TUCSON, ARIZONA, is one of those Southwestern cities where Native Americans pioneered habitation of the metropolitan site. A European settlement grew up around an original nucleus of native habitation. Within the sprawling 20th century city lies an area of a few blocks that spawned the whole colossus. This native site has been continuously occupied by man for an unknown number of centuries extending far back into prehistoric times.
This book examines the dynamics of ethnic diversification within the city of Tucson, the largest urban settlement within the Gadsden Purchase area which the United States acquired from Mexico in 1853. It analyzes those dynamics during the period of Spanish colonial rule in Tucson because the foundations of its 20th century ethnic diversity were laid then.
Tucson possesses some distinctive advantages as a laboratory for studying inter-ethnic relations, not because it is completely representative of U.S. cities, but because it is not typical. Tucson contained in 1970 the tenth largest urban Native American population in the United States, whereas it was only the fifty-third largest city.1 Moreover, Tucson held the second highest proportion of Native Americans among the fifteen cities with over 5,000 such residents. Only Tulsa, Oklahoma, had a higher percentage.2 (See Table 1, Appendix.)
Another advantage Tucson holds as a laboratory of inter-ethnic relations is that its Spanish-ancestry population constitutes a major urban component. At mid-century, Pima County, in which Tucson is located, ranked seventeenth in number of persons with Spanish surnames among 192 Southwestern counties with 1,000 or more such individuals. Seven California counties held more such persons, as did seven counties in Texas, one other in Arizona and only one in New Mexico.3 (See Table 2, Appendix.)
Nonetheless, little has been published about the Spanish history of Arizona and Pima county's metropolis, Tucson, compared to the numerous studies of other southwestern areas. Perhaps because Spanish colonization of the upper valley of the Río Bravo del Norte occurred at an earlier date than Spanish colonization at Tucson, historians have long devoted especially extensive attention to colonial settlement and rule in New Mexico. Perhaps residual pride of New Mexicans in their Spanish heritage helped to motivate interest in that state's colonial antecedents. Whatever the causes, the intellectual community has already made the history of Spanish New Mexico abundantly available.4 As a consequence, numerous intellectual treatments of contemporary Spanish-American ethnic minority problems and conditions rely very heavily on New Mexican historic data and interpretations. One summary of the Spanish-speaking groups in the United States,5 for example, devotes one chapter to New Mexican Hispanos, three to Mexican-Americans
Farther east, the bitterness of local inter-ethnic relations between Anglo-Americans, Spanish-Americans and Mexican-Americans in Texas early stimulated studies by members of the intellectual community,6 Social scientists have focused on consequences rather than causes in studying some of the most complex and emotional inter-ethnic relations in the United States.7
To the west of Tucson, the very rapid U.S. conquest of California followed by quick settlement by overwhelming numbers of U.S. citizens soon allowed Californians to romanticize that state's colonial heritage. Rather large numbers of books and articles extolling California's colonial Spanish and Mexican heritage have long rolled off the art presses of California as well as those of major national publishers.8 A few polemicists and social scientists have analyzed such dimensions of contemporary California as health-service delivery to Mexican-Americans.9
Between coastal California, with its picturesque Spanish missions and Mexican ranchos, and mountainous Spanish-American villages irrigating subsistence farms in the headwaters of tributaries of the Río Grande, Arizona simply has not yet received adequate attention as a frontier of Spanish colonial settlement.10
Arizona's largest ethnic minority is that either speaking Spanish or descended from Spanish-speaking ancestors. Even at mid-century, persons with Spanish surnames numbered 128,580 in Arizona.11 Native Americans living in Arizona give it the largest Indian population of any state, yet they constitute only the second largest ethnic minority within Arizona. The largest ethnic minority nationwide, blacks, are numerically only the third largest of Arizona's subordinate groups.
Thus, understanding the genesis of Spanish-American and Mexican-American and Native American minority populations, their historic and present conditions, problems and aspirations, clearly deserves scholarly priority. Yet social historians have not yet carried out the studies that would place accurate knowledge of the Spanish-speaking peoples and urban Native Americans of Arizona on a par with that available for other states.
This book, then, attempts to expand the store of knowledge about the ethnic foundations of Arizona's second largest metropolis. It endeavors to analyze at least some aspects of Spanish colonial society and economy as well as to chronicle events at Tucson.12
The understanding of what occurred in this one small area contributes to the comprehension of how the United States as a whole achieved its multi-ethnic character. In 1975, persons with some Spanish genetic or cultural heritage constituted numerically the second largest ethnic minority in the country. Persons of pure or partial Native American ancestry, while not nearly so numerous, constituted the fastest growing major ethnic minority in the U.S. Discrimination toward members of these two minorities did not spring from the same causes as that directed toward blacks, nor did it necessarily take entirely identical forms.
I originally set out to study Tucson's past in order to assemble historical information about the site of San Cosme-San José-San Agustín del Tucson mission branch after taking part as a volunteer in archeological explorations carried out there in 1949. That analysis later expanded to provide similar data about the partially explored site of the Spanish-Mexican military post of San Agustín del Tucson. Reports to the Arizona State Museum remained unpublished. Searching for information about Tubac for the Arizona State Parks Board in 1958–59, I encountered additional information about Tucson in spare moments. I partially published these in 1962 and 1964. Since that time, other researchers as well as myself have located additional documentation concerning Spanish Tucson utilized in preparing this study. Incorporating much previously unpublished data, this book is essentially a new volume compared to earlier texts by the author.
One way in which this book adds to previously published understanding of ethnic foundations of Tucson is by including numerous colonial documents that have long lain hidden in archives. Usually translated in their entirety, these documents allow Spanish colonial residents of Tucson and officials dealing with this imperial outpost to speak for themselves. This approach resembles the one used by Robert F. Heizer and Alan J. Almquist in their discussion of The Other Californians: Prejudice and Discrimination Under Spain, Mexico, and the United States to 1920.13 It echoes the judgment of France V. Scholes14 “that the most solid achievements” of historians of the Spanish borderlands in recent decades “may be attributed to wide-ranging archival investigations in Mexico and Spain.”
Despite the retrieval of numerous documents from the obscurity of dusty archives, one still cannot prepare a balanced social history of the Spanish colonial period based firmly on primary materials. One can, nonetheless, write a far fuller account of biological, military and ecclesiastical transformations in colonial Tucson than has previously been possible. This book is one such effort.