Empire of Sand: The Seri Indians and the Struggle for Spanish Sonora, 1645-1803

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From the earliest days of their empire in the New World, the Spanish sought to gain control of the native peoples and lands of what is now Sonora. While missionaries were successful in pacifying many Indians, the Seris--independent groups of hunter-gatherers who lived on the desert shores and islands of the Gulf of California--steadfastly defied Spanish efforts to subjugate them. Empire of Sand is a documentary history of Spanish attempts to convert, control, and ultimately annihilate the Seris. These papers of ...
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Overview


From the earliest days of their empire in the New World, the Spanish sought to gain control of the native peoples and lands of what is now Sonora. While missionaries were successful in pacifying many Indians, the Seris--independent groups of hunter-gatherers who lived on the desert shores and islands of the Gulf of California--steadfastly defied Spanish efforts to subjugate them. Empire of Sand is a documentary history of Spanish attempts to convert, control, and ultimately annihilate the Seris. These papers of religious, military, and government officials attest to the Seris' resilience in the face of numerous Spanish attempts to conquer them and remove them from their lands. Most of the documents are being made available for the first time, while the few that have been published are extremely difficult to find. They include early observations of the Seris by Jesuit missionaries; the collapse of the Seri mission system in 1748; accounts of the invasion of Tibur¢n Island in 1750 and the Sonora Expedition of 1767-1771; and reports of late-eighteenth-century Seri hostilities. Thomas Sheridan's introduction puts the documents in perspective, while his notes objectively clarify their significance. In a superb analysis of contact history, Sheridan shows through these documents that Spaniards and Seris understood one another well, and it was their inability to tolerate each other's radically different societies and cultures that led to endless conflict between them. By skillfully weaving the documents into a coherent narrative of Spanish-Seri interaction, he has produced a compelling account of empire and resistance that speaks to anthropologists, historians, and all readers who take heart in stories of resistance to oppression.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A riveting account . . . a must on the bookshelf of any serious student of Spanish colonialism and Native American history in the Southwest." —Journal of Arizona History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816518586
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Pages: 493
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas E. Sheridan holds a joint appointment as professor of Anthropology at the Southwest Center and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has authored or co-edited eleven other books.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi
List of Maps vi
Acknowledgments vii
Introduction to This Volume 3
I. Early Spanish Contacts and the Foundation of the Seri Mission Program 1645-1700 17
Father Andres Perez de Ribas on the Seris, 1645 21
Father Ortiz Zapata on the Seris, 1678 26
Father Fernandez to Altamirano on the Conversion of the Seris at Populo, 1679 31
Diary of Alferez Juan Bautista de Escalante, 1700 36
II. Missions and Skirmishes 1725-1740 97
The de la Huerta Affair, 1725-1726 97
Huidobro and the Jesuits, 1729-1740 122
III. The Breakdown of Seri-Spanish Relations and the Expedition to Tiburon Island 1748-1750 139
Father Miranda on the Impact of Horcasitas Presidio on the Mission Seris, 1749 143
Relacion of Father Perera, 1750 160
Decree of Governor Ortiz Parrilla Ordering the Expedition to Tiburon Island, 1750 165
Ortiz Parrilla and the Jesuits Propose to Deport the Seris, 1750 169
Pimentel's Diary of the Expedition to Tiburon Island, 1750 177
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