Farm & Ranch Museum Director and award-winning author Mark Santiago is our speaker for this month’s Culture Series. His talk will examine two separate but related incidents that demonstrate the complex and violent interactions between the Apaches and the Spanish in New Mexico during the mid-18th Century. In 1754, Spanish authorities in Santa Fe were surprised when their allies at Zuni Pueblo delivered a Spanish subject from the neighboring province of Sonora. The Zuni had liberated this captive after they had attacked an Apache encampment in what is now southwestern New Mexico. The odyssey this man endured illustrated for the Spanish authorities the vast distances over which their seemingly never-ending war with the Apaches truly encompassed. Several months later, the Spaniards launched a punitive expedition of their own, when they dispatched a substantial force from Santa Fe to harass the Apaches. Disguising their movements by mixing with the yearly caravan that travelled to El Paso for trade and supplies along the Jornada del Muerto, Spanish soldiers were able to surprise and destroy two large encampments of Apaches. Despite their success, in the long run these actions merely perpetuated the vicious cycle of raid and counter-raid, and the need for revenge, that would be the hallmark of Spanish and Apache relations for decades to come.
Mark Santiago has served as the Farm & Ranch Museum’s director since 2006, and was director of the New Mexico Museum of Space History for six years before coming to Las Cruces. A native of Arizona, his most-recent book, “A Bad Peace and a Good War: Spain and the Mescalero Apache Uprising of 1795-99” earned him the 2019 Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá Award, which is presented annually by the Historical Society of New Mexico to the author of an outstanding publication in New Mexico or Southwest borderlands history. He also is author of “The Jar of Severed Hands: Spanish Deportations of Apache Prisoners of War, 1770-1810.”