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Agency

Caddo Archeology Journal

Abstract

In 1690, Alonso de Leon arrived in East Texas to establish two missions among the Asinai. He was accompanied by Fr. Fontcuberta, Fr. Casanas, Fr. Bordoy, Fr. Massanet, and Brother Antonio. Fr. Massanet returned to Mexico to inform the Viceroy about the trip, and came back to East Texas with Teran de Los Rios in August 1691. Fr. Fontcuberta died in February 1691 of an epidemic that, according to Fr. Casanas, killed about 3,000 natives in the area. Fr. Casanas who died in New Mexico in 1696, left us the first intimate view of the Caddoan-speaking groups in East Texas. Casanas Relacion was written in spurts and delivered to Teran de los Rios in August 1691. The Teran expedition brought to the Asinai Fr. Hidalgo who stayed about two years. In 1716, Fr. Hidalgo returned to Texas with Fr. Espinosa. While in the Asinai Province, the social conditions, the environment for learning and the interests of the three friars were quite different. We have found little archival material from Hidalgo, and Espinosa s style and education provide a disengaged narrative that loses flavor and re-uses some of the material provided by the other friars.

The arrival of the Spaniards did not match native expectations. The Asinai wanted a Spanish community composed of families that would live side-by-side with them and would provide a measure of protection and prestige, as well as trade opportunities. Instead they got seven single males: four friars and three soldiers. Casanas grappled with a new language and its dialects, unfamiliar social and religious practices, a major epidemic in 1691 that deeply affected the relationship between Europeans and Natives, and very poor harvests in 1691 and 1692. His Relacion, which serves as a colonial baseline, was created while learning, attempting to proselytize and surviving. Casanas Relacion is constructed from several kinds of knowledge: what he saw, experienced, and was told.

Casanas did not travel beyond the Asinai Province, nor could he: most of the time there were only two other friars and three soldiers, and between February and August 1691 Casanas was left with one companion and two soldiers. At first, Casanas was at Mission San Francisco de los Tejas because he only established Mission Santisimo Nombre de Maria (hereafter shown as S.N. de Maria) in October 1690. From 1690 through 1691 he probably remained at S. N. de Maria where he was met by Teran on August 4. 1691. Unlike Hidalgo and Espinosa, most of the information related by Casanas concerns the political and religious structure and the practices of the people in the Asinai Province. In this article I will concentrate on two issues: first, what can we learn about the location of the nations belonging to the Asinai Province using the archival materials from these friars, and second what cosmological and religious changes occurred between the period of Casanas and Hidalgo, and the period of Hidalgo and Espinosa. I should add that all the evidence to be presented, except for obvious exceptions. is based completely on the archival materials mentioned.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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