Report and Relation of the New Conversions Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Of the Motives for writing this Report and Relation.

FOR days and years many persons have asked of me maps, reports, and accounts of these new conversions, and although on various occasions I have given reports, at present they are pressing me more urgently, some of them alleging first the royal cédula of his Majesty, God preserve him, of July 17, 1701, which orders that report be made to him of the state of California (which has been very well done by the printed report of Father Francisco Picolo), and of the “state and location of these heathen Indians of these provinces of Sonora.”

In different letters our Father-General, Thyrzo Gonzalez, with other superiors, has asked of me reports of all edifying incidents that might happen, and of the celestial favors of our Lord which we might experience in these new conversions, since they are always a source of comfort to our people, in Europe especially, and of edification to those in foreign lands.

Fray Manuel de la Oyuela, of the Sacred Order of the Seraphic Father San Francisco, having a little more than a year ago come from his holy convent of Guadalaxara to these provinces of Sonora and to these new conversions, to ask alms, went with me on an expedition far enough to plainly sight the land route to California from the very high hill of Santa Clara, which is north of the head of the Sea of California, traversing in going and returning more than two hundred and fifty leagues of these fertile lands, among Indians so friendly, affable, and industrious that his Reverence said that in these new conquests and extensive new conversions a new kingdom could and should be founded. To this I replied that if this should come to pass I should rejoice if it were called New Navarre, in honor of the blessed land of the most glorious apostle of the Indies, San Francisco Xavier, my great patron, as other kingdoms are named New Viscaia, New Galicia, etc. Afterward, while on the way to Guadalaxara, within the last few months, his Reverence wrote me that if I did not make report of the ripeness of so great a harvest of souls an account of them would be required of me in the tribunal of God.

Two months ago Father Juan de Hurtassen, rector of the College of Vera Cruz, wrote me the following: “My Father Eusevio Francisco Kino, from Spain persons, to whom I cannot excuse myself, are writing me, asking an exact account of the provinces which your Reverence has discovered, to what degrees of latitude and longitude they extend, the disposition of the nations, what rivers and land they comprise, especially those which slope to California from south to north, and whether California is an island or a peninsula, or which view is more probable; what reports there are of the kingdom of La Quivira, in what latitude it is found, how far it is to the land of Jesso in that region, whether any rivers run into the Sea of the North, or all empty into the Sea of California, and, in fine, everything touching this matter; for they write me that upon this matter there is now much controversy in Madrid, with a variety of opinions. If everything can be shown on a map, so much the better. I have no doubt your Reverence will take this trouble; and, as I conjecture, perhaps it will contribute to the glory of God.” Some three weeks ago I received a very courteous and long letter from my Father Provincial of this New Spain, Juan de Estrada, in which his Reverence, among other things, writes me the following: “In regard to your Reverence’s coming to Mexico to print the map, you will be needed in that Pimería and new Christendom and catechumenical heathendom. We see that they print relations and maps of less consequence in France; and your Reverence may judge whether a map of more consequence and novelty, accompanied by some brief relation, with arguments and documents showing that the Californias are only peninsulas, will move more the eagerness of the printers of France to make the map and print the written relation. I have found out that the Father Rector, Juan de Hurtassum, asks your Reverence for those maps that they may be printed in France, whence they are asking for them and for reports of new conversions and lands, to put it all into print.” Thus far the letter of my Father Provincial and the reasons for writing this brief report.

Of the very great Advantage to both Majesties which can be secured by the Promotion of these New Conquests and Conversions, on account of the many great Benefits and Utilities which they promise.

For many years this province of Sonora has suffered very much from its avowed enemies, the Hocomes, Janos, and Apaches, through continual thefts of horses and cattle, and murders of Christian Indians and Spaniards, etc., injuries which in many years not even the two expensive presidios, that of Janos and that of this province of Sonora, have been able to remedy completely, for still these enemies continue to infest, as always, all this province of Sonora, with their accustomed murders and robberies and their very notorious and continual hostilities. They have already reached and they now go as far as Acenoquipe, in the Valley of Sonora itself; and as far as Tuape in the Valley of Opodepe; and as far as San Ygnacio and Santa María Magdalena in this Pimería.

But, by founding very good missions for them in these new conquests and conversions, particularly in the good eastern valley of the great valley of Santa Ana de Hiburi, where Captain Coro is at present, who already is a Christian and is called Anttonio Leal, a great restraint can be placed upon these enemies, who are accustomed to live in the neighboring sierras of Chiguicagui; and by fortifying for said Captain Coro his great ranchería for a new pueblo, as shortly, God willing, we shall fortify him for the protection of Santa María Baseraca, he will continue better his accustomed expeditions against these enemies; and he will be able to chastise them, as he is accustomed to do, winning very good victories, as always, and even much greater, for the total relief of this province of Sonora, just as when a few years ago he killed at one blow more than two hundred of those enemies, and as four months ago, in the expedition which he made in pursuit of those who were carrying off cattle and horses from the Real de Bacanuche, he killed fifteen adult enemies and carried off ten little prisoners. One of them I have here in my house. One of them, having baptized and catechised them, I named Joan Miguel, which are the names of our Father-General and of the Provincial; the other I named Phelipe, in honor of our very Catholic monarch, God save him.

The promotion of these new conversions will serve also for the advancement, good government, and good administration of the many more missions which can be founded farther on, for there are prudent and weighty persons, zealous for the service of the Majesties, who are of the opinion that in these more than two hundred leagues of new rich lands, inhabited by Indians industrious and newly conquered and reduced, a new kingdom can with ease be founded, which can be called New Navarre, as others are called New Viscaia, New Galisia, New Kingdom of Leon, etc.

By promoting the new conversions of this extensive Pimería, with the favor of Heaven we shall be able shortly to enter upon the reduction and conversion of the neighboring Apachería, which lies to the north and northeast of us, and extends northwest to the very large Colorado River, or Rio del Norte, above the thirty-fifth, thirty-sixth, and thirty-seventh degrees of latitude and beyond, for we know that it flows from northeast: to southwest and issues about ten leagues west of the province of Moqui; for, we having sent messages to those natives up the Colorado River, already they invite us to enter to see them, and already they give us certain reports that soon, in imitation of the rest over here, they will become reduced to our friendship and to the desire of receiving our holy Catholic faith.

By way of the same Apachería, which is in thirty-two degrees latitude, we shall be able, with the divine grace, to enter to trade with New Mexico and with its nearest provinces, Moqui and Zuñi, for on an average it is not more than forty or fifty leagues, which is the distance at thirty-four degrees latitude, where live our already well-subdued and domestic Pimas Sobaiporis of San Fernando, the most remote, at the junction of the rivers Hila and San Joseph de Terrenate, or de Quiburi; at latitude thirty-six degrees, where are the provinces of Moqui and Zuñi; and as far as thirty-seven degrees, in which is found the Villa of Santa Fé of New Mexico; for we have also certain reports that before the revolt of New Mexico the Spaniards of those provinces used to come by way of Apachería to these our most remote Pimas Sobaiporis to barter hatchets, cloth, sackcloth, blankets, chomite, knives, etc., for maize.

With the promotion of these new conversions not only will the Christian settlements already formed, new and old, have more protection, and be defended by them, as has been suggested, but at the same time a way will be opened to many other new conquests and new conversions, in. many other more remote new lands and nations of this still somewhat unknown North America: as for example, to the northward, to the Gran Teguayo; to the northwest, to the Gran Quibira; and to the west, to California Alta, of this our same latitude of thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six degrees, and farther, and to its opposite coast and the South Sea; and to its great Bay of the Eleven Thousand Virgins; to the famous port of Monte Rey, which is in neighboring and fertile lands (and a royal cédula came to Sebastian Biscaino that he should go to colonize it), and to the very renowned Cape Mendozino.

At the same time, after having entered to Moqui and New Mexico, to the northwest and the east, it will be possible to have communication with New France, and with the new conquests, conversions, and missions which at present they are making with their glorious and apostolic journeys from east to west. And if we enter to the north and northeast, and afterwards turn to the east, it will be possible to open a way to Europe from these new conquests and conversions of this North America where we are, only half as long as the road which we now have and are accustomed to travel, by way of the City of Mexico and the Port of Vera Cruz; for if the one road is much more than two thousand leagues, the other will be little more than a thousand.

Just as to the northeast and east of this North America we shall be able to have a shorter road to Europe, in the same way we shall be able to have by the northwest and the west a convenient land route to Asia, and to Great Tartary and to Great China, since to the westward of Cape Mendocino and connected therewith follows the land of Jesso; afterwards comes the land which they call Tierra de la Compañia (may our Lord grant that some day it may be of the Company of Jesus and converted to our holy Catholic faith) and the land nearest to Japan; and afterward the narrow Strait of Anian, which is no more than ten or twelve leagues across, and has the convenience of an island in the middle by which to pass to Great Tartary, and from there to Great China. For lately the very learned author of the very curious New Geographic Mirror, Don Pedro de Mendosa, gentleman of the Order of Calatrabe, notes that a few years ago Father Grimaldi, of our Company, having gone from Great China to Great Tartary, near those places and countries, learned that the sea, where I know that the Strait of Anian enters, was no farther distant than forty days’ journey. And it is patent that there is no other Strait of Anian than this which I here mention, for although Drake, in order to carry his point that California was an island, would feign another Strait of Anian with another much-talked-of Sea of the North over here above California, and that he had turned back from his navigation, yet it is all false.

Categories: History