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This webpage reproduces an article in
The Catholic Historical Review
Vol. 1 No. 2 (Apr. 1916), pp3‑18

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p3 The Lost Province of Quivira

Nebraska is located between the fortieth and forty-third parallels of latitude and the ninety-fifth and one-hundred-and-fourth meridians of west longitude, or between sacred and Kansas; and between the Missouri River and the eastern boundaries of Colorado and Wyoming. Whilst comparatively young among the States of the Union, its history reaches back to the days of Spanish conquest (1541), to a period within fifty years after the discovery of the New World by that sterling Catholic, Christopher Columbus. The name Nebraska, to designate this region, was used in the United States Congress as early as 1844 by the Hon. Stephen A. Douglass,º of Illinois, in his Bill "To establish the Territory of Nebraska." It was organized as a Territory on May 30, 1854, and as a State on March 1, 1867.1 The name itself is derived from the incorrect pronunciation of the Omaha Indian word Nibthaska (ni — water and bthaska — flat or shallow), which means The Flat or Shallow Water, by which name the Omahas called the Platte River.2 Who the original and first inhabitants of this region were, is still a mystery; but as far as we know now, the Skidi and Arikara nations, as early as the year 1400, were the first Indian tribes to dwell along the Platte and Loup Rivers and along the Missouri River in the northeast section of the State.3 It is also certain that the Kansas nation of northeast Kansas, whose territory extended from the Kansas River into southeastern Nebraska, as far north as the Big Nemaha River, migrated to this region from the mouth of the Osage River p4previous to the year 1541.4 They are mentioned as early as 1601 by the Spanish explorer Oñate.5 It appears that they were the third known tribe of Indians in the Nebraska region. The fourth tribe or nation to enter Nebraska were the Pawnees. They came in three divisions, namely, the Kit‑ke-ha‑ki or Republican Pawnees, the Chaui or Grand Pawnees, and the Pita-hau‑erat or Tapage (noisy) Pawnees; and as Dunbar says, they arrived sometime between the years 1620 and 1650,6 and dwelt along the Platte and Loup Valleys, where they formed a confederacy with the Skidi nation until 1876, when all were removed to the Indian Territory.

The next nation to occupy lands in Nebraska were the Otoes, who migrated from the headwaters of the Des Moines River to the Missouri River about the year 1700, and are shown on DeLisle's Map of 1718 as dwelling on the west side of it near the mouth of the Platte.7 They now reside in Indian Territory. After these came the Omahas, Iowas and Poncas. The exact date of their arrival in Nebraska is not yet known, but it seems to have occurred some time between the years 1760 and 1777, for we are certain that the Omahas were here in the latter year.8 The Iowas did not remain for any great period of time, not Poncas, who had separated from the Omahas, at the mouth of the White River in South Dakota, after wandering toward the Black Hills, returned and finally settled near the mouth of the Niobrara River, where they were discovered by the St. Louis trader, Jean Munier, in 1789.9 A part of this latter tribe as well as the Omahas still reside in Nebraska. In 1778 a remnant of the Missouri nation united there with the Otoes, until the removal of both tribes to the Indian Territory.10 In 1795 the Padoucahs, or Comanche nation, lived in western Nebraska on the north fork of the Platte p5River, but some years later they moved on towards the South.11 The Arapahoes, Kiowas, Cheyennes, Sioux and Winnebagoes arrived during the last century, and all again withdrew during its latter half, except the Winnebagoes, who have a small reservation near the Omahas in northeastern Nebraska.12 The Sac and Fox Reservation extends into southeastern Nebraska and the Santee and Oglalla Sioux occupy small strips of territory in northern Nebraska.13

The Catholic history of Nebraska, or — as it can now properly be called, Quivira, naturally begins with its first discovery and exploration by the Spaniards under General Francisco Vasquez Coronado in the year 1541.a Heretofore the ancient as well as the most modern geographers have never been able to locate correctly the famous Province of Quivira, which was visited by Coronado in 1541, because the different accounts that have come down to us of that famous journey, through apparent difficulties in the texts and through an arbitrary presumption of an astronomical error with consequent misinterpretation, have proved to be a puzzle to historians. Yet, when due consideration is given to the various statements of these different accounts, the solution of the puzzle becomes simple and natural and is, indeed, found in the documents themselves. The translations of these various chronicles, with the notes given by Mr. George Parker Winship, in the Part One of the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1892‑93), together with the acceptance of Bernalillo and Pecos as the ancient sites of Tiguex and Cicuye, have been made the basis for the following solution of the riddle.

The plain and explicit statements of the narrators have been taken at their historic worth, without any circumlocution and without doing any violence to the text. We have made two general divisions of the subject as follows:14

I. The Outward March and Return of the Army.

II. The Journey of Coronado to Quivira and Return.

p6 I. The Outward March and Return of the Army

1. From Tiguex to the Bridge

Coronado. — "I started from this province (Tiguex) on the twenty-third of April last." (1541) . . . (580)
"After nine days march, I reached some plains" . . . (580)

Castaneda. — "The army left Tiguex on the fifth of May and returned to Cicuye, which as I have said, is twenty-five marches, which means leagues, from there." . . . (503)
"Five days from here (Tiguex) he (Alvarado) came to Cicuye." . . . (491)
"The army started from Cicuye. . . . Proceeding toward the plains, which are all on the other side of the mountains after four days journey they came to a river with a large deep current which flowed down toward Cicuye, and they named this the Cicuye (Pecos) River . . . (504) They had to stop here to make a bridge. . . . It was finished in four days." . . . (504)

Relacion Del Suceso. — "They do not raise cotton, nor keep fowls (at Cicuye, or Pecos), because it is 15 leagues away from the river to the east toward the plains where the cows are." . . . (575) Alvarado . . . proceeded forward (from Cicuye) to these plains and at the borders of these he found a little river which flows to the southwest" . . . (576)

Jaramillo. — "Leaving this settlement (Tiguex) . . . we . . . in four days came to Cicuique. From there we came to another river, which the Spaniards named after Cicuique, in three days: if I remember rightly, it seems to me, that we went rather toward the northeast to reach this river where we crossed it." (587)

Postrera. — "Four days from this village (Cicuic) they came to a country as level as the sea, and in these plains . . . cows, that . . . are numberless" . . . (570)

From the above statements we are justified in drawing the following conclusions: that Coronado's date, April 23, 1541 (580), for the departure of the army from Tiguex (Bernalillo) is undoubtedly the correct one, as he wrote shortly after the events happened; and that the date given by Castaneda, who wrote at least twenty years later (470), is evidently a mistake. Castaneda gives the year as 1542 instead of 1541. That it was approximately twenty-five leagues (65 miles) from Tiguex to Pecos, or Cicuye (491‑503), and four days' march (504), or fifteen leagues (575) to the other side of the mountains, to the river called Cicuye, which flowed southwest; and since Castaneda erroneously thought the Spaniards went northeast from Cicuique (587), he naturally stated that it flowed down toward Cicuique. This Cicuique or Pecos River is a branch of the real Pecos River and p7is now known as the Gallinas River; where the army crossed it, is not far from its junction with the real Pecos River, or about forty miles southeast from the village of Pecos.15 Jaramillo's statement of four days from Tiguex and three days from Pecos to the river are evidently mistakes. The distance from Tiguex via Pecos to the river, where the Bridge was built, is therefore approximately forty leagues, or about one hundred and five miles. This journey occupied nine days, and consequently they arrived there on Monday, May 2, 1541, as Coronado relates. The average day's march was small on account of the rough country, and the direction taken from Pecos was southeast. The Bridge, or Crossing, was approximately about twenty-four miles north of the thirty-fifth parallel and about two miles east of the one hundred and fifth meridian.

2. From the Bridge to the Querechos

Coronado. — "After seventeen days march I came to a settlement of Indians who are called Querechos." . . . (580)

Castaneda. — "The Bridge was finished in four days . . . and as soon as it was done, the whole army and the animals crossed. After ten days more, they came to some settlements, of people, . . . called Querechos in that region. . . . They had seen the cows for two days . . . (504) It is 30 leagues from Cicuye to where the plains begin (526). It was more than 40 leagues from where we began to see the bulls to the place where we began to see cows" . . . (543)

Relacion Del Suceso. — "So he (Coronado) started with the whole army and proceeded 150 leagues, 100 to the east and 50 to the south (note says southeast) . . . (577)

Jaramillo. — "After crossing this (river) we turned more to the left hand, which would be more to the northeast, and began to enter the plains, where the cows are, although we did not find them for some four or five days, after which we began to come across bulls . . . and after going on in the same direction and meeting the bulls for two or three days we began to find . . . cows, yearlings and bulls altogether. We found Indians among these first cows, who were . . . called Querechos. . . . We went on for eight or ten days in the same direction along the streams which are among the cows." (587, 588)

It was nine marching days (forty leagues) from Tiguex to the Bridge. It is evident, therefore, that Coronado's seventeenth p8marching day was the eighth day after leaving the Bridge when he arrived at the first Querechos settlement. When we compare Castaneda's statement with that of Jaramillo's, we find that both of them practically agree with Coronado as to the eighth day, for while Castaneda says it was on the tenth day they came to the Querechos settlements, he evidently means the end of them, as he says they saw them for two days, and he also says that they saw the cows for two days before this. If we take Jaramillo's fifth day for meeting the bulls and his three days later for meeting the cows, we again have the eighth day; and he explicitly says that they met the Querechos with the first cows. Consequently, they all agree on the time and place of meeting the first Querecho settlement. Jaramillo makes the bulls and cows distant from each other only three days or fifteen leagues, while Castaneda says they more than forty leagues apart. This is evidently an error, since the army was only forty leagues from the Bridge when they first saw the cows and Querechos. Coronado makes the plains begin at the Bridge (580), while Castaneda says they begin thirty leagues from Cicuye or fifteen leagues beyond the Bridge; and Jaramillo says "after crossing the river . . . we . . . began to enter the plains" (587‑588). Here are two witnesses against one, so we must conclude that Castaneda is again in error.

Coronado had now marched from the Bridge for eight days or forty leagues when he came to the first Querechos settlement, Saturday, May 14, 1541. This was eighty leagues from Tiguex. This point of his journey is northeast of the Bridge and about twenty-one miles directly west from a point on the eastern boundary line of New Mexico, about thirty miles below the northern boundary of Texas.

3. From the Querechos to the Buffalo Ravine

Coronado. — "I travelled five days more as the guides wished to lead me, until I reached some plains" . . . (581)

Castaneda. — "For two days during which the army marched in the same direction as that in which they had come from the settlements, that is between north and east, but more toward the north, they saw other Querechos and . . . great numbers of cows. . . . Here Don Garcia broke his arm, and a Spaniard got lost. . . . The Turk said it was two days to Haya (Haxa). The general sent Capt. Diego Lopez with ten companions lightly equipped . . . to go at full speed toward the sunrise for two days to discover Haxa, and then return to meet the army p9which set out in the same direction next day (505). They (the army) came across so many animals . . . the advance guard killed a large number. . . . As these fled they trampled one another in their haste until they came to a ravine. So many of the animals fell into this that they filled it up, and the rest went across on top of them. The men on horseback fell in among the animals without noticing where they were going. . . . It seemed to the general that Diego Lopez ought to be on his way back, he sent six of his companions to follow up the banks of the little river, and as many more down the banks to look for traces of the horses (of the Lopez scouts), at the trails to and from the river. They were found by some Indians. . . . They got track of them a good league off. . . . They followed the river down to the camp, and . . . in the 20 leagues they had been over they had seen nothing but cows and the sky. (505).

Relacion Del Suceso. — "He . . . proceeded 150 leagues, 100 to the east and 50 to the south." (577)

Mota Padilla. — The note makes it five days to the first ravine seen. (504)

Coronado had now marched for twenty-two days, or one hundred leagues, from Tiguex, or thirteen days or sixty leagues, from the Bridge, or five days or twenty leagues, beyond the first Querechos village. The day's march was only four leagues during these five days, probably on account of doubts and suspicions in regard to the guides' stories, and also to give the Lopez scouts time to return before the army had advanced far. The plains mentioned by Coronado do not exclude the fact that there were ravines in them, as we learn from Castaneda. The latter also implies that the ravine or little river ran from north to south, or almost at a right angle with his course going east, and with that of the Lopez scouts returning west, so he sent his searching parties up and down the river. As to Castaneda's statement that Don Garcia broke his arm here, for which a different time and place is given in the Relacion Del Suceso (577), we must conclude that one or the other narrator is mistaken in respect to the time and place. It is well to remark here that the course of the journey had turned from the northeast to east at the end of the Querechos settlements, or ten days' march from the Bridge. It again changes three days later at the one-hundredth league camp, or Buffalo Ravine, from east to southeast. The end of the Querechos villages and the point where the Lopez scouts were sent east will be on the one-hundred-and‑third meridian, or on the eastern boundary line of New Mexico, about twenty-four miles below the northern boundary p10line of Texas. From this point the army went east for three days or twelve leagues, or about thirty-one miles, to this small stream or ravine in Texas, which we have called the Buffalo Ravine.

4. From the Buffalo Ravine to the Second or Teyas Ravine

Coronado. — "And while we were lost in these plains, some horsemen, who went off to hunt cows, fell in with some Indians . . . who are called Teyas." (581)

Castaneda. — "The general sent Don Rodrigo Maldonado . . . forward from here he travelled for four days and reached a large ravine . . . in the bottom of which he found a large settlement. . . . He sent some of his companions to guide the army to that place, so that they should not get lost" . . . (505)
While . . . resting in this ravine . . . a tempest came up one afternoon, with a very high wind and hail, and . . . a great quantity of hailstones, as big as bowls or bigger, fell as thick as raindrops." . . . (506)

Jaramillo. — "We went for eight days in the same direction along those streams which are among the cows." . . . (588)

Mota Padilla. — Note gives Ascension Day, 1541, as the date of the hailstorm . . . (506)

The Indians called Teyas by Coronado are evidently the same ones found by Maldonado, after a four days' march, in the second ravine. Jaramillo's statement implies that they followed the direction of the little river for a day or two at least; that is, they were going toward the south or southeast. Castaneda shows that the army also reached this ravine, and that there they experienced a severe hailstorm, which (according to Mota Padilla) occurred on Ascension Day, or Thursday, May 26, 1541.16 While it is possible that there were two hailstorms, the one Castaneda refers to certainly took place in a ravine; and if it occurred in this second ravine, then it happened on Monday, May 23, 1541, and Mota Padilla's date is wrong. If it really occurred on Ascension Day, then it took place in some ravine among the settlements of Cona, along the Olcot Fork of the Red River, and Castaneda errs as to its time and place. The army had now reached the Teyas Ravine on the Canadian River on Monday, May 23, 1541, and it was thirty days distant, or twenty-six days' march from Tiguex, or seventeen days' march from the Bridge. The total distance from Tiguex was about one hundred and twenty-four p11leagues, or three hundred and twenty-six miles. They had gone twenty-four leagues or about sixty-three miles southeast from the one-hundredth league camp in the Buffalo Ravine. This last camp was on the Canadian River near the center of Potter County, Texas.

5. From the Texas Ravine to the Third or Final Ravine

Coronado. — "I obtained from these (Teyas) an account of the country, where the guides were taking me, which was not like what they had told me. . . . Here the guides confessed to me, that they had not told the truth . . . and because they (Teyas) made it out more than forty days' journey from where I fell in with the Teyas, to the country where the guides were taking me . . . It seemed best to me . . . to go forward (i.e., north) with only thirty horsemen." . . . (581)

Castaneda. — "From here, the general sent out to explore the country, and they found another settlement four days from there. . . . These village settlements extended for three days. This was called Cona. Some Teyas, as the people are called, went with the army from here and travelled as far as the end of the other settlements . . . and then they gave them guides to proceed to a large ravine where the army was. . . . They . . . did not receive the same statements from these as they had from the others. These said that Quivira was toward the north, and that we would not find any good road thither. . . . The ravine which the army had now reached was a league wide from one side to the other, with a little bit of a river at the bottom. . . . The army rested several days in this ravine and explored the country. Up to this point they had made thirty-seven days marches, travelling six or seven leagues a day. . . . They found it was two hundred and fifty leagues to the settlements. When the general . . . realized this and saw that they had been deceived by the Turk, heretofore . . . he called the captains and ensigns together to decide on what they thought ought to be done. They all agreed that the general should go in search of Quivira with thirty horsemen . . . and that Don Tristan de Arellano should go back to Tiguex, with all the army. (507‑508) In traversing two hundred and fifty leagues the other mountain range was not seen, nor a hill nor a hillock which was three times as high as a man . . ." (527)

Jaramillo. — "From this settlement of the Querechos he led us off more to the east . . . I believe we had been traveling twenty days or more in this direction, at the end of which we found another settlement of Indians. . . . At this settlement the general, seeing our difficulties, ordered the captains and the persons whose advice he was accustomed to follow, to assemble so that we might discuss with him what was best for all. We all went forward one day, to a stream which was down in a ravine in the midst of good meadows to agree on who should go ahead and how the rest should return." (588‑589)

p12 Relacion Del Suceso. — "He . . . proceeded one hundred and fifty leagues, one hundred to the east, and fifty to the south . . . and one confessed that what the Indian said was a lie, except that there was a province which was called Quivira . . ." (577)

The army moved on in a southeasterly direction for four more days or twenty-four leagues, to the end of the Teyas settlement of Cona, along or through which they had passed for three days, probably camping on the same creek or ravine where these settlements were, or Olcot Fork of the Red River. Here Coronado was convinced that Quivira was more than forty days' journey to the north, or opposite to the direction in which he was going. After holding a council here, they went forward one day's march to the Final Ravine on the Red River, in Texas. Jaramillo's twenty days or more in this direction evidently means the direction out from the Bridge; for they had, in fact, marched just twenty-one days from the Bridge to the end of the Teyas settlement of Cona, where the captains were ordered to assemble for a council. Jaramillo alone mentions the march of one day, or the remaining two leagues or five miles, to the stream which was down in a ravine where the real division of the army took place. The army arrived in this ravine on Saturday, May 28, 1541. This was exactly twenty-two marching days from the Bridge. When we add the nine marching days from Tiguex to the Bridge, we have a total of thirty-one marching days for the one hundred and fifty leagues. The four days spent at the Bridge would bring the total time consumed on this outward journey up to thirty-five days; this exactly corresponds with Coronado's statement (581‑582). Castaneda's thirty-seven days undoubtedly means up to the time Coronado left them for Quivira (May 31, 1541). The two days were, perhaps, used in making preparations for that journey. His two hundred and fifty leagues to the settlements is either a slip of his pen or the mistake of a copyist, or he evidently includes the whole distance out and back to the Bridge, as he does when he says: "In traversing two hundred and fifty leagues the other mountain chain was not seen (527)." Otherwise it is an error, for we have shown that there were only thirty-one marching days and even these at seven leagues a day would make only two hundred and seventeen leagues. His six or seven leagues a day, therefore, must necessarily refer to the homeward march of the army. This final ravine p13or camp was distant, by the way they came, just one hundred and fifty leagues, or about three hundred and ninety-five miles from Tiguex, and was located in Texas on the Red River at the point where the one‑hundred-and‑first meridian crosses it. It must be understood, of course, that we cannot claim these routes and camps to be the exact and identical spots Coronado traversed; they are simply approximations, and the exact route may be a few miles on either side of it.

6. The Army's Homeward March

Castaneda. — "They all agreed . . . that Don Tristan de Arellano should go back to Tiguex with all the army. When the men in the army learned of this decision, they begged their general not to leave them . . . but declared that they all wanted to die with him and did not want to go back. This did not do any good although the general agreed to send messengers to them within eight days, saying whether it was best for them to follow him or not. (508) The guides ran away during the first few days and Diego Lopez had to return to the army for guides, bringing orders for the army to return to Tiguex to find food and wait there for the general. The army still had some hope that the general would send for them, and sent two horsemen, lightly equipped and riding post, to repeat their petition. . . . The army waited for its messengers and spent a fortnight here, prepared jerked beef to take with them. . . . The messengers whom the army had sent to the general returned . . . and as they brought no news except what the alderman had delivered, the army left the ravine and returned to the Teyas . . . who led them back by a more direct road. (509) In this way they covered in twenty-five days, what had taken them thirty-seven days in going, besides stopping to hunt cows on the way. (510) On its return the army reached the Cicuye River more than thirty leagues below there, I mean below the bridge they had made when they crossed it, and they followed it up to that place . . . (510) As I said the army followed the river up as far as Cicuye. . . . From there they went on to Tiguex . . . (510) Don Tristan de Arellano reached Tiguex about the middle of July, in the year (15) '42" . . . (510)

Relacion Del Suceso. — "Don T. de Arellano returned to the river with the army. On this journey they had a very hard time, because almost all of them had nothing to eat except meat, and many suffered on this account." (577)

The army was to wait for one week at the final ravine after Coronado left, for his decision about following him. The guides, however, it seems, deserted Coronado on his third day out (June 2), at the end of eighteen leagues. His messenger, Diego p14Lopez, returned with the decision and for new guides on June 4. Then the two special messengers of the army started out with him the next day and overtook Coronado on June 9, when he had reached his sixtieth league. The special messengers made this same distance in five days at twelve leagues a day. They returned, however, at six leagues a day, in ten days reaching the army again on June 19, thus accounting for the two weeks the army waited for them. On June 20, the homeward march of twenty-five days began. This would make their arrival at Tiguex occur on July 14, which practically agrees with the date of Castaneda (510). The army went back two leagues to the Teyas at Cona, then marched in a southwesterly direction below the Red River for sixty-eight leagues to about Old Fort Sumner on the Pecos River, and then about thirty-two leagues up to the Bridge. The return trip to the Bridge was about one hundred and two leagues, and to Tiguex about one hundred and forty-two, or about eight leagues less than the outward one.

II. Journey to Quivira and Return

A. From the Red River to Quivira

Coronado. — "With only thirty horsemen . . . I traveled forty-two days, after I left the force . . . (581)
After having journeyed across these deserts seventy-seven days I arrived at the province they call Quivira, to which the guides were conducting me . . . (582) The province of Quivira is nine hundred and fifty leagues from Mexico. Where I reached it, it is in the fortieth degree" (582)

Castaneda. — "The general . . . reached Quivira, which took forty-eight days' marching on account of the great detour they had made toward Florida . . . (509) Quivira is to the west of those ravines in the midst of the country, somewhat nearer the mountains towards the sea, for the country is level as far as Quivira, and there they began to see some mountain chains." (528)

Relacion Del Suceso. — (Coronado), "set out across these plains in search of Quivira . . . and after proceeding many days by the needle (i.e., to the north) it pleased God that after thirty days' march we found the river Quivira which is 30 leagues below the settlement." (577) In going by the way we went, we traveled 330 leagues, and it is not more than 200 by that by which we returned. Quivira is in the fortieth degree and the river (Tiguex) in the thirty-sixth . . ." (578)

Jaramillo. — "We pursued our way, the direction all the time after this being toward the north, for more than thirty days' march, although not long marches, not having to go without water on any one of them, and among p15cows all the time . . . so that on St. Peter and Paul's day (June 29) we reached a river which we found to be there below Quivira. When we reached the said river the Indian recognized it and said that was it, and that it was below the settlements . . ." (590)

The author of the Suceso says that Quivira was three hundred and thirty leagues from Tiguex, in going the way we went. Now, since they went one hundred and fifty leagues to the Red River, this would leave one hundred and eighty leagues as the distance travelled north by the needle. To cover this distance at six leagues a day would require just thirty days, which coincides exactly with the time given both by Jaramillo and the Suceso. These one hundred and eighty leagues would make about four hundred and seventy-three miles, and if we go straight north on the one‑hundred-and‑first meridian from the Red River in Texas to the Platte River in Nebraska, we find the distance to be about four hundred and sixty miles, or one hundred and seventy-five leagues. This would leave five leagues or thirteen miles as a margin in the whole distance for deviations and detours in the route, for water, and for delays at the many ravines and gullies. In regard to the latitude of forty degrees given both by Coronado and the author of the Suceso, they certainly knew what they were speaking about, as they evidently took precautions to avoid making any mistake.

If an astronomical observation was made in Quivira, it is not recorded; and it is more probable that the calculation was made by dividing the total number of leagues traveled north (180) by the number of leagues in a degree of latitude (about 26), which gave them over six degrees. Now, they knew that they had gone over thirty leagues or a part of two degrees below the latitude of the river (36), or Tiguex, which would consequently take them into the thirty-fourth degree, and thus adding the six degrees to this would make them very sure of having arrived in the fortieth degree. Therefore, since the correct latitude of Tiguex or Bernalillo is in the thirty-fifth degree, we know now with certainty that Coronado in reality arrived in Nebraska, and that it was in the forty-first degree that he found Quivira. His estimated distance from Mexico is, of course, in accordance with the route he traveled himself. Castaneda's forty-eight days is probably based upon the time of the return trip; that is, forty days from p16Quivira to the Bridge and eight days from there to Tiguex; otherwise it is an error. Castaneda's remarks about the ravines in the midst of the country refer to the great valleys of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers; his location of Quivira, therefore, is correct. His mountain chains are those parts of the Rocky Mountain chain they saw on their return trip. As thirty days of Coronado's forty-two were employed in reaching the Platte River, the remaining twelve were used in reaching the end of Quivira.

B. The Province of Quivira

Coronado. — "There are not more than twenty-five villages of straw houses there. I remained twenty-five days in this province of Quivira so as to see and explore the country and also to find out whether there was anything beyond . . ." (582‑583)

Castaneda. — "There are other thickly settled provinces around it containing large numbers of men. They killed the friar because he wanted to go to the province of the Guas, who were their enemies. The great river of the Holy Spirit (Espiritu Santo) . . . flows through this country. It passes through a province called Arache. . . . The sources were not visited, because . . . it comes from a very distant country in the mountains of the South sea . . ." (529)

Relacion Del Suceso. — "These (houses) are of straw . . . in some villages there are as many as 200 houses; they have corn, and beans and melons . . . (577) (Coronado) went 25 leagues through these settlements to where he obtained an account of what was beyond, and they said that the plains came to an end, and down the river there are people who do not plant, but live wholly by hunting. (577) They also gave an account of two other large villages . . . with straw houses at Tareque, and at Arae, some of straw and some of skins." (577)

Jaramillo. — "We crossed it (The river) there, and went up the other side on the north, the direction turning toward the northeast, and after . . . three days we found some Indians . . . going hunting . . . their village was about three or four days still farther away from us . . . we proceeded . . . until we reached the settlements, which we found along good river bottoms, although without much water, and good streams which flow into another larger than the one I have mentioned. There were if I recall correctly six or seven settlements at quite a distance from one another, among which we travelled four or five days, since it was understood to be uninhabited between one stream and another. We reached . . . the end of Quivira. . . . Here there was a river with more water and more inhabitants than the others . . . beyond was Harahey . . . the same sort of a place . . ." (590)

The twelve days, or seventy-two leagues, required to go to the end of the Quivira settlement would mean about one hundred and p17ninety miles. This distance would bring them to the junction of Beaver Creek with the Loup or Wolf River near the boundary line of Platte and Nance Counties. This locality was a part of the last Pawnee Reservation in Nebraska. They found the first village thirty leagues beyond the crossing, in the vicinity of Georgetown, Custer County, on the South Fork of the Loup River. Proceeding from there in a northeasterly direction, they would cross all the large tributaries of the Loup River which were the favorite village sites of the Pawnee Confederacy. All the descriptions given of Quivira apply so perfectly to this region that it is not necessary to repeat them. The twenty-five leagues through these settlements means the distance north or northeast to the Elkhorn River, beyond which was indeed the real Province of Arache, Tareque or Harahey, which means nothing else than the Country of the Ariki‑ra, or Horn people, so called because of their peculiar head dressing. To the southeast of Quivira, or down the river, were the Guas, or Province of Arae (evidently a misprint for Guas), who are none other than the Kansas Indians, later on called Quans and Kaws by the French. The meaning of the word Quivira and its derivation now become plain and simple, for it is nothing else than the Spanish pronunciation of the name of this Indian nation, the Skidi‑ra, or Wolf people. Coronado arrived here on July 11, 1541, the forty-second day from the Red River and the twelfth from the Platte crossing. He remained here until August 6, when the return trip began. It required twelve days to reach the crossing; they arrived there on August 17, 1541. On this return trip a cross was raised and an inscription, made with a chisel, was placed at the foot of it. I am inclined to believe that this inscription was cut on a stone that is located somewhere within a radius of fifty miles around St. Paul, Nebraska.

C. From Quivira to Tiguex

Castaneda. — "It took him forty days to return traveling lightly equipped." (512)

Relacion Del Suceso. — "We went back by a more direct route . . . it is not more than 200 (leagues) by that which we returned. (578)

Jaramillo. — "We took five or six Indians from these villages to lead and guide us to the flat roof houses. They brought us back by the same road as far as . . . a river called St. Peter and Paul's (the Platte), and here we left that (road) by which we had come, and taking the right hand p18(i.e., toward the west) they led us along by watering places. . . . At last we came to . . . where I said we found the first settlement (of Querechos) where the Turk led us astray from the route we should have followed. . . . We reached Tiguex . . . (591‑592) If I remember rightly, it was after the middle of August, and because there was little to winter there for . . . it seemed to us all that his grace ought to go back." (590)

Leaving the Platte River, near the one‑hundred-and‑first meridian, on Thursday, August 18, they went southwest to the junction of the Purgatoire and Arkansas rivers in Colorado, a distance of two hundred and forty miles, or ninety-two leagues, from there, still going southwest to the first Querechos village, was about one hundred and thirty-two miles, or fifty leagues, and from there to the Bridge was forty leagues, a total of one hundred and eighty-two leagues. Adding the fifteen leagues to Pecos gives one hundred and ninety-seven leagues, the distance from Quivira to the flat roof houses, which agrees with the statement of the Suceso.

Thus we have solved the famous Quivira puzzle.

Having shown that Nebraska is the real land of Quivira and Harahey, we know now that the first footprints made there by white men were those of Spanish Catholics, under the leadership of Coronado, in July and August, 1541. These visitors were accompanied by a Franciscan priest, Father Juan de Padilla, who, according to the Catholic custom, erected a large cross, the emblem of Christianity and Salvation, in one of the villages. He most certainly celebrated Holy Mass, if not every day, at least on the seven Sundays that were spent there, besides the feasts of Saint James (July 25), the Patron of Spain, and that of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (August 15). Thus the first Christian services held in Nebraska were those of the Catholic Church. Father Padilla returned to Quivira with several companions in the spring of 1542, and began his missionary work there. While on his way later to visit the Guas, or Kansas Indians, he was murdered by some roaming Indians, and thus Nebraska's fertile plains were baptized with the life-blood of America's first Christian Martyr.

Rev. Michael A. Shine,

Nebraska Historical Society


The Author's Notes:

1 Morton, History of Nebraska, Vol. I, p135; Johnson, History of Nebraska, pp41‑48.

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2 Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (Vol. VI, p327).

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3 Morton, o. c., pp1‑33. Magazine of American History, Vol. V, p321; Twenty-seventh Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, pp74‑75.

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4 Eighteenth Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, p708, Map No. 41; Morton, o. c., Vol. I, p41 (map).

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5 Handbook of American Indians, Vol. I, p653.

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6 Handbook of American Indians, Vol. II, p214; Kansas Historical Collections, Vol. X, p69, note.

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7 Louisiana Hist. Coll., Vol. I, p71; Margry Papers, Vol. VI, p78; South Dakota Hist. Coll., Vol. II, pp44‑50.

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8 Wisconsin Hist. Coll., Vol. XVIII, pp360‑362.

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9 Twenty-seventh Report, Bureau of American Ethnology, pp49, 79, 85; Missouri Hist. Soc. Coll. (St. Louis), Vol. IV, p9.

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10 Nebraska Hist. Coll., Vol. XV, p8.

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11 Missouri Hist. Soc. Coll. (St. Louis), Vol. IV, p31.

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12 Morton, o. c., Vol. I, pp38, 39.

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13 Ibid., p40.

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14 In the subdivisions of each part the necessary portion of the text is given, followed by our deductions or conclusions, together with the line of march, and the points arrived at. The three figures found after a statement refer to the page in the Fourteenth Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1892‑93).

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15 Bandelier, Historical Introduction (Arch. Inst. of America), American Series, Vol. I, p21; Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lieut. Whipple's Route, Reports and Railroad Surveys, 1853‑4, Vol. III, Geological Map.

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16 Rev. Wm. F. Rigge, S. J., Dates of Easter for 2,000 years. Omaha, 1898.


Thayer's Note:

a A more readable and connected account of the Spanish expedition to Quivira is given by Herbert E. Bolton in The Spanish Borderlands, pp95‑105. Bolton, like Bourne (Spain in America, pp172‑173), puts Quivira somewhere in today's State of Kansas.


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