Marc Simmons: Spanish expedition passed through many Pueblos

"The Coronado expedition, beginning in 1450, conducted the first grand-scale exploration of the future state of New Mexico.

The Spaniards had traveled up the east side of Arizona to reach the six towns of the Zuni Indians, which proved barren of any wealth. Disappointed, the leader, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, dispatched several parties to explore surrounding country.

One of those parties, headed by Capt. Hernando de Alvarado, was sent eastward with 20 horsemen to investigate reports of a populous province astride a great river.

Arriving at the broad valley of the Rio Grande, green with crops and shaded by giant cottonwoods, Alvarado found a dozen Pueblo towns above and below present-day Bernalillo. They were inhabited by the Tigua, or Tiwa, people, so he called this the province of Tiguex.

The Spaniards were greeted cordially, and their leader said, "The Indians of neighboring provinces came to offer me peace." From them, he also learned of many more pueblos stretching north up the Rio Grande and extending into the mountains."

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Trail dust: Vast pueblos along Rio Grande compensated for group's fruitless Ariz. expedition (The Santa Fe New Mexican 1/22)

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