Heritage, Volume 13, Number 4, Fall 1995 Page: 20
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John Peterson, Book Review Editor
Spanish Expeditions into
William C. Foster, University of Texas Press,
This volume is a happy wedding of text,
figures, and maps that will satisfy historians,
geographers, archaeologists, and culture
tasters. While it may suffer occasionally
in detail that might haunt the specialist,
it offers a well-rounded and thorough
overview of the pertinent sources and the
The author not only comprehensively
reviews the secondary and much of the
primary data on the subject, but he then
compiles maps and makes stabs at physically
locating places and people in the
Spanish Colonial landscape of East and
South Texas. This may seem an easy task;
unfortunately, the literature is replete with
false information often perpetrated with an
eye to inventing local notoriety.
Coronado's crossing of the Canadian in
eastern New Mexico is one such hallowed
locale. It is doubtful that Coronado ever
crossed the Pecos near Santa Rosa, and
much better evidence links his eastward
journey with the Mora River. That bit of
trivia aside, this work seeks to deconstruct
the many specious flights of geographic
claims to fame in favor of linking places,
people, and events to real space and time.
My only feeble protest is that Texas includes
TWO caminos reales, and the one to
the west, while usually ascribed to New
Mexico, is just as Texan in the present
political geography of the continent as the
This good read is supplemented by appendices
that highlight the Indian tribes,
the vegetation, the wildlife, and the documented
epidemic diseases of the region, as
gleaned from the primary sources.
This approach to regional history will
be well-received by scholars from a variety
of disciplines, especially those who don't
read the primary sources. And students and
the general public will find an erudite and
generally reliable introduction to a fascinating
El Camino Real de Tierra
Gabrille B. Palmer, project director; June-el
Piper and LouAnn Jacobson, editors, New
Mexico Bureau of Land Management, New
Mexico State Office, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
If you really are curious about the other
camino real, then you will find Gabrielle
Palmer's inexpensive and stimulating volume
a welcome addition to your library of
Spanish Colonial literature from the borderlands.
Palmer is an art historian who
recently produced a marvelous volume with
Donna Pierce on the artistic products borne
of the clash of two world cultures from the
16th to the early 19th century in New
Their volume, "Cambios: The Spirit of
Transformation in Spanish Colonial Art",
published by the University of New Mexico
Press, was released in 1993. Lavishly illustrated,
it provides an introduction to the
artistic expression of church and daily life
that deftly depicts the emergence of a new
cultural construction. Palmer's work in this
area illuminates her interest and her expertise
in Colonial culture of New Spain; her
contribution has grown to include the
management of the Camino Real Project
in Santa Fe, which now can boast of attracting
public and private funds toward
visitor centers and collaborative research
projects throughout New Mexico, Texas,
and Mexico. The project has been crucial
to achieving National Trail status for the
Camino Real from Chihuahua to Santa Fe,
which skirted the edge of Texas about 100
years before the colonial excursions of
Since I live and do archaeological work
in the El Paso region, I must admit to some
regional puffing. However, I am not terribly
territorial about the two caminos of
Texas; if anything, there is more competi
tion between New Mexico and Texas about
scholarly possession of the territory.
In fact, when the University of New
Mexico recently got a contract job in the
Lower Valley of El Paso from the Texas
Water Development Board, the County
Commissioners rebelled and wondered out
loud at Commissioners Court why New
Mexicans were doing Texas archaeology.
They suggested that UNM coordinate their
project with the University of Texas at El
Paso, which didn't sit well with our northern
But Gabrielle Palmer has been a salve to
the border wars, the scholarly skirmishes,
and her volume with the Bureau of Land
Management is a compilation from many
sources and many interests. Essays by Dan
Scurlock, Carroll L. Riley, Marc Simmons,
Thomas Chavez, Rick Hendricks, David
Snow, and Albert Schroeder, among many
others, range in content from agriculture,
colonial music, military and rebellion
themes, physical geographic evidence of
the trail by John Roney, as well as artists
and onomastics of the Camino Real.
This is a brief and enticing overview,
based on good scholarship, and achieving
the same general and accessible breadth as
Foster does for the eastern camino, without
necessarily the same cohesiveness. But it is
a collected volume. At nine dollars, it is
well worth the price of admission.
Spent Cartridges of
Revolution: An Anthropological
Daniel Nugent, University of Chicago Press.
On the subject of northern New Spain,
this work by Daniel Nugent contributes
new perspectives to the history of Chihuahua
from the perspective of those who
weathered the Mexican Revolution, and in
their oral testimony recounted to Nugent
their life and their community histories.
This is a fresh vision in anthropology that
20 HERITAGE -FALL 1995
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 13, Number 4, Fall 1995, periodical, Autumn 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45411/m1/20/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.