10. How to Punish the Enemy and Prevent the Ruin of Sonora


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I do not doubt that the enemies who are destroying and annihilating this province are a punishment from God and a scourge from His merciful hand, for such are the teachings in innumerable instances in the Sacred Scriptures as well as in ecclesiastical and secular histories. Consequently, the first and principal remedy is to appeal to Him with true penitence and fervent prayers. However, I am of the opinion that in addition we should employ the means which prudence, experience, and military art dictate. We have five presidios and many Spaniards and loyal Indian allies. Therefore, we should not be content with the first course only and expect the scourge to be lifted through miracles. That would be tempting God because His Divine Majesty wishes that effect should follow cause in the ordinary course of events. Thus, our obligation should be to pray to God and use our hands as the magnificent heroes, our ancestors, did when they undertook to throw off the Moorish yoke and conquer the vast empires of both Indies which, for the good of millions of souls, our great sovereign Charles III has under his rule. May God save him and increase his dominions even unto the confines of this New World. And may He lavish on his head laurel wreaths for the glory and triumph of the Holy Catholic faith. For in defense of this faith, Charles III has used his victorious armies with vigor so worthy of his Catholic heart.

Coming now to the subject of this section, I shall speak first of the Seris. It seems to me after what has been stated in chapter iv, section three, and chapter ix, sections one and two, the only remedy is to remove the Seris from our midst so completely that not a single one remains in this section of the country. They are so blood-thirsty that


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so long as the seed remains, the evil cannot be rooted out. And if they are to be deported, let it be to a distant land separated from this realm by a wide sea, wider than the Gulf of California isolated in all directions, for if they are left on the continent, they are sure to come back. They have been trained from childhood to remember and describe places, not by the right or left hand or in relation to other places, but by the direction of the winds. Take an Indian into any depths blindfolded, be it mines, dungeons, or intricate labyrinths, and turn him around a thousand times, he will still be able to tell toward what wind or direction he is facing as if he were a living compass. Thus, he will know how to set out and take the direction toward his country so long as there is no large sea in between. But he will undertake to cross a short stretch of water on a raft. The making and handling of rafts is an art in which the Seri is remarkably dexterous.

The same may be said of their confederates, the Pimas, for there is as little hope of converting them to the faith as there is of converting the Seris. For the past eleven years they have returned to their former wild and barbarous life and committed the same and even worse crimes than the Seris. Because they are delinquents, apostates, incorrigible, and obstinately harmful to the Crown and the public, they should be deported or made to serve as oarsmen in the Royal galleys. If this were done, they should have no grievance, and the expense incurred for their transportation would be more than offset by the benefit to the rich mining settlements, pearl fisheries, haciendas, and estancias which are now abandoned because of their hostilities. The land offers many advantages for the breeding of livestock, but because of the Pima menace, livestock, especially horses, is scarce in this province. Now they must be brought from distant places.

With regard to controlling and humbling the arrogance of the Apache, the boldest enemy of Sonora, if the Crown does not provide greater numbers of soldiers, I am of the opinion that the few we have will do more harm than good on their occasional expeditions. All they accomplish in such forays is to kill a few aged Apaches, some youthful good-for-nothings, and bring back women and children as captives. And the soldiers are able to do this only occasionally, not always. Soon after such a raid, the Apaches take triple revenge, overrunning the province, committing murders and other atrocities, and taking a


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few unfortunate prisoners. We are at a disadvantage, because in order to carry out our excursions it is necessary to call out the Indian auxiliaries who make several journeys carrying provisions and searching for the hideouts of the enemy who is constantly on the move. Where there is no house to ransack nor any livestock to confiscate, but only an occasional deerskin to take, there is little hope of defraying the cost of the expedition. On the other hand, the Apaches go to settlements that are quite familiar to them and travel on roads they know well. They are able to prepare their ambushes and carry out their cruelties without fear, and they know they will find livestock and crops for their sustenance. So, unless we change our tactics, the enemy, having the advantage, will continue his raids indefinitely.

Knowing Sonora and taking into consideration all aspects of the problem, I am of the opinion, as are the more responsible and experienced citizens, that instead of expeditions into enemy territory, the borders along the frontier from one presidio to another should be patrolled, and when enemy tracks are found, they must be followed. The villages in the direction in which the enemy is moving must be alerted so that they can be prepared to offer resistance, or perhaps they will congregate at a given point a short distance from the pueblo where they will have provisions for the few days they will be out. This plan, though not acceptable to the commanders of the presidios, would be looked upon favorably by the residents and their Indian allies and would prevent the head of a patrol from ordering a return to the fort on the pretext that “it is not convenient” to resist. This has happened with disservice to the Crown, harm to the homeland, and deflation to the spirit of the inhabitants of this unhappy province. Besides leaving the auxiliaries utterly disgusted at seeing themselves abandoned, it leaves the enemy more arrogant than before.

This suggested plan is supported by the fact that the enemy makes short marches and travels slowly until they find a favorable opening to commit a few killings. They take some captives and livestock and then, in fear of the chase, hurry away. This could be prevented if the residents were alerted and their auxiliaries offered resistance at the moment the enemy tried to enter. Therefore, I believe that if this plan is followed, within one year the enemy would have no desire to come back and would set about finding another way to get along in his own


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territory. Then, Sonora being somewhat recovered, some thought could be given to converting the Apaches to Christianity or subjugating them by force.

May God our Lord enlighten the minds of those who can remedy so many evils so that they may take the necessary measures to maintain the faithful Indians within the fold. And may God our Lord free those faithful Indians from the attacks of so cruel an enemy, and in the enjoyment of peace, open the gates of the Catholic faith to the vast country of heathens for the greater glory of God and the everlasting memory and inestimable increase of the dominions of our Catholic Monarch.

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