.  Dorantes, de Vaca, and Castillo Maldonado however refused to lead or take part in such an expedition.  So, Don Antonio de Mendoza, the Viceroy of New Spain, engaged the services of Esteban, purchasing him from Dorantes. Since a slave could not be put in charge of such a safari, Mendoza persuaded a Franciscan friar, Marcos de Niza, to nominally head the venture – albeit from quite a distance to the rear as shown by his diaries. (By agreement, Esteban traveled several days ahead of Fray Marcos, leaving behind him a trail of crosses of varying size, corresponding with his findings.)
The group set out in 1539 with Esteban reprising his previous roles as negotiator, healer, interpreter, go-between – as well adapting a new persona, as the “Son of the Sun.” It apparently worked. Their passage was safe, and convinced of the slave’s powers, over 300 natives joined his entourage. All was going well on the trip northward until the lead party reached Hawikuh, a Zuni pueblo located just east of the present Arizona-New Mexico border – and then things suddenly went south for the previously unstoppable Moroccan slave.
Although historians do not totally concur on what went wrong – they do agree that the adventures of Esteban ended at Hawikuh. Remember that the official documentarian of this trip was at least several days behind and working off of at best second hand information.
In one version of the story Esteban sent a message to the Zuni tribal leaders, announcing that “he was coming to establish peace and heal them.” The Pueblo elders responded with a warning that he must not enter the village.  Esteban ignored it – possibly blasphemously crossing a line of corn pollen the Zuni priests had sprinkled around the pueblos during a sacred ceremony – and was killed.  Word of his death reached Fray Marcos, who took a quick look at Pueblo Hawikuh from afar, then headed back to Mexico City claiming to have discovered the fabled golden city of Cibola.
Another variation asserts that a gourd decorated with red ribbons and bells, which Esteban had sent with his message, gravely offended the Zuni leadership. Other tales say that the Zuni did not believe Esteban's story that he represented a party of whites – ­ or that they did believe it and knew that what was coming behind him would not be good for the Indians – or that he was killed for demanding turquoise – or that because he was black and wore feathers and rattles, he may have looked like a malevolent wizard to the Zuni.
Zuni oral history likewise is ambiguous – with some accounts even alleging that Esteban and his Indian friends faked his death so he could gain freedom from slavery.
Interestingly there are many images of Esteban the New Mexican explorer available today. According to some folklore the Zuni Kachina figure, Chakwaina, is based on Esteban.
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At the lecture we were shown an illustration portraying him clothed in animal pelts with his ankles and arms adorned with bells, feathers, and pieces of turquoise – a man who was clearly dressed to impress – and intimidate. And to increase this sense of menace he is shown accompanied by several intense looking greyhounds – one of the breeds of war dogs (along with wolfhounds, lurchers, pit bulls and gigantic mastiffs) that the Spanish brought with them from Europe.
(That image is not available online. The one attached to this email shows Esteban attired in a more traditional Conquistador outfit – something not in line with written descriptions. But he does have his greyhound dogs of war with him.)

As described in, these canines were “trained to fight and kill with the utmost ferocity,... having been used repeatedly in acts of genocide against the Indians of Hispaniola and Cuba...Unleashed in snarling, baying packs...they have great dragging jowls and fangs like daggers and blazing eyes of burning yellow that flash fire and shoot off sparks.” (There is more but we think you get the idea.)
The natives also had dogs. But they were not fighters – or even really pets as we might have today. They were small, hairless, creatures, much like the former “Spokes-dog” for the Taco Bell fast food franchise – who (not to be indelicate), had she been an Aztec pup likely would been found inside the Chalupa rather than peddling it.
Our grand-dog Taylor – a retired Alabama greyhound racer, nom de track “Shake It Off” ( a song by Taylor Swift, hence her less formal sobriquet) – is way more likely to be saying “Yo quiero [I want] my stomach rubbed,” than “bring it on!”
But an April 2010 New York Times article indicates that some of that Spanish warrior dog spirit may still exist in the rural, southern part of our new home state.
"'Greyhounds are calm, gentle dogs, but they're also pretty efficient killers,' [cattle rancher John] Hardzog said as he picked a clump of tawny coyote hair from one dog's teeth. 'This is exactly what they're born and bred to do. Yep, this is what they live for.
"'When you get the dogs running in a dead run after a coyote, now that's a sport,' Hardzog said before spitting snuff into a tiny gold spittoon." Being in non-rural, northern New Mexico we prefer golf.
Nonetheless these canines – be they “efficient killers” or total couch potatoes – at one time had a patron saint who is literally one of their own – Saint Guinefort, a 13th Century member of that breed.

The story goes that Guinefort the greyhound, the family pet, had been left at home to guard an otherwise unattended infant. When the baby’s father returned he found the room covered in blood – especially around the crib, next to which the dog was sitting.  In a fit of anger the father shot and killed the hound with an arrow – and then discovered the fresh, lifeless body of a snake beneath the cradle.  Overcome by guilt he buried the greyhound and planted a grove of trees around the grave in its honor. Local villagers soon began making pilgrimages to the gravesite, miraculous events happened, and "Saint Guinefort" became an object of worship among the townspeople.

But the Catholic Church never formally canonized the dog. And eventually Etienne de Bourbon, an Inquisitor, had the dog "disinterred and the sacred wood cut down and burnt, along with the remains of the dog." Guinefort was declared a heretic.
It didn't work. Up until the 1940's pilgrims continued to visit the site, praying for the protection of their children, and nourishing their own spirituality.
So we have sainthood by popular demand for a loyal hound. While the Moroccan slave who paved the way for the Spanish settlement of New Mexico is remembered as a black monster katsina dancer by the tribal group that ended his life – but nowhere else.
The more we study the past the more we realize that Jack Webb’s television creation Sgt. Joe Friday was wrong, It is not “just the facts ma’am.” But also what those that were there, and their successors, chose to make of them.
And no we are not changing Taylor’s inheritance. As author Tad Williams puts it, “Whatever my ancestors did to you, none of them consulted me.”

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Nineteen Pueblos

Sorry Connecticut – this could be partially our fault.  We moved out here to Santa Fe in 2017 and the UConn Women were eliminated in the semi's of that season's NCAA Tournament.  And now they have lost their first non-tournament game since 2014.  If you see Coach Geno please let him know that we still love him and that we have a guest room should he want to stop by and re-connect with our game-winning mojo.  We might even be able to rustle up a green chile cheeseburger or two for him. 

Meanwhile the Lady Lobos of the University of New Mexico, with whom we we have a slightly unusual personal connection, are twelve and one – including a victory in ABQ over the University of Hartford (at whose "Alternative Public Radio" station we had volunteered.)   In 2004 we anticipated that we might need to also develop an allegiance to a local NM women's basketball team.  So we took advantage of an opportunity to renew our wedding vows on Valentine's Day during halftime of a Lady Lo's game along with twenty other couples and 15,000 cheering fans at "The Pit".  Attached is a picture of us with our wedding party – bridesmaid "Lobo Lucy" and best wolf "Lobo Louie" – after the ceremony.  (Rebecca was not able to attend.)

At the health club the other day Jim was eavesdropping on a conversation between a Physical Therapy Trainer and his client.

PTT: “May family is coming to visit for Christmas and I don’t know what to do with them.”

C: “Why don’t you go to see the Indian dances at one of the Pueblos?  I think there are some at the Okay Whatever-It-Is.  Things were so much easier before they started using those Indian names.”             

There are in fact nineteen Pueblo Tribal Nations in New Mexico: Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, Isleta, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, Zuni – and Ohkay Owingeh, which had been re-entitled San Juan Pueblo in 1598 by Juan de Onate during the formal Spanish settling of Nuevo Mexico, but now goes by its traditional pre-colonial name

Each Pueblo is its own community of related people with similar spiritual beliefs and is its own sovereign government.   Some use their “Indian” name (full, Anglicized or abbreviated) – others go by the identifier given them by the Spanish Catholics.  Sandia Pueblo sits at the foot of its eponymous mountains. Laguna (Spanish for lake) is located alongside a man-made body of water – a different type of “rez.”  The town of Taos ("place of red willows") is named after the Pueblo.  Others we have not been able to decipher. 
Populations sizes range from 11,000 at Santa Clara to just over 600 in Santa Ana – and the land sizes run from the Zuni’s 588,000 acres to Okhay Owingeh’s and Pojoaque’s 12,000.  Each Pueblo speaks one six of different languages – Jemez, Keres, Tewa, Tiwa Picurus, Zia, and Zuni.  (Full details at the bottom.)

During the Spanish Colonization in the 1500s there were at least ten distinct Native American language families in and around New Mexico – Hopi, Zuni, Keres (Western and Eastern), Kiowa, Towa, Tewa, Tiwa  (Southern and Northern), Apachean, and Piro.  This set had evolved from the four families and six languages that existed during the period prior to 1 A.D. 

Over time the communities’ vocabularies became less similar.  Which could have made the Native American’s collaborative eviction of the Spanish during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt virtually impossible – except for one thing.
The uprising was planned and coordinated by Tiwa-speaking Popay and his confederates at Taos Pueblo. 

As describes it, “Runners were dispatched to all the Pueblos carrying knotted cords which signified the number of days remaining until the appointed day. Each morning the Pueblo leadership untied one knot from the cord; when the last knot was untied, it was the signal for them to rise in unison. 

“[At the prearranged time] each Pueblo was to raze its mission church, then kill the resident priest and neighboring Spanish settlers. Once the outlying Spanish settlements were destroyed, the Pueblo forces would converge on the isolated capital [of Santa Fe].

“The plan demanded the unprecedented cooperation and participation of all of New Mexico's Pueblos. It would be an extraordinary accomplishment considering the cultural and linguistic differences among the various Pueblos. Ironically, the very people they sought to overthrow may have provided the Pueblos with the instrument that helped them overcome this problem – by 1680 nearly all the Pueblos spoke Spanish.”

But the Spanish returned twelve years later to re-conquer New Mexico, followed in governance by the Mexicans and then the Americans – each in turn wresting the land from its prior owner.  And the Pueblo struggles with their overlords shifted to being less on the battlefields and more in the courts.

As the Santa Fe New Mexican put it in their 2015 review of the book Four Square Leagues: Pueblo Indian Land in New Mexico, “Over more than 400 years, New Mexico pueblos have fought, sued, purchased, negotiated, and bartered for their land under Spanish, Mexican, and American governments…the book chronicles the ways in which pueblos have lost and gained land over the centuries. …[and explains] the origins of the ‘pueblo league’ – a [17th and 18th century] way of measuring pueblo land for land-grant purposes. The pueblo league encompassed 4 leagues (roughly 5 square miles) emanating in each cardinal direction from a pueblo’s central church.”

U.S. Federal Law has for the most part honored the land agreements pueblos had with the preceding Spanish and Mexican governments – ironically unlike how it observed the treaties that other tribes signed directly with the American government.  “Though it has required constant vigilance by the pueblos, the pueblo league [method of measuring property] has also given the pueblos a history vastly different from that of other U.S. tribes or what the writers call a ‘sad tale of treaties broken, homelands lost, and forced migration to federally designated reservations.’”

The Pueblo Indians hold their religious beliefs and rituals very privately.  The “dances” are not performances or proselytizing events, but rather religious ceremonies that they allow the public to witness.   No explanations are provided and no photos are allowed.   This is perhaps an effort to prevent something like what many Puebloans feel happened to the Zia Sun symbol.   According to New Mexico magazine, the image, which appeared on a sacred pot that mysteriously disappeared from the tribe’s Fire Society, showed up thirty-three years later in 1920 – modified and misinterpreted – as the first-place entry in a competition to design the New Mexican state flag.

We are certain that the victorious pennant designers felt they were honoring, rather than disrespecting, the Zia culture.  But apparently they never asked the Pueblo People.  Nor did they seek any explanation for the meaning their chosen symbol.  Currently the Zia are pursuing legal methods to curtail and/or control other (mostly commercial uses) of the pattern. 

The contest winners did however get the name of the Pueblo right.

Tabular display of information about the New Mexican Pueblos:
PuebloTraditional NameLanguage  Population         Acres
Jemez Pueblo WalatowaJemez 1,81589,619
Acoma PuebloHaak’uKeres 3,011378,262
Cochiti Pueblo KO-TYITKeres 1,72750,681
Laguna Pueblo Ka'waikaKeres 4,043495,442
San Felipe Pueblo KatishtyaKeres 3,53648,929
Santa Ana Pueblo TAMAYAKeres 621           — 
Santo DomingoKewaKeres 

Nambe Pueblo Nambe O-Ween-GeTewa1,61119,093
Ohkay Owingeh Ohkay OwingehTewa6,30912,236
Pojoaque Pueblo PO-SUWAE-GEHTewa3,31612,004
San Ildefonso Po-woh-ge-oweengeTewa1,75228,179
Santa Clara Pueblo Kha'p'oo OwingeTewa11,02153,437
Tesuque Pueblo TET-SUGEHTewa841           — 
Picuris Pueblo Pe’ewiTiwa1,88615,034
Pueblo of Isleta Tue-ITiwa3,400301,102
Sandia Pueblo NA-FIATTiwa 4,96522,890
Taos Pueblo Tuah-TahTiwa 4,38496,106
Zia Pueblo Tsi-yaZia737121,613
Zuni PuebloSHE-WE-NAZuni 7,891588,093

Development of Speech Communities 
New “speech communities” were formed when speakers of a single language become geographically separated and over time developed their own dialect and expanded their language as they experienced new locations and created new technologies – i.e. new things require new words.  When communities interacted with each other, new “words and things” were absorbed into each other’s knowledge base.  The attached diagram from the “Southwestern Culture History” course we took at the Office of Archaeological Studies shows one example.

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