Marc Simmons: Spanish explorers tempted by tribal 'treasure'

"By the late 1530s, rumors had reached the viceregal capital that treasure-laden cities of the Indians lay to the far north, beyond the frontier.

Mendoza was interested but skeptical. So he sent a small party led by Fray Marcos de Niza to have a look.

The report that came back was optimistic, even though it appears that Fray Marcos, after traveling up the east side of Arizona, had managed to view from a distance only one of the six Zuni pueblos. His fertile imagination may have transformed that place into something grand.

It was enough for Viceroy Mendoza to select his protégé, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, as head of a major expedition to explore the vast north country. Those who joined the lofty enterprise were required to put up a substantial amount of money to fund it, since the royal government was unwilling to do so.

Mendoza, though, did contribute some of his own personal funds to meet the expedition’s staggering expenses. Coronado drew upon his rich wife’s dowry for his part."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Coronado's expeditions little appreciated at time (The Santa Fe New Mexican 9/21)

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