A Battle in my Backyard: Coronado – His Vision and Search for Gold.

Coronado – His Vision and Search for Gold: This is dedicated to three friends of mine who over the past months have come through the fire: Staci and Karen and Nancy. May God lead you into a new and fulfilling vision. Also dedicated to Nicida, who held a vision in her heart for two years and has recently attained it.

This writeup is about a vision, a very large vision, which is appropriate at graduation time here in the USA. It is good for us to have some kind of vision, large or small. Vision is a form of hope, although in this story it turned out to be misguided. However we can still value the motivation and energy induced by hopes and dreams.

Petroglyph National Monument is 15 minutes from my home in Albuquerque. It contains thousands of petroglyphs which are images chipped into black lava rock by ancient Pueblo Indians about seven hundred years ago.

Dragonfly and bird petroglyphs (click to enlarge and then back-arrow to return).

Dragonfly and bird petroglyphs (click to enlarge and then back-arrow to return).

One portion of the Monument is called Piedras Marcadas, and included a large pueblo, still buried, and whose location is mostly kept secret. 475 years ago the Spanish conquistador Coronado moved his men into the pueblo on an unusually cold night in January 1541. To keep his men warm he appropriated the Indians’ clothes. Not surprisingly, at some point in time there was a battle at the pueblo, as described below.

The Coronado expedition was enormous. In 1530 King Carlos of Spain commissioned Mendoza, the viceroy of New Spain, to find silver and gold in New Mexico. Francisco Coronado won the job even though he was only 29. He set up the largest land expedition in New Spain and would crawl around the Southwest USA for two years (1540-1542). Coronado expended large sums of his own money in the expedition.
375 soldiers.
1,200-2,000 servants (Mexican indigenous soldiers).
1,140 horses.
5,000 – 10,000 livestock.
$20 million worth of silver pesos in today’s money (the silver weighed 19 tons!)
His voyage was about 4,000 miles long, and extended into Arizona and mid-Kansas.

Coronado expedition 1540-1542 (click to enlarge or source, and hit the back arrow to return to blog).

Coronado expedition 1540-1542 (click to enlarge or source, and hit the back arrow to return to blog).

Coronado’s vision was to find the Seven Cities of Gold (one of which was called Cibola). He searched conscientiously all the way to Kansas, with disappointment slowly mounting. He never found any silver or gold. The Seven Cities of Gold were just a fable, which originated in a report by a supposedly reliable Spanish friar. As the first European, Coronado did discover the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Later he was astonished by enormous herds of buffalo in what is now the Texas panhandle. He even reached what is now Dodge City, Kansas.

Coronado returned with 90% of his expedition, which is remarkable. However, the expedition forced Coronado into bankruptcy and resulted in charges of war crimes being brought against him. He was taken to court, but set free. Coronado remained in Mexico City, where he died of an infectious disease at the age of 44. The Spanish battled the Pueblo peoples more-or-less continuously, until 1598 when the Pueblo Revolt occurred and the Spanish were kicked out of New Mexico. But that’s another story.

Francisco Coronado (click to source).

Francisco Coronado (click to source).

Applying to our own lives: hope and dreams that lead to a vision are commendable. If we don’t ever dream and take a chance, we will be like barnacles that attach themselves to a pier at the ocean, and spend the rest of our lives just hanging on. But how do we avoid misguided hope or an unrealistic vision? First, ask for insights and wisdom from God…..and ask every day. Second run the dream by your friends and family, and also by other “neutral” people. Third, brainstorm about your dream with a few select others: write on a whiteboard all the possibilities associated with the dream, but be careful not to judge the ideas (this comes later). Fourth, count the cost.

Caveat: sometimes other folks will say it won’t work. Only we can make the final decision whether to go for the gold. Sometimes these other folks turn out to be dead wrong — but we won’t know this until later. Meanwhile we have to find the self-confidence and courage to go for it. Because in some cases it turns out to be the best thing we ever did!

Post-Script: The battle.
By agreement with Isleta and Sandia Pueblo descendants, modern-day archeologists could not dig up the ruins of the ancient pueblo in Piedras Marcadas, but instead measured the size of the pueblo using electrical resistivity which was able to penetrate the ground. More than 1,000 rooms were discovered on the ground floor, with 1,500 rooms total in three stories. They measured the size of 400 rooms, and found each was about 10 ft by 10 ft. Can you imagine living in a room this tiny!

Pottery shards and a hide-scraper at Piedras Marcadas pueblo (click on image to source).

Pottery shards and a hide-scraper at Piedras Marcadas pueblo (click on image to source).

When archeologists discovered a nail at Piedras Marchadas, they brought in a metal detector. They found lots of metal artifacts just six inches below the surface, and obtained permission to dig an area the size of a football field. They found over 1,000 metal objects which included:
Copper bells.
Glass beads from Venice.
A copper needle.
A belt loop.
Crossbow bolts.
Lead shot greater than ½ inch diameter for arquebuses (primitive muskets).
One Spanish helmet in a pit.
Chain-metal links.
Obsidian arrow points from Mexico.
Obsidian flakes from a machete shaped like a cricket bat.
Aztec sling-stones up to 1 pound in weight.

This was undoubtedly the site of an early conflict between Europeans and Native Americans. Although this football field must have been a battle ground, written Spanish history is controversial about it.

The Gray Nomad.
Probing the practice of Christian believers……

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Book of Genesis, chapter 15).

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he. (Book of Proverbs, chapter 29).

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