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FRANCISCO VASQUEZ DE CORONADO  

Born in 1510, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado may have failed in his attempt to find treasure enough to enhance the Spanish Empire but he is known for having led one of the most, astounding European explorations of the North American interior.  He was born to a noble family in Spain, coming to the America when he was 25 to work as the viceroy’s assistant for New Spain. 

After arriving in Mexico, he married the colonial treasurer’s daughter within three years.  Soon, he put down a dramatic slave rebellion, becoming the governor of one of Mexico’s provinces.  Excited, Coronado wanted much more so after hearing about the seven cities of gold, and Cabeza de Vaca’a travels, he decided to spearhead a royal expedition with 300 soldiers, 1,000 Tlaxcalan Indians, and huge herds of livestock, moving to the north. 

Then in the summer of 1540, he and his advance party consisting of Spanish cavalry came upon a Zuni pueblo called Hawikuh, which had already encountered the Spanish previously.  One of the survivors of Vaca’s expedition by the name of Estevan led a small group of scouters to the Zuni one year previous but Zuni killed him.  However, Coronado would soon learn this occurred because of Estevan’s advancements with the women of the Zuni tribe. 

Not long after, Coronado went to the pueblo during the high point of the Zuni summer ceremonies and understandably, they were not happy to see him.  However, Coronado gave the Zuni people a warning that if they did not obey him, along with God’s help war would be brought to the people with great force to take the wives and children, making them all slaves.  The Zuni were angry but not overly impressed.  They began to shoot arrows at the Spanish, almost killing Coronado.  The skilled soldiers and those that were mounted gained quick entry into the pueblo, forcing the Zuni to flee for their lives. 

Unfortunately, once inside the Zuni pueblo, Coronado found no gold, which required them to continue on their journey for treasure.  Sending out parties along the Colorado River, they explored the Grand Canyon and a large part of the area of what we know today as New Mexico.  Then, Coronado took a party of men with him into Quivira, which people believe is today’s Kansas.  While they, all they found was a small village of Wichita Indians. 

As you can imagine, Coronado and his men were extremely disappointed with this find, deciding to head back home to Mexico.  There, the Viceroy announced that Coronado’s expedition was a complete disaster and failure.  Even so, Coronado resumed his role of governorship with in a few years, he was found guilty of several acts against the Indians while under authority.  Removed from his office as governor in 1544, Coronado moved back to Mexico City, working in municipal government, a modest paying job.  Decades before the chronicle of his expedition was published, Coronado died in 1554.



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