The most important place I passed was the town of Santiago de Papasquiaro, which is of some size, and situated in a rich agricultural country. The name of the place means possibly "paz quiero" ("I want peace"), alluding to the terrible defeat of the Indians by the Spaniards in the seventeenth century. There is reason to believe that before 1593 this central and western part of Durango had been traversed and peopled by whites, and that many Spaniards had established haciendas in various parts of the valley. They held their own successfully against the Tepehuanes until 1616, when these, together with the Tarahumares and other tribes, rebelled against them. All the natives rose simultaneously, killed the missionaries, burned the churches, and drove the Spaniards away. A force of Indians estimated at 25,000 marched against the city of Durango, carrying fear everywhere, and threatening to exterminate the Spanish; but the governor of the province gathered together the whites to the number of 600, “determined to maintain in peace the province which his Catholic Majesty had placed under his guardianship.” He routed the enemy, leaving on the field more than 15,000 dead insurgents, without great loss to his own troops. The Indians then sued for peace, and after their leaders had been duly punished, they were dispersed to form pueblos. The insurrection lasted over a year, and many bloody encounters between the natives and their new masters occurred in the course of the following centuries, the result being that the Indians in the State of Durango have not been able to maintain themselves, except in the extreme northern and southern sections.
There was an epidemic of typhoid fever in some of these ranch-villages, and in one place I saw two dogs hung up in a tree near the road, having been killed on account of hydrophobia. A strong wind was blowing day and night on the llanos along the river-course, which annoyed us not a little. It was a real relief to get up again on the sierra, about fourteen miles south of Papasquiaro, and find ourselves once more among the quiet pines and madronas.
Winter in the High Sierra—Mines—Pueblo Nuevo and Its Amiable Padre—A Ball in My Honour—Sancta Simplicitas—A Fatiguing Journey to the Pueblo of Lajas and the Southern Tepehuanes—Don’t Travel After Nightfall!—Five Days Spent in Persuading People to Pose Before the Camera—The Regime of Old Missionary Times—Strangers Carefully Excluded—Everybody Contemplating Marriage is Arrested—Shocking Punishments for Making Love—Bad Effects of the Severity of the Laws.
The sierra for several days’ journey southward is about 9,000 feet high, and is not inhabited, except in certain seasons by people who bring their cattle here to graze. I doubt whether anyone ever lived here permanently. The now extinct tribes, to whose territory this region belonged, dwelt, no doubt, in the valleys below. The high plateau consists of small hills, and travelling at first is easy, but it becomes more and more rough as one approaches the big, broad Barranca de Ventanas.