La Cordillera Newsletter and 15th International Conference Report
by Joe Myers
The 15th International Anza Society Conference was held in Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, Mexico, March 11-14, 2010. The conference really begin on Thursday morning as many of the attendees were picked up at a couple of shuttle locations or at the Tucson Airport, about an hour and a half drive from Nogales, Arizona. A number of attendees
also traveled to the border, or even Magdalena, in their own or rented vehicles so we made quite a diverse group. We gathered about 11 am in Nogales, at the Pimeria Alta Historical Society, in the old city hall. Lunch, was hosted by the Historical Society and after lunch we grabbed our suitcases and walked across the International Border. We were met there by a bus provided by the City of Magdalena, about 50 miles to the south.
After a brief stop to get the proper permits south of Nogales, Mexico, we traveled on to the Mission of San Ignacio, near Magdalena. This mission was made famous in Herbert Bolton’s Rim of Christendom; it was one of the missions set up by Father Kino before 1700, and it was the home for many years of Father Campos. Anza’s father actually “rescued” Father Campos from the Jesuit hierarchy at this mission, when Campos grew
old and somewhat demented. Campos then lived with the Anza family until he died.
Leaving there, we traveled a short distance to the beautiful city of Magdalena. Most of our group was staying at the Hotel El Toro right on main street, and we checked in to their quite modern rooms. About 7 p. m., we were taken by bus to their distinctive town hall, the “Palacio Municipal” on the Avenida Obregon, about a mile away. There we enjoyed a reception by the city Mayor, Arq. Luis M. Chavarin Gaxiola and many of his fellow citizens. Lisa from his office worked tirelessly with her staff to ensure our visit was flawless and enjoyable. We were welcomed and served a variety of appetizers in their architecturally interesting Palace. We hear so many negative stories about Mexico in the news today; it is a shame one of our national news channels was not able to film our reception in Magdalena and show the positive side of life south of the border.
Friday, at 9:00 am, our talks began in the President’s Room at the Palace. The room was named after a meeting held there between our president Gerald Ford and the President of Mexico, many years ago.
Phil Valdez Jr., MBA, a former Professor of Financial Management, began the talks, Phil is an eighth generation descendant of Juan Bautista Valdez, the courier on the 1774 Anza exploratory expedition to California. His presentation covered the route and campsites that the 193 settlers experienced on their march with Lt. Moraga, from the Presidio de Monterey northward, to found the Presidio de San Francisco in 1776. Phil had actual copies of the, Hojas de Servico, (service records) from the presidios dated from the1700s and one of the items I found most intriguing was that the brother-in-law of Anza was presidio commander at Fronteras in 1766, when Moraga was a fairly new recruit there. They all took part in an expedition against the Apache in eastern Arizona in 1766, so it is evident that Anza, as commander at Tubac, would have had an opportunity to get acquainted with the younger Moraga as early as 1766. Moraga later became his second in command on the colonizing expedition and as Phil described, actually led the settlers in 1776 over the last leg of the epic journey, to establish the settlement there.
At 9:30 a.m. Vladimir Guerrero, Ph.D, Spanish Literature, author of the book The Anza Trail and the Settling of California, spoke on “Correcting the Record: A New Perspective on Chief Palma ofthe Quechen.” He addressed the subject of the destruction of the Spanish settlements on the Colorado River by the Quechen in 1781. The establishments were the result of Chief Salvador Palma’s effort to develop a closer relationship with Spain after befriending Francisco Garcés andJuan Bautista de Anza in 1774. He traced the sources for the inaccurate and demeaning manner in which Palma and the Quechen have been interpreted by history, and discredited the theory the rebellion resulted from not providing gifts. Instead he proposed Palma could envision the benefits from an integrated society and believed it could happen if Spaniards settled in his nation. When the new Spanish establishments proved to be an oppressive occupation, Palma joined his people in the uprising of 1781, which effectively closed the route to California for over half a century.
At 10:00 a.m., Ron Quinn, Ph.D, Professor of Biological Sciences & Regenerative Studies,
California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California spoke about some of the
geopolitical forces that caused the Spanish to push their empire north into what is now the United States in the 1700s. This included numerous expeditions that went all the way to Alaska. He planned to talk about the expedition of Lewis and Clark and Spain’s reaction to it, but we had a slight computer glitch and ran out of time – so we’ll have to wait to hear about this next time.
After the break, Joe Myers, Ph.D in Chemistry, covered some of the travels of the German born Jesuit priest at Tubutama, Jacobo Sedelmayr. He made a number of trips in the 1740s over much of the same terrain that Kino covered around 1700. Then after another thirty year gap, the Spanish born Franciscan Father Garcés picked up the quest in the 1770s. Traveling part way to California with Anza and the colonists, he set out virtually alone, using Kino’s maps in one hand and Sedelmayr’s descriptions in the other, reaching the San Joaquin Valley in California and the Hopi Villages in eastern Arizona. References to the Indians along the Gila River carrying fire brands to warm themselves were highlighted. The earliest reference went back to a companion of Coronado – Diaz in 1540.
Next was a presentation by Richard Stoffle, Ph.D, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has authored many books and articles including “On Ghost Dancing the Grand Canyon” or American Indians and the old Spanish Trail. His talk focused on his recent research “Analyzing the 18th Century Life Ways in Northwest Sinaloa and Southwest Sonora.” He and his students have been interviewing residents in both Sinaloa and Sonora, gleaning from some of the old timers fragments of information that have survived to the present time about Anza and the expedition.
The last talk before lunch was by Naomi Torres, superintendent of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. She gave us an update with an emphasis on international aspects of the trail. There has not been a lot of activity regarding the expedition in Sinaloa or Sonora, but she isworking diligently to remedy that. She posted on the walls seven large murals prepared by a group working in Tucson. The murals gave us a preliminary look at the interpretive information being prepared as a traveling display for Mexico. She also introduced her staff to our group, Marcy Salunga and Steven Ross.
Lunch on Friday was downtown at La Carreta. We had time for a tour of the cultural corridor, the museum and some entertainment by local folkloric dancers.
Talks resumed in the afternoon. We had an excellent translator, Teresa Leal Ontireros, from the Pimeria Alta Historical Society in Nogales. Five talks by local historians were scheduled (in Spanish with a translation for those of us not speaking Spanish). Unfortunately we had two problems in the afternoon. The speakers we were expecting were replaced by different persons and I only caught the names of two of them; and feed back from a couple of large amplifiers in the room made it every difficult to understand the translation. My sincere apologies to this group for slighting them in this write-up. The speakers we were expecting were: Dolisa Galindo, Miguel Mendes, Romulo Felix, Ismael Valencia, and/or Julio Montane. The two names I actually was able to write down were Andres Cavello and Dolisa Galindo. Andres is a local historian and author of several books and Dolisa is in charge of the archives of Sonora. Both covered topics of local interest and highlighted information about Anza. Dolisa had a picture of Anza (a lithograph) which I had not seen before; it was different than the portrait in the Governor’s Palace in New Mexico.
7:00 pm. Short trip to the restaurant Mariscos Cajeme La Palapa. It is home to some of the finest seafood in inland Sonora. Music was provided by the mayor’s office at the banquet and our keynote speaker was Jesus Garcia. His family lives in Magdalena but he actually lives in Tucson. He works at the crown jewel of Arizona, the Sonoran Desert Museum. He has conducted research on the fruit trees of Kino and made an outstanding presentation about the ancient orchards in the area. I’ll never think about pomegranates the same way again.
Saturday, March 13, 2010. The bus departed from the El Toro Hotel for an all day tour of missions at Tubutama and Pitiquito, plus a number of additional stops. Historian Andres Cavello presented a lot of the colorful history to us on the bus trip. At Tubutama, Ron Quinn provided some extra entertainment. He had uncovered some writings that Father Font recorded there, describing an Apache attack. It was very descriptive. We actually drove on past Pitiquito and ate our box lunches at Mission Caborca before returning to visit Pitiquito. This mission is a special place for me as it is the final resting place of the great chronicler on the Anza Expedition, Father Font. Unfortunately the church installed a new floor recently and covered up the three crypts that used to be visible in the far end of the church, including Father Font’s. Phil Valdez Jr. had visited this mission several years ago and had seen the crypts.
At 7:30 p.m., we took the bus from El Toro Hotel to Momo’s for dinner. A number of the people from the Mayor’s office joined us for dinner that evening, and music was provided by a singer/guitar player. Jesus Garcia, our banquet speaker from the night before had met the entertainer we had on Saturday night the day before, on Friday, and now jumped up to exhibit more of his talent, singing and playing guitar right along with his new friend. Great time!!
On Sunday, we were scheduled to hold our board meeting at the hotel at 9 am, but we were in for one more additional treat. Eduardo Robinson who had coordinated most of the activities for us in a number of trips from his home in Nogales, Arizona, and he now sprung one more surprise. We boarded the bus for another trip to downtown, and viewed a number of ancient letters/records. Several had the actual signature of Father Kino. It was incredible to see these ancient writings being carefully cared for in Magdalena.
The board meeting was postponed until 10 a.m., and there were a few changes in the ranks of our officers. Sharon Myers is the new president, serving for the next two years and Phil Valdez Jr. is the new Vice President. He will become the president in two years. Ron Quinn agreed to serve another two year term as secretary, and Rosalie Wright will continue one more year as treasurer. We also gained several new board members and lost a couple of older ones.
At 11:45 a.m., we boarded the bus and headed to a nearby hacienda, El Penasco. A local
historian from Magdalena, dressed as Father Kino, made a special presentation in Spanish, taking us back 300 years. We then enjoyed a barbeque before heading back to the international border by bus and the walk across the border with our suitcases. Everyone hated leaving Sonora and having to say farewell to our new friends.
The purpose of the Anza Society is to celebrate the life and times of Lt. Colonel and Governor of New Mexico, Juan Bautista de Anza. The first of the fifteen International Conferences was held in Arizpe, Sonora in 1996 and a number of conferences have been held there since, as well as one in Hermosillo and now Magdalena. Linda Rushton and Don Garate have taken a tour group to Anza’s fathers home in the Basque region of Spain, so it truly is an international organization. Conferences have also been held in California, Arizona, and Colorado. Next year we plan to hold the conference on the second weekend of March, in the Santa Fe/Albuquerque area.