Mexico gained independence from Spain when the Mexican War of Independence ended in 1821. The territory of the newly formed Mexican state included the American Southwest and California. The Plan of Iguala set forth the ideals for the new country, including doing away with all legal distinctions regarding Indians and affirming that Indians were to be citizens of Mexico on an equal basis with non-Indians.
In his book Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico, and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533-1960, Edward H. Spicer reports:
“The Plan of Iguala had insisted on no racial distinctions for citizenship, and the federal constitution adopted in 1821 pursued this course.”
Edward H. Spicer also reports:
“All Mexican-born persons were to be citizens, and all citizens were guaranteed equal protection in the political life.”
According to the Plan:
“All the inhabitants of New Spain, without distinction, whether Europeans, Africans or Indians are citizens of the Monarchy, with the rights to be employed in any post, according to merits and virtues.”
Edward H. Spicer writes:
“By making the Mexican people one, and by legalizing their human rights, both political and economic, the friction between ‘the castes,’ fostered by Spanish distinctions of race and birth, would disappear and open the way to vigorous nationhood and economic progress.”
Briefly described below are some of the American Indian events in the Mexican-controlled Southwest in 1822.
The Comanches, who are linguistically closely related to the Shoshones, began their migration into the Southern Plains about 1500 CE. In the 1700s, they became horse-mounted buffalo hunters.
In Texas, the Comanche under the leadership of Pisinampe came to Béxar to negotiate a peace treaty with the Mexicans. Once they agreed upon the terms, a Comanche delegation went to Mexico City to sign the formal treaty. The new treaty called for peace and friendship between the Comanche and Mexico. All prisoners were to be returned, except for those wishing to remain. The Comanche were to trade only at Béxar.
The Comanche delegation led by Guonique was escorted to Mexico City by Mexican troops. The Comanche witnessed the coronation of Agustín Iturbide as Emperor of Mexico. They then signed a formal treaty between the Comanche Nation and the Mexican Empire. Historian Pekka Hamalainen, in his book The Comanche Empire, writes:
“The grandiose title not withstanding, the treaty bespoke Mexico City’s desperate need to reach a settlement with the Comanches, who controlled the balance of power in Mexico’s far northern borderlands.”
In Texas, the alliance between the Comanches and the Lipan Apaches ended. The Lipan Apaches kill several Comanche men who were married to Lipan Apache women. The Lipan Apaches migrated south to escape the Comanches.
The Athabascan-speaking ancestors of the Navajos migrated from Canada into the Southwest sometime between 800 CE and 1500 CE. The Navajos borrowed farming from their Pueblo neighbors. They located their fields in the lowlands and raised corn, beans, and pumpkins
In New Mexico, the newly formed Mexican government negotiated a treaty with the Navajos. Under the treaty, Segundo was now recognized as the head chief of the Navajos. The treaty called for an exchange of prisoners and the freedom of the Navajos to travel and trade throughout New Mexico.
The Mexican government then appointed a new governor for the New Mexico territory who ignored the previous treaty. The new governor sent the Navajos an ultimatum to return prisoners, to convert to Catholicism, and to resettle in villages around the missions. Historian Douglas Richmond, in an article in the New Mexico Historical Review, reports:
“The new governor ignored the fact that previous Spanish attempts to resettle the Navajos had failed.”
The Kadohadacho tribe, from which the designation Caddo originates, were a farming people who occupied the area around the Great Bend of the Red River in Texas. At the time of the first contact with the French and Spanish explorers, the Caddos were associated in three or four loose confederations.
The newly formed Mexican government offered a treaty to the Caddos in Texas. Chief Dehahuit indicated that he had no trouble swearing allegiance to the Mexicans, but he could not accept the treaty provisions which required the acceptance of the Catholic faith. According to Dehahuit, he was unable to sign this treaty:
“…to accept the Catholic Religion and exclude all others, because one cannot speak their opinions for a people, especially concerning their Religions.”
The traditional Cherokee homelands were in the Southeast but following the creation of the United States some Cherokees moved west of the Mississippi River to escape the oppression of the Americans. In 1794, Cherokee leader The Bowl (1756-1839; also known as Diwali) led his people into Spanish territory.
In Texas, the Cherokees under the leadership of Richard Fields met with the provincial governor in San Antonio and signed a treaty. Under the treaty, the Cherokees were granted the right to reside in Texas.
The Cherokees under the leadership of Richard Fields moved from their settlement near present-day Dallas to a forested area in east Texas north, of the Spanish fort of Nacogdoches. The Cherokees moved because of continuing conflicts with the Plains tribes which resulted in the deaths of nearly one-third of the Cherokee warriors.
Many Shawnees left Missouri to join the Cherokees and others under the leadership of The Bowl (Chief Bowles) in Texas. The Shawnee, numbering about 1,000 people with 270 warriors, petitioned Mexican authorities for land.
Twice each week—on Tuesdays and Thursdays—this series presents American Indian topics. More nineteenth-century histories from this series—
Indians 101: John Payne and the Cherokee
Indians 101: Russian Castaways and the Indians
Indians 101: Kansas Land Sharks and the Kickapoo
Indians 101: The United States and the Pueblos
Indians 101: The Republic of Texas & the Comanche
Indians 101: The Republic of Texas & the Cherokee
Indians 101: The Russians and the Tlingit
Indians 101: Mexico and American Indians 200 years ago, 1821