Along the San Pedro, lined with thorny trees, much as it is today, Coronado and his
party encountered poor Indians that gave the travelers presents of wild plant foods,
as was the local custom. Seymour (2008) has suggested that these natives were
probably the resident mobile groups (Canutillo complex) that were later referred to as
the Jano and Jocome, who subsisted on wild plant and animal foods. It seems
Coronado did not encounter the Sobaipuri as Bolton 1949 and many historians have
assumed because he turned before reaching their southernmost settlement.
Archaeological survey has shown that the Sobaipuri settlements begin around
Fairbank, another day north of where Coronado turned (Seymour 1989, 1990, 2007,
2008). Marcos de Niza, who traveled this way about 11 months earlier, likely did
encounter the Sobaipuri (Seymour 2007, 2008).
THE CORONADO EXPEDITION:
Francisco Vazquez de Coronado's Red House or Chichilticale
After crossing a four-day despoblado or
uninhabited area the Coronado expedition
entered the United States in southern Arizona.
Most scholars believe that he entered along the
San Pedro River (including Bolton 1949; Flint
and Flint 2005; Reff 1981, 1997; Riley 1987,
1997; Seymour 2007a, 2008).
Recent research is suggesting that he turned to the
northeast south of Benson and crossed through the
Sulpher Spring Valley and onward toward Safford
(Brasher 2007; Seymour 2007, 2008).
A number of scholars have speculated and drawn
calculated inferences regarding the location of the
Chichilticale ruin (Sauer 1932; Haury 1984; Duffen and
Hartmann 1997). Yet through all these efforts, the location of
the red house or Chichilticale has failed to be identified.
Most recently Brasher (2007) has suggested that he has
found it. Although 16th-century Spanish artifacts and
features of potential but unconfirmed association are
present the evidence has not been subjected to or
withstood the scrutiny of the profession.
The most convincing evidence is some of the site and
landscape attributes that match those in the chronicles, but
these are insufficiently place-specific to arrive at objective
inferences at this time and some of these are even
Along the way Coronado's expedition stopped at
Chichilticale (or Chichilticali; pronounced
Chee-CHIL-tee-CAHL-ley, meaning "red house" in
Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs) where he
encountered Indians more barbarious than those
seen before. These natives at Chichilticale were
probably the Apache, as they were another group
that lived by hunting (Seymour 2008). Expedition
members rested for two to three days amidst the
adobe ruins of the red house before proceeding
on to the edge of the 12- or 15-day mountainous
despoblado that led to Cibola (Hawikuh) (Bolton
1949; Flint and Flint 2002; Hammond and Rey
Download Powerpoint presentation on Coronado's route in Arizona and its implication for native occupants. Native-Focused
Perspectives (temporarily disabled)
See what Coronado-period artifacts look like from a confirmed Coronado expedition site.
Click here for the Jimmy Owens Site.
I have been unable to independently evaluate the artifacts because I have not had access to
many of them. I also have been unable to independently evaluate the previously conducted
analyses and evaluate the laboratories where each of the analyses and identifications was
conducted. I have had no role in the selection of samples or labs, which is potentially
problematic because in one instance there was clear sample contamination owing to the
inexperience of the lab technician selected. Inappropriate analyses have also been
conducted, said experts are not necessarily so, and dissenting opinions are dismissed.
New finds will be published in another upcoming (Winter issue) New Mexico Historical Review
issue by Brasher but I have not reviewed the article.
There are several problematic aspects of this apparent find, which from an objective
archaeological standpoint, bring into question its identification as Chichilticale. While
historians are usually convinced, their rules of evidence differ substantially from those
required by archaeologists. Moreover, some believe the "discovery" because they want the
legendary place to have been found, while others are equally disbelieving because they really
wanted to find it themselves or are disappointed the mystery has been solved.
While some of the artifacts are clearly Spanish period they are not period-specific artifacts. The
two classes which are said to be period specific are questionable (e.g., the shanks of
carat-head nails [e.g., undiagnostic without the heads] and the iron crossbow boltheads [lack
of response from the lab, etc.]). One question that arises is why the shanks of the nails were
preserved when the more robust heads were not? Another question is why the two apparent
crossbow bolthead fragments are iron when all of the others known from this expedition are
copper? Certainly those in Europe and from the Soto expedition are iron but to date these are
the only known iron bolt heads from the West.
Moreover, objections by analysts and labs as to some of the interpretations cause skepticism,
and as noted, I have not seen all the artifacts or been allowed to discuss them with specialists.
This is especially relevant because the standards of proof are more rigorous and of a different
nature for archaeologists than they are for many lay contributors. For example, this site is
along a centuries-old trail so other Spaniards passing through the area would have come this
way. Even the Jose Zunigat trail, a presidio captain between 1798-1801, has been found by
John Madsen and parallels the Cibola Trail and other routes north.
With regard to the "red house" or Chichilticale, Castañeda notes: "The men were all
disillusioned to see that the famous Chichilticale turned out to be a roofless ruined house,
although it appeared that formerly, at the time when it was inhabited, it must have been a
fortress. One could easily tell that it had been built by strange people, orderly and warlike, from
afar. This house was built of red mud."
There is no doubt that many of the adobe ruins at Kuykendall have burned and the adobe
turned red. But this is not a rare occurrence in this area. This attribute alone is not indicative of
this specific location. Moreover, Castañeda's account refers to one building, rather than the
many burned houses, rooms, or compounds present at Kuykendall.
Furthermore, Chronicler's Jaramillo's narrative notes that from the San Pedro they went to the
right "to the foot of the mountain range, where we were told it was Chichiltiecally." Kuykendall
is not at the foot of the mountain range but rather is several miles from it, situated on the basin
floor. Clearly perceptions vary depending upon a variety of factors but this particular deviance
I do still think the turn is here in the Lewis Springs area but I have other concerns about the
specific siting of Chichilticali that will be addressed over the next several months...
Recent and upcoming publications that discuss thse new data regarding Marcos de Niza and Coronado:
Seymour, Deni J.
2007 An Archaeological Perspective on the Hohokam-Pima Continuum. Old Pueblo Archaeology Bulletin No. 51 (December 2007):1-7.
2008 Despoblado or Athapaskan Heartland: A Methodological Perspective on Ancestral Apache Landscape Use in the Safford Area. Chapter
5 in Crossroads of the Southwest: Culture, Ethnicity, and Migration in Arizona's Safford Basin, pp. 121-162, edited by David E. Purcell,
Cambridge Scholars Press, New York.
2009 Evaluating Eyewitness Accounts of Native Peoples along the Coronado Trail from the International Border to Cibola. New Mexico
Historical Review (WinterJanuary 2009).
2009 Ethnographic Implications of Captain Fernando de Alarcon's 1540 Voyage to the Gila River.
2009 Where the Earth and Sky are Stitched Together: Sobaípuri-O’odham Contexts of Contact and Colonialism. Book due out in Spring 2011
at University of Utah Press.