The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975 Page: 218
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Amarilla grant is a case in point (pp. 84-86). The author, however, is not
always as critical of "tradition," or of her sources, as one would hope. She
seems to accept, for example, the story that Hispanos drove sheep to St.
Louis before the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821, an event which she
mentions twice (pp. 26, 63). This story has never been corroborated by
contemporary accounts either in New Mexico or Missouri.
Although Los Primeros Pobladores treats twentieth-century developments,
it emphasizes the period when New Mexico itself was a frontier province-
first of New Spain, then Mexico, then the United States. That portion of
New Mexico which Swadesh has studied represents, in a sense, a frontier
within a frontier. Although she is apparently unfamiliar with the historical
literature on the impact of the frontier experience on Anglo-American char-
acter and institutions, the picture she describes of New Mexico frontier
society reveals some remarkable similarities. She portrays the pobladores as
hardworking, self-reliant, and independent. Their society was more fluid
and egalitarian than that of the more settled areas of New Mexico or Mex-
ico. The availability of land-"virtually all settlers held title on some grant"
(p. 17)-and the lucrative contraband trade with Utes, provided oppor-
tunities for economic and social advancement. Survival on the frontier often
meant defiance of governmental regulations, the modification of settlement
patterns, and the adaptation of institutions to local conditions. Unlike the
American frontier, opportunity for social advancement was open to Indians
who adopted Hispanic life styles. Moreover, Utes and the pobladores be-
came dependent upon one another and cultural borrowing took place in
both directions. After the United States conquest, the pobladores acted as
a buffer between Americans and Utes.
In a short review it is impossible to do more than suggest the range of
subjects discussed in this provocative study. The author makes interesting
observations about matters as various as the uniqueness of the Spanish
language in the region, the importance of genizaros (non-Pueblo Indians
who adopted Hispanic culture), bootlegging in the Prohibition era, and
the impact of Navajo Reservoir on settlers in the San Juan Basin. Swadesh
has much to say about the impact of the frontier on women's role in society,
finding that the traditional division of labor was impossible to maintain and
that women's subordinate position began to change. Concepts of morality
also were altered by frontier influences. Emphasis on parenthood and mar-
riage was so great that even the native-born priests placed less value on
celibacy than their counterparts elsewhere (p. I88).
Swadesh's work is not only a valuable contribution to scholarship, but
represents an important piece of advocacy. Notwithstanding occasional
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975, periodical, 1974/1975; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/m1/253/: accessed December 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.