Monday, November 22, 2010

The 50 Years Before the American Occupation of New Mexico

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New Mexico, in the 50 years before the American occupation of the country, was a place of movement of the population. The New Mexicans had out grown Santa, Fe, they had out grown Santa Cruz de la Canada and they had out grown Taos and Albuquerque. Movement out of the traditional areas was occurring everywhere. Up the Rio Chama, down the Rio Grande, down the Pecos to san Miguel del Bado, north along the Sangre de Cristo Range from Taos, to the Mora valley and over the Sandia's to the interface with the plains.

They were looking for land that could sustain them and their families. They were willing to risk the regular encounters with hostile Indians. They needed tillable and irrigable land to plant their crops. Nothing could stand in their way. They went with their packets of seeds and following a few animals. Following horses, sheep, goats, cattle, pigs and chickens. They settled in small defensible places where they could grow their crops, feed their animals and defend themselves as best they could from the hostile Indians.

There had been little presence of the Spanish government in the past and less as the Spanish Colonial era came to an end. There would be very little government control or assistance as the administrations changed and the Mexicans came to power.

In essence, New Mexicans lived in a virtual void of government. A controlled anarchy. High grade violence between New Mexicans and the hostile tribes that surrounded the area kept the people close to each other. Close as far as a common interest if not close in proximity. They needed to survive in this place and time and fighting with each other was not an option. Arms were scarce to nonexistent. When hostilities broke out with the Indians they were fighting back with common weapons. In some cases the Indians had better weapons than New Mexicans. They would acquire them from American or French traders to the east and north east.

They held their own and the population of New Mexicans increased slowly.

Then in August of 1846 everything would change, everything.