Worlds Forever Changed The Vázquez de Coronado Expedition to Central New Mexico, 1540–1542

In 1540, one of Spain’s largest sixteenth century explorations entered into the American Southwest in search of diplomatic ties and potential wealth. The massive expedition was commanded by captain general Francisco Vázquez de Coronado under the sponsorship of Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza. The exploratory party ranged over northern Mexico, across New Mexico, and well into the Great Plains before realizing its goals would not be found.

This talk focuses on research done at a large ancestral village on the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. Results from 13 years of field investigation highlight the cultural clashes, history-changing events, and long-lasting effects of the expedition upon pueblo peoples of the area. Popular misconceptions about the Coronado exploration will be addressed in light of recently gained understanding about the first contact between outsiders and Indigenous peoples of the Southwest.