|About the Book|
This study explores one of the most ambitious attempts by a European empire to incorporate American Indians into colonial society. After nearly a century of raiding for Spanish livestock and warring with Spanish troops and their Indian allies,MoreThis study explores one of the most ambitious attempts by a European empire to incorporate American Indians into colonial society. After nearly a century of raiding for Spanish livestock and warring with Spanish troops and their Indian allies, thousands of Mescalero, Chiricahua, and Western Apaches settled on eight reservation-like establecimientos (establishments or settlements) near Spanish presidios between 1786 and 1793. Stretching across more than five hundred miles of arid desert and temperate mountains---from Presidio del Norte (todays Texas), in the east, to Tucson, in the west, these establecimientos constituted one of the earliest and most extensive systems of reservations in early North Armerica.-Carrying out the enlightened Indian policies of Spanish officials, presidial commanders hoped to turn semi-nomadic Apaches into productive town-dwelling farmers subject to crown authority. But, in practice, peaceful Apaches, whom Spaniards called Apaches de paz, helped shape the system. Subverting Spanish efforts to make them wholly sedentary, peaceful Apaches used Spanish rations, gifts, and military protection to sustain and preserve their families, while adopting a semi-sedentary way of life. More importantly, a majority of Apache men served Spanish interests as scouts and auxiliaries. Working together with presidial soldiers and other Spanish Indian allies, these Apaches helped reduce violence across New Spains northern frontier for forty years. After initially withstanding the deterioration of peace and order during the war for Mexican War of Independence between 1810 and 1821, a variety of factors, including ongoing political and economic instability in Mexico city, competition from United States traders, and a regional small pox epidemic, caused the system to collapse in the mid-1820s.-Even though Spaniards failed to turn most Apaches into sedentary farmers, this forgotten era of peace has important implications for understanding patterns of cross-cultural interaction on early North American frontiers and borderlands. The interethnic cooperation between Apaches and Spaniards at the establecimientos was the key to maintaining four decades of uneasy peace between the two groups. Taking advantage of Spanish protection on the reservations and the reduction in military manpower off of them during the transition from Spanish empire to Mexican nation, Apaches initiated their own processes of nation building and incorporation to revitalize their families and postpone conquest, which was never inevitable or absolute. At the same time, the reduction in Apache raiding helped northern New Spain expand its economy, population, and territory. Each side, then, garnered reciprocal benefits. This pattern demonstrates that accommodation, not just conflict, characterized Apache-Hispanic relations in the early American Southwest.