Rio del Norte: People of the Upper Rio Grande from Earliest Times to the Pueblo Revolt. By
Carroll L. Riley. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995. Pp. xiv+345.
ISBN 0-87480-466-3. $29.95.)
Anthropologist Carroll Riley's "people of the Upper Rio Grande" are the
many peoples we have come to think of as native to the region, principally
Pueblos and their nomadic neighbors. In Riley's version of New Mexico's history
and prehistory, Indians are the protagonists. Spaniards arrive late in Riley's story
and concern him mainly as they reveal information about or have impacts on
Indians. Coronado, once dubbed "Knight of Pueblos and Plains," now appears
as one of several villains; the Indian known as "the Turk," who lured Coronado
to the Great Plains, emerges as an "authentic American patriot and hero" (p.
Riley begins with early man in the region and moves forward through the
anthropologist's "traditions" to the "Golden Age" of the Pueblos on the Rio
Grande. Here he achieves his goal of serving general readers by constructing a
coherent narrative from a welter of technical publications. In the field of
Southwestern archeology, rife with interpretive disagreements and personal
vendettas, Riley offers a voice of reason. He suggests multicausal explanations,
alerts us when his opinions differ from those of others, and concludes each
chapter with a valuable discussion of sources.
Riley loses balance when the Spanish arrive on the scene. He disavows his-
panophobic or hispanophilic readings of the past, but fails too often to capture
the intellectual milieu in which his European subjects operated. Frenchmen at
Agincourt are "noble nincompoops" (p. 148); friars who elect to stay behind
and convert Indians after Coronado's withdrawal have succumbed to "lunatic
ideas" (p. 205); doctors who employ the standard medical procedure of bleed-
ing engage in a "maniacal medical practice" (p. 233).
People, whether Indian or Spanish, are not Riley's forte. Next to the sparkling
vignettes of Pueblo and Hispanic life that Ram6n Gutierrez drew in his justly cel-
ebrated book When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away (1992), Riley's didactic
chronicle lacks vitality. By choosing to dismiss Gutierrez's stimulating work
rather than engaging it or building on it, Riley missed an opportunity to present
the peoples of the Upper Rio Grande in their full humanity.
Southern Methodzst University DAVIDJ. WEBER
The Dominguez-EscalanteJournal. Edited by Ted J. Warner and translated by Fray
Angelico Chavez. (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995. Pp.
xviii+153. Introduction. ISBN 0-87480-485-5. $1 2.95, paper.)
This edited and translated work was first issued as a bicentennial publication
by Brigham Young University Press in 1976 but not reviewed in the Southwestern
Historical Quarterly. The University of Utah Press edition contains slight changes
in the translation and improved accuracy in some of the geographic coordinates
presented in the notes, all made in consultation with Robert Himmerich y
Valencia of the University of New Mexico.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed April 27, 2015.