I See Your Cahokia and Raise You My Quivira | HistoryNet MENU

I See Your Cahokia and Raise You My Quivira

By Sarah Richardson
October 2017 • American History Magazine

A Spanish musket ball found outside Arkansas City, Arkansas, burnishes a local academic’s claim that the area was the site of Quivira, a fabled Native American metropolis (“Losing the West,” August 2017), reports the Wichita Eagle. In 1539, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and troops marched north from Mexico seeking cities of wealth; the force found indigenous farm communities, including a thriving village Coronado called Quivira. In 1601, Juan de Oñate, governor of Spanish territory New Mexico, undertook to find Quivira again. Oñate described farm settlements, found no gold or silver, and recounted a battle his men fought with locals. Forebears of the Wichita Indians lived at the confluence of the Arkansas and Walnut Rivers, now Arkansas City. Archaeological researcher Donald Blakeslee of Wichita State University, above, studying a retranslation of Spanish colonial documents, concludes that in its prime the Quivira site could have rivaled Cahokia, a settlement in what is now southern Illinois that may have been home to 20,000 residents around 1100 A.D. Juan de Oñate’s personal story further animates the staga. He wed a granddaughter of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés who also was a great-granddaughter of Aztec leader Montezuma.

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