The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

truth appears to seekers as well as to believers." Her descriptions of encounters
with other pilgrims underscore the contemporary relevance of the ancient jour-
ney.
Unhappily, the plates do not match the standard of the essays. The sixty-two
photographs shot along the route in Spain convey distressingly little of the
splendid reality. The twenty-one from the New World are more satisfactory, pre-
sumably because simpler subjects presented much less technical challenge.
Pictorial inadequacies notwithstanding, Santiago: Saint of Two Worlds offers re-
warding connections between Old and New Worlds, medieval and modern
times. Readers inspired to further inquiry will find excellent guidance in Sim-
mons's "Selected References."
Austin ELIZABETH A. H. JOHN
Disease, Depopulation, and Culture Change in Northwestern New Spain, 1z58-1764.
By Daniel T. Reff (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. 1991. Pp. xi-
ii+33o. Preface, tables, maps, illustrations, references, index. $3o.oo.)
The Columbian Quincentenary has sparked public interest in a question that
scholars have debated heatedly for many years: what did the encounter between
Old and New Worlds mean for Native Americans? One result of the so-called
Columbian exchange was the introduction of Old World diseases that had
calamitous effects on indigenous society. Fueling this debate, anthropologist
Daniel T. Reff utilizes archeological evidence, Spanish colonial records, and rea-
soned conjecture to establish an epidemiological chronology for northwestern
New Spain and to explain the consequences of disease-induced changes in in-
digenous society. Before European contact, argues Reff, Indian groups of the
Greater Southwest had relatively sophisticated systems of social and economic
organization capable of sustaining large populations. The arrival of Spaniards in
the sixteenth century also meant the arrival of Old World diseases, especially
malaria, smallpox, and measles, to which Indians had no immunity. The author
describes numerous "disease episodes" (chapter three) which produced stagger-
ing death rates (well over 90 percent in most cases) and, in turn, triggered a col-
lapse of traditional ways. Into this cultural crisis stepped the Jesuits, who
encountered relatively simple rancheria societies-in-shock rather than the more
sophisticated pre-contact arrangements. Reff points out that as new leaders and
organizers of economic endeavors, the Black Robes assumed many of the func-
tions formerly carried out by native elites. This practical role, as well as Jesuit dis-
cipline and training, helped facilitate missionization.
A major difficulty with this study lies in the unreliability of some demographic
data. Reff notes that even modern censuses can be inaccurate, yet he relies upon
the often impressionistic observations of early Spanish explorers for his esti-
mates of precontact population. The credence he gives to Fray Marcos de Niza's
Relacin is striking. Also problematic is the interpretation of the data. Population
decrease does not necessarily mean death, although it probably does indicate a
loss of distinct ethnic identity. By concentrating on specific Indian groups, the

600

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed November 28, 2014.