The march of Coronado having for its immediate object the discovery of Quivira began at Cicuye. This pueblo had been by many identified with the ruins of Pecos. If we accept Mr. Dellenbaugh’s location of Tiguex, the village of Cicuye was far south of the Pecos ruin. The direction from Cicuye was to the east by south, coming out on the Llano Estacado, where the buffalo herds were found in such numbers. Following the buffalo were found two plains tribes, the Querechos and the Teyas, now supposed to have been the Tonkawas of West-central Texas, and the Comanches. The Turk was put forward always to speak first to these wanderers. Then they confirmed to the Spaniards what the Turk had said from the beginning. The march had deflected more and more to the south. When the halt was called at the ravine—the valley of some plains-river—it is said by most students that Coronado was in North Texas, possibly on the Brazos, the Trinity, or the Colorado. It is most likely that he was then in Central Texas. For it is confidently asserted by some accounts that he was at a village which Cabeza de Vaca had passed through in his escape from captivity.

There the Teyas of Cona were questioned before the Turk was permitted to converse with them. They said that there was indeed a country called Quivira, but that it was not to be found in the direction in which they were traveling. It was in the North, or “towards the north,” and to reach it the army would have to right about and change its course. It was at Cona that the Turk was thrown into chains.

The information imparted by the Teyas of Cona turned Coronado, with thirty horsemen and a few followers to the north, as we have seen. They were told that they would find no good road to Quivira, and we know that the rivers running eastward over the Great Plains had to be crossed by the army. Most writers now draw a straight north-and-south line across the map, with a ruler, from Texas to a point on the Arkansas River just west of its turn to make the Great Bend, for this march of Coronado from the Cona towns to the borders of Quivira. The authority for this is the accidental phrase “by the needle” used in describing the march.

When we come to drive down a stake and say—”To this point came Coronado”—we find it quite impossible. The information which would enable us to do this does not exist. Writers find themselves unable to agree when it comes to fixing these definite locations. They usually develop some theory of locations and routes, then try to prove that they are right. The indefinite authorities which we possess encourage this sort of writing. Here are some of the locations of Quivira:—

  1. Bandalier places Quivira in Northeastern Kansas.
  2. L. B. Prince says Quivira was on the Missouri above Kansas City and below Omaha.
  3. General J. H. Simpson located Quivira on the Kansas-Nebraska line some distance back from the Missouri.
  4. Hubert Howe Bancroft is of the opinion that Quivira was in Kansas somewhere between the Arkansas and the Missouri.
  5. Haynes thinks Coronado crossed Kansas and reached the Platte.
  6. Winship’s judgment is that Quivira was the country about the convergence of the main branches of the Kansas River.
  7. Hodge marks Quivira as extending from the Arkansas, near Great Bend, to the Republican, which stream he makes the east boundary of the country of the Pawnees.
  8. Mr. Twitchell, in his Leading Facts of New Mexican History, copies the map of Mr. Hodge.
  9. Dellenbaugh maps Quivira as embracing Southeastern Kansas and adjacent regions.
  10. Houck in his history of Missouri makes a strong case for his state, insisting that the mountain ranges which rose to view on the march are the Ozarks, and that these were skirted by Coronado as he passed into Southwest Missouri.
  11. Basket, Richey, and Dunbar agree with Winship.
  12. Other writers insist on still other locations. There is evidence for each of these locations, and by very ingenious reasoning probability is found for most of them.

On one point writers practically agree—Quivira was in what is now Kansas. That may be taken as settled beyond question. This old Indian Country may have lapped over and spread its bounds into Nebraska or Missouri or Oklahoma, but it was mainly on the Kansas plains that it was certainly seated. The Spaniards sent other expeditions to Quivira, among them one under Onate in 1601. Some portion of the route of this trip was mapped. That this expedition found Quivira villages on the Arkansas near the present city of Wichita, there is scarcely any doubt.

If we are to believe Gregg and other Santa Fe traders when they tell of the terrible sufferings for water endured by the first parties who attempted to use the “cut off,” or shorter route from the Arkansas by way of the Cimarron, we can not think it possible that Coronado marched “by the needle” from Central Texas, or any point in Texas, to the Arkansas west of the great north bend in June and July. And from Quivira, mountains could be seen to the east. This is asserted by the old chroniclers. Most modern writers ignore this fact.

If the line of march from Central Texas, or North-central Texas, was “northward” as some of the old records have it—and that would pass through a country of grass and water in midsummer—it would strike the Arkansas River thirty leagues below the Quivira towns, though these distances are always uncertain. Thirty leagues may have been really but ten or twenty leagues, and perhaps sixty or ninety leagues. No dependence can be put on these statements of distances. That it was the Arkansas River which was thus reached must be the meaning of the Relation del Suceso. Here is the language:

“After he had proceeded many days by the needle” [here the editor had inserted “i. e., to the north.” Even with the editor’s doctoring, the text does not say the march was due north] “we found the river Quivira, which is 30 leagues below the settlement. While going up the valley, we found people who were going hunting, who were natives of Quivira.”

The river was called Quivira River, and must be the same named St. Peter and St. Paul by others, that is, the Arkansas. A fair interpretation of the language would be that Coronado struck the Arkansas thirty leagues below the Quivira towns. For they immediately started up the valley, not down the valley, as they must have gone had they crossed at the west turn of the great bend. While going up the Quivira River to the Quivira settlement they came upon the people, native Quivirans, who were there hunting the buffalo. The point where Coronado came to the Quivira River may have been at any point from the mouth of the Grand or Neosho to the mouth of the Walnut. Up the Arkansas from these regions, Quivira villages were found in 1601. They were near where Wichita now stands, and they may have extended eastward across the country to the Walnut. The only evidence except the phrase “by the needle” to support the direct north-and-south march is that the river (St. Peter and St. Paul) turned northeast below the crossing.

To locate Quivira as it surely lay in Coronado’s day there must be mountains on its eastern border—mountains, not hills nor river-bluffs. And for this range we can depend only on the Ozarks. Castaneda says:

“Quivira is …. in the midst of the country somewhat near the mountains toward the sea. For the country is level as far as Quivira, and there they began to see some mountain chains.”

The waters of the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico, were at that time known as the North Sea, and these mountains were toward that sea. The hills in Butler, Elk and Chautauqua counties in Kansas, and their continuation in the present Osage country in Oklahoma, are the outlying flanking hills of the Ozarks to the west. They must be the first hills or the beginnings of “some mountain chains” which Coronado and his company saw. It is possible that Castaneda supposed the Ozarks to be the Appalachian Mountains along the Atlantic seaboard, when he said “near the mountains toward the sea.”

On the west Quivira was never set in bounds. It ran over the Great Plains, but to what extent it embraced them there is nothing to tell. It may be asserted that the Arkansas River was its south boundary. And the country whose waters drain into the river from the north—down to the mouth of the Neosho or Grand—was most likely the ancient Quivira. And it may have included the prairie lands of Southwest Missouri and Northwest Arkansas. When all the accounts are considered this location of the mystic and half-mythical old land appears most probable. The preponderance of evidence is in favor of it. But this location—nor any other—can be established beyond controversy. It is one of those unfortunate historical matters not capable of complete and satisfactory settlement. The only definite thing about it is that it was in Kansas. It had persisted through all vicissitudes to attach and cling to Kansas. For years it drifted about. It was located even in Alaska. It haunted the Pacific Coast. It adorned maps of the mountains “where rolls the Oregon.” It was seized as a name for a squalid pueblo village far down the Rio Grande. But these vagaries have vanished. Kansas is Quivira and Quivira is Kansas.

It had been determined perhaps beyond all question that the Quiverans were of the Caddoan linguistic stock of North American Indians. From the account of the houses found by Coronado in Quivira it had been determined that the Quivirans were the Indians known in modern times as the Wichitas. They lived along the Arkansas and there is no evidence that they ever did live on or along the Kansas River.

According to Jaramillo, Quivira and Harahey formed one country and one government,—and had a single ruler or chief. “The general wrote a letter here to the governor of Harahey and Quivira, etc.” And in the same paragraph—”The general sent to summon the lord of those parts and other Indians who they said resided in Harahey, and he came with about 200 men.”

We know that the Pawnees lived on the Big Blue Biver. One of their oldest villages was on the site of the present Blue Springs, in Gage County, Nebraska. In Coronado’s time they ranged almost to the Missouri. Du Tisne found them on the Neosho in 1719. And we may well believe they roamed to the western limits of the buffalo plains. The Kansas did not ascend the Kansas River at all until long after Coronado’s day. The theorists make the Pawnees the inhabitants of Harahey, a country to the north of Quivira. This may have been the case, for the Wichitas and Pawnees are both of the Caddoan family. That there was any rigidly defined line between their countries and hunting grounds is not probable.4 And Quivira may have embraced all the country of the Pawnees, as well as that of the Wichitas. For the Caddoan people seem to have occupied the country both north and south of the Arkansas River to the line beyond the Platte. Toward the Missouri their bounds may he deflned by an irregular line from near the Mississippi and the Missouri to the Loup Country in Nebraska, should the location of Quivira as proposed in this study prove correct. But it is not to be supposed that this country was all occupied at the same time. These people occupied their country just as all Indian tribes did their domains. They lived in groups of huts along some stream and claimed a vast surrounding hunting-ground. Sometimes their claims were undisputed, but they were usually contested. Their squalid villages were always temporary, and they were moved for the most trivial causes.

Coronado spent several weeks in the exploration of Quivira. He says he reached the fortieth parallel, now the line between Kansas and Nebraska. There is no reason to question this claim. He noted the fertility of the soil and described some of the products of the country. When he was ready to return, native Quivirans—Wichita or Pawnee Indians—told him how to get back to New Mexico. They may have shown him the way. It was probably that ancient path known as the Old Santa Fe Trail, as had already been stated, but not as it was most used in later days. Water could not have been found on that route in the season of his departure. He must have gone up the Arkansas to the point where the trail was crossed by the great trading road which skirted the front range of the Rocky Mountains. This crossing was where Bent’s Fort was afterward erected. From that point the descent to the Rio Grande could be safely made at any time of the year.

Another student, and a very thorough one, finds it impossible to accept the conclusions of the majority of writers on this subject. Rev. Michael A. Shine, Plattsmouth, Nebraska, had made an exhaustive study of the available authorities. The results of his investigations are to be found in his pamphlet, The Lost Province of Quivira, published in 1916. A good summary of it is contained in his letter to the author, dated May 3, 1916, from which the following quotation is made:—

The march outward of the Army was 150 leagues or 395 miles from Tiguex on the Rio Grande—i. e., 25 leagues to Pecos, 15 leagues to the Bridge over Gallinas River, 40 leagues to Querechos Settlements and 20 leagues to the Buffalo Ravine or Mustang Creek in Texas—total 100 leagues, then southeast to Red River where the 101st Meridian crosses it. 50 leagues from here the army returned home—68 leagues to Ft. Sumner on the Pecos River—32 leagues from there to the Bridge and 40 leagues from the Bridge to Tiguex—Total, 142 leagues or 8 leagues less than the outward march. (A league=2.63 miles.)

From the Red River Coronado went straight north on the 101st Meridian—180 leagues, which brought him to the Platte River, which is just 175 leagues or 460 miles. This allows 5 leagues or 13 miles for detours and deviations in the journey north. The Platte is St. Peter & St. Paul’s River.

From the crossing of the Platte at the 101st Meridian going northeast 16 days or 72 leagues or 190 miles would bring them to the junction of Beaver Creek with the Loup River—in the vicinity of the present city of Geneva. This was always, even in ancient times, the home of the Skidi or Pawnee Loups. Quivira is the Spanish pronunciation of the name of these people—Skidi-ra—or Wolf people, like Harahey—Arache and Tareque—Ariki-ra, or Horn People, who lived then between the Elkhorn and Missouri Rivers.

Coronado returned to the Platte Crossing and then went southwest to the junction of the Purgatoire river with the Arkansas in Colorado—from there still southwest to the 1st Querechos village—where they were led astray and then back on his original trace to the Bridge, etc. No astronomical observation was taken for the Latitude—it was computed as follows: 180 leagues north—over 6 degrees of latitude. (26 leagues in a degree.) They went south over 30 leagues—below the Bridge or Tiguex (the 36th degree), hence they went into the 34th degree—then north over 6 degrees brought them into the 40th degree as Coronado states.

Now the real latitude of Tiguex is the 35th degree—hence going north over 6 degrees brought them into the 41st degree—which is where I have located Quivira, and exactly where they found it.

This is a further confirmation of the position that there is not sufficient evidence in the records at hand to place the location of Quivira within exact bounds, or beyond controversy.

That Father Shine had discovered and fixed the origin of the name Quivira is possible. That the Skidi Pawnees lived above the Platte in 1541, however, is not established. They may have lived there then. But it is probable that they lived on the Arkansas at that time.