El Arcangel San Migel

The Place where the Dogs Live

On February 2,1684, the Mendoza-Lopez expedition camped along a river at a site they named El Arcangel San Migel. A spring, issuing from within a rocky site, apparently fed the river. The spot was called “the Place where the Dogs Live” (donde viven los perros). According to the diary of the expedition, the name was given because:

a great many dogs of all colors came out of the water. These dogs were the same size as other dogs and of the same species, although raised in the water. The writer was told that they were more fierce, tearing up people as well as buffalo cows and bulls that came to drink right to the spring mouth. The writer, who found this very peculiar, stated that he saw buffalo bones as well as the excrement and tracks of dogs.

The river had good, clear water, flowing to the east where it joined with the "river of shells," the Concho River. In the area, the expedition found abundant plant resources, including vine-shoots in the groves (bosques), prickly pear, and pecans (nogales). The party was delighted to eat the nuts, as they had been subsisting mainly on meat. The expedition diarist reported that the turkeys (or prairie chickens) made tremendous noise at dawn.

The party stayed at the site for two and a half days, during which time the Apache stole nine horses. Seven horses belonged to the Jumano, which may indicate that there were at least seven captains of the Jumano accompanying the expedition.

(The above account is taken from the translation of the Mendoza-Lopez diary made by Mariah Wade, with her comments, in her book, Native Peoples of the Edwards Plateau, 1582-1799 (University of Texas Press, 2002).

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