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Frederic Remington"s painting of the Coronado expedition as it leaves brand-new Mexico in 1541 to discover the phibìc American good Plains.

Public Domain


Searching because that Wealth past the Sunset

Motivated through “God, Gold and Glory” Spain sent a collection of military explorations to explore the great Plains beginning in 1541. Converting indians would bring glory come the converter in period that related every little thing to religion, yet the real draw was finding riches in the fantastic, mythical kingdoms that always seemed come lie come the west, just past the currently explored territory. To medieval Europeans, the land to the west the them was a magical and mysterious place full of wonderous creatures choose monsters and also giants, and terrific places complete of riches choose King Soloman’s mines, the 7 Cities that Cibola and also Quivira. It’s no surprise, then, that stories of another great Indian people even richer 보다 the Mayans and Aztecs motivated Coronado to discover the plains.By the 1600s it became noticeable that these places didn"t exist and an ext practical considerations guided their explorations: convert the natives, colonization and finding a northern water route throughout the continent, i beg your pardon would give them some advantage over british pirates raiding their settlements along the western coastline of southern America. Throughout the 1700s, army reconnaissance and trade relations with their next-door neighbors were the emphasis of your journeys into the plains. By 1821, Mexico’s independence ended Spain’s affect on the north American continent, opening the means for the newly developed United States and its eventual settlement that that vast region.

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Opening a Future trade Route

Because they followed the Arkansas River, numerous of these expeditions came through this area of Kansas. This journeys pioneered the route that william Becknell would later on use in 1821 to open up the Santa Fe Trade. They started out native the area now recognized as brand-new Mexico and by 1821, the year Becknell opened up the Santa Fe Trail, there to be hardly a location on the an excellent Plains that had actually not been explored by the Spanish.


Now we will certainly speak the the plains. The country is spacious and level, and is more than 400 leagues wide in the component between the two mountain ranges....No settlements were seen anywhere on these plains....The country is prefer a bowl, therefore that as soon as a male sits down, the horizen surrounding him all around at the street of a musket shot. - Pedro de Castañeda, Chronicler that the Coronado Expedition


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Sketch that a Wichita (Kansas) Indian village in the 19th century. Both the houses and also surrounding cornfields appear comparable to what Coronado described in 1541.

Public Domain

1541 - Vasquez de Coronado

Coronado collection out indigenous the area of brand-new Mexico with 350 soldiers. Influenced by the stories of one Indian called the Turk, that was trying to find the seven Cities of Cibola, a legendary place of impressive wealth. ~ marching about 650 miles without detect anything, Coronado realized the Turk had actually misled them. He sent earlier all however 30 the his men and also used Texas Indians together guides from that point on. They would at some point reach a village of grass spanned huts near Lyons, Kansas, i beg your pardon Coronado named Quivira. Most of the route Coronado supplied on his return to new Mexico would later come to be the Santa Fe Trail. Although the planned to proceed the search for gold, he to be seriously hurt after falling indigenous his horse and had to return to new Spain. The Spanish government halted any type of further exploration into brand-new territory therefore they could consolidate their hold on presently organized lands and concentrate ~ above mining silver- in Mexico.Eventually others flourished interested in return to the area of new Mexico. Return Coronado had actually not found any gold, many people thought it to be still there to discover. There was likewise an attention in convert the Indians, and also establishing a more permanent presence in bespeak to usage it together a basic for additional explorations.

1595 - Francisco Leyva de Bonilla & Antonio Guitiérrez

Leyva and Guitiérrez led an unauthorized exploration looking to do a name for themselves and possibly come to be governors of new Spanish districts in brand-new Mexico. Your journey took them close to present-day Wichita, Kansas prior to tragedy win the group. The 2 leaders dealt with with each, and eventually Guitiérrez murdered Leyva. Quickly after the the staying soldiers were assaulted by plains Indians who killed everyone however one Indian servant.


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Earliest known drawing of a bison from 1554. 1601 - Juan de Oñate

By 1595, Leyva and also Guitiérrez’s expedition, in addition to others, lastly prompted the viceroy in Mexico City to authorize Juan de Oñate to begin a negotiation in brand-new Mexico. Oñate would certainly eventually set out in 1598, leading 129 soldiers and their families, 83 wagons and 700 head of livestock. He developed a settlement at a place he named San Juan de los Caballeros, then invested the time in between 1600 and also 1604 sending other explorations out to check out the region. That led one pilgrimage himself in 1601 the went as much as contemporary Wichita, Kansas.Although Oñate did no cover any new territory, his was the largest expedition to venture into the plains up to that time. The was additionally the first time wagons crossed the great plains.

1634 Alonso Baca

Baca, along with “some men” left Santa Fe and also traveled as far as Quivira, mainly using the route of the future Santa Fe Trail. Enemy Indians compelled him come return but not before reaching a large river that part people believe was the Mississippi.


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The Pawnee Indians and also their French allies surrounded and defeated the Villasur expedition. 1720 - Pedro de Villasur

During the 1700s the Spainish were increasingly threatened by foreign competitors in north America. Stories got to them around other white guys on the plains and also it shortly became apparent that the French were moving in on your territory. Through 1700 the French were settling into the area that Illinois and the Mississippi river Valley, and also along the Missouri River. New Mexico governer Antonio Valverde y Cosio sent out Villasur come “make a enlightenment of the negotiations which they speak those the the French nation have established.” He took 43 soldiers, 3 settlers and also 60 Pueblo indians to look for the French. Return they found no Frenchmen, they to be ambushed by Indians using French weapons. Only 13 Spaniards endured the attack and also made it earlier to Santa Fe.


1792 - Pedro Vial

For the next 60 years the Spanish placed their explorations on organize while they dealt with the Comanche. After creating peace with them, they looked beyond new Mexico, this time looking for trading avenues with your neighbors. France had handed Louisiana end to Spain in 1763 and Governor Fernando de la Concha made decision it to be time to open up trade relations with the new Mexican province. He asked Vial, a Frenchman from new Orleans who became a Spanish citizen, to lead a expedition to St. Luigi to open up trade and communications with the French in Louisiana. Vial had only two various other companions that made the pilgrimage with him. Castle were captured by ind on the means who take it them in the direction they to be going anyway. Your return pilgrimage was uneventful.

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1806 - fax Melgares

In 1800, Spain provided Louisiana ago to the French, however immediatley France turn around and also sold the territory to the U.S. In 1803. Through 1805, american began showing up in Santa Fe and also in the adhering to year Zebulon Pike led an exploration to the mountain Luis valley in brand-new Mexico mostly complying with the route of the Santa Fe Trail. He arrived in the valley in January of 1807, where brand-new Mexican soldiers summary detained him for trespassing. In 1806, Melgares went with 105 soldiers, 400 militiamen and 100 ind to search the plains for these foreign intruders into brand-new Mexico. In ~ one suggest he left 240 that his troops camped along the Arkansas flow a couple of miles southwest of present-day Larned, Kansas. Back he traveled widely v the plains, going as much as the Republican river in Nebraska, the did no encounter any kind of foreigners, apparently absent Pike’s expedition by a month.