The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992 Page: 140
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
Assiduous study of indigenes paid off most handsomely in the 178os,
when Comanches in Texas and New Mexico agreed to the Spanish al-
liance that had been the crown's objective for two decades.' That al-
liance would be the linchpin of a network of Indian alliances essential
to the development-indeed, the survival-of the northern frontier
Once reasonably confident of the Comanche alliance, Spanish pol-
icymakers concentrated next on the widely distributed Apaches, who
had always comprised the most complex of the crown's problems on the
northern frontier.' Again, the first requisite was to know them. Hence,
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries brought significant
new reportage, focused principally on Apaches, but also sketching
many other peoples on the periphery of the Apacheria, including those
of Texas. Given the timeless fascination with Indians in general and
Apaches in particular, such reports proved especially attractive to col-
lectors. That distinction took them, under varied and sometimes myste-
rious circumstances, to the far-flung repositories where Borderlands
scholars have found four reports within the past four decades.
One by one these reports on Apaches have been intriguing, albeit
challenging, discoveries. Now, more exciting, the four, considered as a
series dating from about 1786 to 1804, show how Spanish understand-
ing of Apaches evolved over two decades of intensive interaction, both
peaceful and hostile. Not surprisingly, the first three of the series are
the work of career soldiers, reflecting the era when Apaches were per-
ceived foremost as a military problem.'
In contrast, the report presented in this article-the latest chrono-
logically as well as the most recently discovered of the sequence-is the
work of a consummate civilian bureaucrat, Manuel Merino y Moreno.'
Composed about 1804, near the end of Merino's tenure as secretary
of the Commandancy General of the Interior Provinces of New Spain,
1 For development of the Comanche-Spanish alliance, see Elizabeth A H John, Storms Bewed
in Other Men's Wolds The Confrontation of Indiam, Spamnih, and French in the Southwest, 1540-
1795 (College Station Texas A&M University Press, 1975, and Lincoln. University of Nebraska
Press, 1981), 664-716.
IJohn, Stomi Biewed in Other Men's Worlds, 7o8-709
'Foi the earliest of the series, see Elizabeth A. IH. John, "A Cautionary Excicise in Apache
Histoilography," and "Bernardo de GAlvez on the Apathe Frontier, a Cautionary Note for
(;ringo( Historians," Jouinal of Arizona Ilhtory, XXV (Autumn, 1984), 301-315, and XXIX
(Wintel, 1988), 427-430o, respectively For the second, and most pivotal, see )aniel S Matson
and Albert H Sc hrocder (cds ), "Cordcero's Des option of the Apache-1796," New Mertrco ls-
torcal Review, XXXII (()ct, 1957), 335-356 (cited hereafter as NMIIHR) For the third, and
most comprehensive, see h.lizabeth A. 1H John (ed ) and John Wheat (trans.), Views fronm the
Apacrhe Fi ontie Repo t on the Noi the>in Povances of New Spau by josd Co tis, Lieutenant in the Royal
Corps of Engineer , 1799 (Norman" Univelsity of ()klahorna PIless, 1989)
l'The document translated here-"Noticas de las Naciones de Yndlos (;entiles que habitat
en 1,a frontcla de las Piovincas Intclnas del Reino de Nucva Espafia cn que se da idea del
modo en que viven y haten la Guerra confol me A la experiencla que hay, y de lo que had
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 95, July 1991 - April, 1992, periodical, 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117153/m1/186/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.