CHAPTER XVII. PAPAGO AND SOBAIPURI.


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History of Papagos—Sobaipuris Ask Priests to go to Guevavi—First Missions in Arizona—Discontinuance of Missions—Remains and Ruins of San Xavier, Tumacacuri, and Other Missions—Work of the Missionaries—Discipline of the Indians —Derivation of Name of Papago—History of Sobaipuri—Location of Papagos —Their Means of Subsistence — Traditions and Myths—Montezuma — Papago Dwellings.

The Papago, a Piman tribe, closely allied to the Pimas, whose language was the same. The tradition is that at one time they belonged to the same tribe, but split off for some unknown reason. They have always been friendly to the whites, however, and are the only Indians in Arizona that, when converted to the Catholic faith, remained Christians. The Maricopas and Pimas always held to their ancient faith, or, rather, creed. The Yumas at one time, as is shown in this history, invited the Catholic priests to settle amongst them, but shortly afterwards massacred them. The Moquis, probably the most politic of all the Indian tribes, were always ready to have their children baptized and join the Catholic church as long as the priests and the soldiers remained with them, but the Papagos were converted by Father Kino in


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the latter part of the 17th century, and to this day adhere to the Catholic faith.

According to Bishop Salpointe, in his “Soldiers of the Cross,” page 131, the Sobaipuris, who lived on the San Pedro, had come over a distance of two hundred miles to ask the priests to follow them to the place called Guevavi, where they had their villages. Their petition was granted. The missionaries followed them and founded for their tribe a mission which was given the name of the place. This mission, now abandoned for a long time, was the first established on the soil of Arizona. It was in the same region that the missions of Tumacacuri and San Xavier del Bac were afterwards founded along the course of the Santa Cruz river.

Bishop Salpointe, in reference to the building of these missions, and the discipline, religious instructions, etc., given to the Papagos, says:

“As stated before, it must have been between the years 1687 and 1690 that the missions of Guevavi, the first in what has become the Territory of Arizona, was founded by the Jesuit Fathers. Those of Tumacacuri, San Xavier, Tubac, Tucson, and others, were established successively as circumstances permitted where it seemed they would have good results for the Christianization and civilization of the natives. They were tried in different ways and at different periods, either by the wild Apache nation, or by those very Indians for whom they had been founded. Priests were killed and churches destroyed; still the work was not abandoned. The perseverance of the missionaries, whether Jesuits or Franciscans,


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was above all reverses, as long as they were permitted to follow their vocation and work for the Indians. The losses were heavy on them, but they ever tried to make up for them by renewed zeal and activity, and always succeeded to some extent at least until they were expelled from the country with the Spaniards by the decree of December 20th, 1827.

“With this decree and that of May 10th, 1829, by which ‘Las Temporalidades,’ the goods of the missions were confiscated, there remained no possibility of the continuance of the missions as such. By the expulsion of the Franciscans, the Indians remained without any protection. They could not but miss at once the moral and material support they were wont to receive from the Church, and, as a consequence, many of them, finding themselves very soon without resources, commenced to scatter here and there, and to return gradually to the customs of their former Indian life. Then followed the destruction of the livestock left by the missionaries, and of the churches, except that of San Xavier, which was preserved by the Indians who did not leave their pueblo. San Xavier and Tumacacuri were the most important missions of Arizona at the time of the expulsion of the Franciscans. Their priests visited Tubac, Tucson, and other pueblos of the Papagos at stated times. The priests who administered in the mission of San Xavier since 1767 to 1827 were sixteen in number, as far as we can see by the records left in the church. Of those who resided at Tumacacuri, we have only the names of Baltazar Carillo, Narciso Gutierres and Ramon Liberos, who was


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the minister of that mission in 1822, as we see by the following, taken from the records of the mission: ‘I, Ramon Liberos, minister of the mission of San Jose de Tumacacuri, transferred on the 13th of December, 1822, the bones of the Rev. Narciso Gutierres from the old church to the new one, and buried them in the sanctuary at the gospel side.’ For authority the paragraph bore the signature: ‘Ramon Liberos.’

“The church of Tumacacuri, though of a comparatively recent date, does not show anything now but ruins of a very regular structure, much similar in shape to that of San Xavier, but an adobe building only, while San Xavier was built with brick and stone.

“Who were the priests who built the churches such as those, the remains of which are seen at San Xavier, Tumacacuri, and other places, and what were the means they had at their disposal for the erection of these structures?

“These are questions not infrequently asked by visitors to the old missions of Arizona. The answer we can give to the first is, that the church of San Xavier and that of Tumacacuri were built by the Franciscans, the former, which had been commenced in 1783, being completed in 1797, and the latter, as we have seen already, was completed in 1822, and was called the ‘new church.’ As regards the names of the religious who superintended the building of these churches, no mention is made of them in any of the records we have met with, nor did these true sons of the humble St. Francis put on the walls any mark that could manifest their personal merit to future generations. What they did was to place


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the coat-of-arms of their Order on the frontis-piece of the churches they built, as if to say to us: ‘We, unknown to you, poor religious of St. Francis, have built this for you; pray for us.’ Nevertheless, if the tradition be right about the time spent in building the church of San Xavier, we can raise the veil of humility by looking at the names of the missionaries of whom mention is made in the church records during this period, extending, as above written, from 1783 to 1797. The priest in charge, as Superior of the San Xavier Mission from May 22d, 1780, to 1794, was the Rev. Baltazar Carillo. He was succeeded in the charge of Superior by Fray Narciso Gutierres, who kept the position until 1799. From these authentic data, we can safely say that it was under the administration of these two religious that the beautiful church of San Xavier was built. The same can be said of that of Tumacacuri, which was administered by these two priests in succession before 1822, when its new church was put in charge of Fray Ramon Liberos.

“The tradition goes among the old people of the territory that the builders of the above-named churches, as also that of Cavorca in Sonora, were two brothers, members of the Gauna family, yet in existence in the country.

“As regards the second question, viz.: What were the means the missionaries had at their disposal for the erection of substantial and rich churches?

“Leaving apart the marvelous products of the rich mines, which are supposed to have been held in possession by the ancient missionaries,


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and which probably, never existed really, as no mention of them is made either in the records or in the historical books which we have read on the old missions, we have the following to answer: According to the writers of two of the works which have contributed to our little knowledge about the past ecclesiastical history of Arizona, the ‘Rudo Ensayo’ and the ‘Noticias Estadisticas,’ the churches were built by the missionaries solely from the produce of the land assigned by the government to each one of the missions, which land was cultivated by the Indians under the direction of their respective ministers. To this resource we might add the product of the livestock, which was considerable at times in several of the missions, and also what the missionaries were able to spare of the scant allowance they received in money from the government for their yearly support. This explains why the building of the churches required a long time, and also why some of them remained unfinished in some of their parts.

“Deeming it will not be out of place, we will say a few words about the dealing of the missionaries with the Indians, and about the way they taught them, little by little, the manners of civilized life. According to details we received in 1866 from men who had seen the Fathers at work and who had been employed by them as foremen in the different labors carried on in the mission of San Xavier, the Indians were perfectly free to work for themselves or for the church, to cultivate their own fields or the church land, with the difference that the former had to look for their maintenance, while the latter


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were supported by the mission. Those who worked for the mission were dependent on it for food and clothing, not only for themselves but for their families. For that purpose provisions were stored in the mission house, or convent, and distributed in due time.

“Early in the morning the inhabitants of the pueblo had to go to church for morning prayers and to hear mass. Breakfast followed this exercise. Soon after a peculiar bell called the workmen. They assembled in the. atrium, a little place in front of and adjoining the church, where they were counted by one of the priests and assigned to the different places where work was to be done. When the priests were in sufficient number they used to superintend the work, laboring themselves, otherwise they employed some trustworthy Mexicans to represent them. During the season of planting and harvesting, the workmen had their dinner prepared in the farmhouse. Towards the evening, a little before sundown, the work was stopped and the men permitted to go home. On their arrival in the houses which were located round the plaza, one of the priests, standing in the middle of this plaza, said the evening prayers in a loud voice in the language of the tribe. Every word he pronounced was repeated by some selected Indians who stood between him and the houses, and lastly by all the Indians present in the pueblo. Notwithstanding these orderly measures, many of the Indians fled every day, as is reported in the ‘Rudo Ensayo,’ from their respective squads, before they reached the place where they had to work, and tried to be present


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only at meals. Nevertheless, taken on the whole, these are the men who, by their work, enabled the missionaries to build their churches and houses, learning at the same time how to earn their living in the future. That these Indians must have been happy under such a rule nobody can doubt, and San Xavier, owing perhaps to the vicinity of the Presidio of Tucson, became afterwards one of the most flourishing missions under the administration of the Franciscan Fathers.

“The missions of the southern part of Arizona were all composed of members of that portion of the Pima nation designated by the name of Papago. According to the testimony of the authors we have mentioned several times, the Papagos, though barbarous in their customs, and very much inclined to the use of intoxicating liquors, which they made from several kinds of wild fruit, were industrious, thrifty, and more sociable than those of other tribes Their moral character was excellent. Previous to the establishment of the missions amongst them, they had already, it seems, a knowledge of the sacredness of marriage, as they kept it always in its unity and perpetuity. They were so strict on that point, that the woman who committed adultery was punished with death. The number of Papagos living at San Xavier can only be approximately calculated, as many of them do not remain in the pueblo after the harvesting of the wheat, but go to the mountains where they find more facilities for the tending of their animals. Those who reside constantly are about five hundred in number. As for the


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total number of Papagos living in Arizona, it is estimated to be about 5,000.

“As we have seen before, the expulsion of the religious, and the confiscation of the missions' property were the cause why the Indians of the southern part of Arizona, except those who lived at San Xavier, abandoned their pueblos, leaving their churches at Tumacacuri, Tubac, and Tucson, to go gradually to ruin, as they are seen at the present day. The missions, it is true, were not abandoned by the Church, as the bishop of Sonora had them put in charge of the parish priests of Magdalena, but owing to the distance and the danger from the Apaches who, at all times, were infesting the country, the visits of the priests were only on rare occasions. We have been told that when the people of Tucson wanted to be visited by a priest for some festival or during Easter time, they had to send eighteen or twenty mounted and well armed men for him and give him the same escort to take him back to Magdalena. This arrangement was nothing but what was necessary, but, as can be easily imagined, could not be resorted to as often as the spiritual needs of the people required. On the other hand, the priests, after the expulsion of the Franciscans, were too scarce in Sonora, to permit the bishop to assign one for the missions of Arizona.”

Bancroft says, as I have quoted from him in Volume 1 of this history, that there were only two missions, that of San Xavier del Bac, and Guevavi and that all the others were visitationes,


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but from the record given by Bishop Salpointe and Elliott Coues, this was probably an error.

The word “Papago” at one time was supposed to mean “cut-hair” or “baptized,” a name given them by the Pimas as a mark: of derision. Now, however, the best authorities say it is a compound of papah, “beans”. and ootam, “people,” “beansmen” or “beans-people,” hence the Spanish name of “frijoleros.”

The Sobaipuri, also a Piman tribe, was probably a part of the Papagos, although some authorities claim that they were extinguished by the Apaches, and that the remnant of the tribe merged with the Papagos. According to Bourke “the Apaches have with them the Tzekinne, or stone-house people, descendants of the cliff-dwelling Sobaipuris, whom they drove out of Aravaypa Canyon and forced to flee to the Pimas for refuge about a century ago,” and Bandelier states that “the Apaches caused the Sobaipuris to give up their homes on the San Pedro, and to merge into the Papagos.”

At the time of the occupation of Arizona, and its settlement in the latter part of the 18th century by the Spaniards, the Sobaipuris, as a tribe, were extinct, if, indeed, they ever existed. When Coronado made his journey from Ures through the Wilderness to the headwaters of the San Pedro, he found there the first Indians, who were supposed to be the Papagos, whose original home was the territory south and southeast of the Gila river, especially south of Tucson, Arizona, in the main and tributary valleys of the Rio Santa Cruz, and extending west and


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southwest across the desert west, now known as Papagueria, into Sonora, Mexico, from San Xavier del Bac to Quitovaquita, one of their westernmost rancherias, which is about a hundred and twenty miles, and this may be considered as the extent of the settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries, during which period, owing to the inhospitality of their habitat, they were less inclined to village life than the Pimas, but, like the Pimas, the Papagos subsisted by agriculture, maize, beans, and cotton being their principal crops. These they cultivated by means of irrigation. Many desert plants also contributed to their food supply, among which was the mesquite, the beans of which were eaten, and the saguaro, pitahaya, or giant cactus, from the fruit of which they made preserves and a syrup. They carried on an extensive trade in salt, taken from the great inland lagoons, which found a ready sale at Tubac and Tucson. Their principal crops, at the time of this writing, were wheat and barley. In latter years they became also stock raisers, and many of them earned a livelihood by working as laborers when the railroads entered Arizona, and irrigating ditches began to be taken out. They are tall and dark complexioned; their habits and customs are similar to the Pimas, except that the men wear their hair only to the shoulders. Little is known of their traditions, although it is said they closely resemble the Pimas, because, when converted over two centuries ago, the church discouraged anything calculated to keep alive their ancient religious beliefs and customs.


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Among the Papagos we meet for the first time the Coyote, or prairie wolf, and find him much more than an animal; sometimes more than a man, only a little lower than the gods. In the following Papago myth, he appears as a prophet, and a minister and assistant to the hero god Montezuma, who figured exceedingly in the myths of the Gila Valley, and should not be confounded with the Mexican monarchs who bore the same name:

“The Great Spirit made the earth and all living things before he made man. And he descended from heaven, and digging in the earth, found clay such as the potters use, which, having again ascended into the sky, he dropped into the hole that he had dug. Immediately there came out Montezuma, and, with the assistance of Montezuma, the rest of the Indian tribes in order. Last of all came the Apaches, wild from their natal hour, running away as fast as they were created. Those first days of the world were happy and peaceful days. The sun was nearer the earth than he is now; his grateful rays made all the seasons equal, and rendered garments unnecessary. Men and beasts talked together, a common language made all brethren. But an awful destruction ended this happy age. A great flood destroyed all flesh wherein was the breath of life; Montezuma and his friend, the Coyote, alone escaping. For before the flood began, the Coyote prophesied its coming, and Montezuma took the warning and hollowed out a boat to himself, keeping it ready on the topmost summit of Santa Rosa. The Coyote also prepared an ark; gnawing down a great cane


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by the river bank, entering it, and stopping up the end with a certain gum. So when the waters rose these two saved themselves, and met again at last on dry land after the flood had passed away. Naturally enough Montezuma was now anxious to know how much dry land had been left, and he sent the Coyote off on four successive journeys, to find exactly where the sea lay toward each of the four winds. From the west and from the south, the answer swiftly came: The sea is at hand. A longer search was then made toward the east, but at last there too was the sea found. On the north only was no water found, though the faithful messenger almost wearied himself out with searching. In the meantime the Great Spirit, aided by Montezuma, had again repeopled the world, and animals and men began to increase and multiply. To Montezuma had been allotted the care and government of the new race; but puffed up with pride and self-importance, he neglected the most important duties of his onerous position, and suffered the most disgraceful wickedness to pass unnoticed among the people. In vain the Great Spirit came down to earth and remonstrated with his viceregent, who only scorned his laws and advice, and ended at last by breaking out into open rebellion. Then, indeed, the Great Spirit was filled with anger, and he returned to heaven, pushing back the sun on his way, to that remote part of the sky he now occupies. But Montezuma hardened his heart, and collecting all the tribes to aid him, set about building a house that should reach up to heaven itself. Already it had attained a great height, and contained


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many apartments lined with gold, silver and precious stones, the whole threatening soon to make good the boast of its architect, when the Great Spirit launched his thunder, and laid its glory in ruins. Still Montezuma hardened himself; proud and inflexible he answered the thunder out of the haughty defiance of his heart; he ordered the temple houses to be desecrated, and the holy images to be dragged in the dust; he made them a scoff and byword for the very children in the village streets. Then the Great Spirit prepared his supreme punishment. He sent an insect flying away toward the east, toward an unknown land, to bring the Spaniards. When these came, they made war upon Montezuma and destroyed him, and utterly dissipated the idea of his divinity.”

This tradition was gathered principally from the relations of Con Quien, the intelligent chief of the Central Papagos, and is given by Davidson, in “Indian Affairs Report,” 1865, on page 131.

In a footnote on page 77 of the third volume of “Native Races,” Bancroft says:

“The legendary Montezuma, whom we shall meet so often in the mythology of the Gila Valley, must not be confounded with the two Mexican monarchs of the same title. The name itself would seem, in the absence of proof to the contrary, to have been carried into Arizona and New Mexico by the Spaniards or their Mexican attendants, and to have become gradually associated in the minds of some of the New Mexican and neighboring tribes, with a vague, mythical, and departed grandeur. The name Montezuma


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became thus, to use Mr. Tylor's words, that of the great ‘Somebody’ of the tribe. This being once the case, all the lesser heroes would be gradually absorbed in the greater, and their names forgotten. Their deeds would become his deeds, their fame his fame.”

Colonel W. W. Wright, of the United States Army, who spent many years in the service in Southern Arizona, and who has taken much interest in the Indians and their myths and legends, furnishes me the following:

“Among the traditions of the Papagos is one which says that along time ago they lived on the banks of a river in the East; that a tribe of men who painted their faces white, came into their country, and that the ancestors of the Papagos left that country and came west, to the Valley of the Gila and Papagueria.

“The mountain is the place where lived ‘The Man Who Made the World’ it is very ancient because his teeth have been found there; fragments of them. The Papagos have a game which they call ‘kicking ball,’ and they make the ball out of tree gum, or carve it out of wood. It is about the size of a baseball. They play the game by kicking the ball from one point to another, and sometimes it takes several days to play a game.

“It is said that ‘The Man Who Made the World,’ played this game and that he kicked the ball from Poso Verde, in Mexico, clear up a long, steep trail into Arizona to the top of the mountain where there is a stone, roughly round, higher than a man, which is said to be the ball which ‘The Man Who Made the World,’ kicked, and


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after he kicked it from Poso Verde, Mexico, to the top of the mountain in Arizona, he left it there as an evidence of his strength.”

The Papago women were expert basket makers, but their pottery was inferior to that of the Pueblos, and the designs and patterns of both the pottery and basketry, are the same as those of the Pimas. They have always been a frugal and peaceable people, but by no means lacking in bravery when oppressed by their enemy, the Apaches, from whose raids they suffered severely. They were always ready to obey the call of the whites, and to unite with them in any expedition against the Apache, their hereditary foe.

The dwellings of the Papagos were domeshaped, consisting of a framework of saplings, thatched with grass or leafy shrubs, with an adjacent shelter or ramada. These lodges were from twelve to twenty feet in diameter, and sometimes the roof was flattened and covered with earth.

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