At the Rancherķa of the Jediondos

On January 17,1684, the Mendoza-Lopez expedition encountered a native group called the Jediondos (or Gediondos) and stopped about 2.5 miles from their ranchería. The Spanish were greeted with displays of joy and welcome and a week-long stay ensued, described in some detail in the expedition’s diary.

Mounted on horseback, the Gediondo captains and their people, traveling on foot, came forth to meet the expedition. The native peoples carried a heavy, well-made wooden cross, roughly six-feet tall and painted in red and yellow, along with a flag made of white taffeta, adorned in the middle with two blue taffeta crosses. The leaders of both parties fired shots in salute. The two friars accompanying the expedition, Nicolas Lopez and Juan de Sabaleta, dropped to their knees, and kissed the cross carried by the natives. In return, the Gediondo kissed the frocks of the priests.

At the ranchería, the expedition members were met by joyous women and children. Mendoza and his party were offered several huts made of tule reed (similar to cattails) for their stay, but the visitors declined, setting up camp instead on a nearby rise, as was the custom of war. In his camp, which he named San Ygnacio de Loyola, the Spanish leader awaited word of a large attack that was to be made on the Gediondo to steal their horses. Great fear about the Apache was expressed by the Gediondo and other native peoples gathered at the site. A meeting was requested by Juan Sabeata, the Jumano leader, and the captains of all the other Indian nations staying there. In unison, the Indian leaders asked Mendoza “for the love of God, to make war on their common enemy, the Apache.” Mendoza agreed, and Sabeata and the other captains were pleased. As a gift, they offered the Spanish deer skins (gamusas) to make clothing or leather jackets for battle. During the week, the party killed 27 buffalo to provide a store of meat. They departed, en masse, on January 24, 1684, heading northward for a journey that was to take them into the Concho valley and along the “river of pearls.”

Credits: The account above is based on UT-Austin anthropology professor Mariah Wade’s translation and annotation of the diary of the Mendoza-Lopez expedition, featured in her 2003 book, The Native Americans of the Texas Edwards Plateau, 1582-1799 (University of Texas Press). Wade has also approximated the locations of the various stops made by the expedition.