Border cuates: a history of the U.S.-Mexican twin cities by Milo Kearney

By Milo Kearney

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Even the mission Indians, fighting with bows and arrows under their own Indian captains, joined in the common defense against the fierce Apaches and Comanches. There was little local food production and even less currency to buy imported goods. The simple thatched-roof cane and mud jacales contained almost no furniture. As was typical of a frontier, women were in short supply, and the Hispanic men fraternized with the Indian women to produce a rapid blending of the two blood groups. Also, Page 14 Page 15 the custom of holding stock and land in common maintained a certain egalitarianism.

9 For the first generation of residents in Paso del Norte, this isolation brought vulnerability to constant harrowing Indian attacks. This simmering dilemma boiled over in the 1680s. The crisis announced itself with the arrival in September 1680 of 1,946 bedragled refugees from the Spanish colony of New Mexico. The Pueblo Indians had exploded into rebellion, and the Spanish rule in New Mexico had collapsed. This development left Paso del Norte as the northernmost outpost of Nueva España, bearing the full pressure of maintaining the border.

The murder of the friars in New Mexico acted as a warning for those who would follow, but did not prevent them from doing so. The efforts of the fathers in the Pueblo Indian area led to the founding of the Spanish colony of New Mexico in 1598 under Juan de Oñate as its first governor. This step increased the strategic importance of the Paso del Norte area for maintaining contact between Mexico and New Mexico. 2 When Oñate in his turn despaired of finding significant wealth in New Mexico, it was again the friars who kept the core commitment to the colony, on whose fate hung that of the Paso del Norte area as well.

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