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The Quest for Coronado

The Coronado National Memorial in the San Pedro Valley evokes the stories of our collective past and fosters a sense of place for Americans today.

The Coronado National Memorial in the San Pedro Valley evokes the stories of our collective past and fosters a sense of place for Americans today.

Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 19, No. 1
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Issue editor: Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Archaeology Southwest (formerly the Center for Desert Archaeology)

A peculiar object was found by a shepherd more than 70 years ago while he wandered the hills of southern New Mexico. It was a sheet of curved iron about 14 inches long and decorated with raised metal straps. The young man collected the curious artifact and gave it to his employer, who in time passed it down through his family. Some months ago, the piece was brought to the Coronado Roadshow, a public event in which local residents in Arizona and New Mexico were encouraged to share their old family collections with scholars. A legend had grown around the object, and many hoped that archaeologists could confirm the tale–for it was now said this breastplate came from Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in his search for Cibola, the fabled Seven Cities of Gold.

From 1540 to 1542, Coronado led an armed force of nearly 2,000 people into lands they thought of as the outer edge of India. They discovered not a lost paradise of gold, but instead a realm of expansive deserts and forest, well known to, and well used by, the native peoples who dwelled there. This remarkable journey is one of the most enduring and important events in American history because it laid the foundation for five centuries of exchange among Native Americans and Europeans. Even as extant documents give hints about these events, much remains in the shadows of time. Where exactly the entrada went, which tribal groups the Spaniards met, and how native peoples dealt with the expeditionaries are all questions that remain unanswered.

This issue was made possible by grants from the New Mexico Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Southwestern Foundation for Education and Historical Preservation.

Articles include:

The Quest for Coronado — Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Center for Desert Archaeology

Before Coronado — Carroll L. Riley, Southern Illinois University

The Coronado National Memorial — Frank Torres, National Park Service

The Summer of 1540: Archaeology of the Battle of Hawikku — Jonathan E. Damp, Zuni Cultural Resource Enterprise

In Search of the Coronado Trail — John H. Madsen, Arizona State Museum

The Coronado Roadshow — J. Homer Thiel, Desert Archaeology, Inc.

Rethinking the Epic Adventure — Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint, Documents of the Coronado Expedition Project

The Estrada Factor — Shirley Cushing Flint, Documents of the Coronado Expedition Project

Estevan, Moroccan Explorer of the American Southwest — Hsain Ilahiane, Iowa State University

“Great Cruelties Have Been Reported” — Richard Flint, Documents of the Coronado Expedition Project

The Place of the Coronado Expedition — Donald C. Cutter, University of New Mexico

Where Coronado Camped — Gayle Harrison Hartmann

The Economics of Conquest — Shirley Cushing Flint, Documents of the Coronado Expedition Project

Cities of Gold: The Novel as Research Tool — William K. Hartmann, Planetary Science Institute, University of Arizona

Coronado Matters — Stewart L. Udall, Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior

Back Sight — William H. Doelle, Center for Desert Archaeology

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