1st Wednesday Lecture: Blurred Borders: Apache Acculturation & Adaptation During the Last Decades of Spanish Rule

This month’s Friends of History 1st Wednesday Lecture was delivered by Dr. Matthew Babcock, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas at Dallas. The streaming of the video was followed by a livestreamed Q&A which is at the bottom of this post.

This lecture will focus on the forgotten Chihene Apache farming experiment at Sabinal, New Mexico from 1790-1795 by placing it in the context of Apache-Spanish relations and Spanish Indian policy. In response to drought and military pressure, thousands of Apaches de paz settled near Spanish presidios after 1786 in a system of reservation-like establecimientos, or settlements, stretching from Laredo to Tucson. On paper the establecimientos constituted the earliest and most extensive set of military-run reservations in the Americas. Yet, Apaches de paz typically exhibited mixed loyalties, sometimes serving Spanish interests, and other times subverting them, demonstrating the limits of indigenous assimilation into imperial states.

Matthew Babcock is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas at Dallas and the author of Apache Adaptation to Hispanic Rule, published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. He earned his Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University, his M.A. from the University of New Mexico, and his B.A. from Dartmouth College. His research focuses on the history of North American borderlands, American Indians, and the colonial Southwest. Dr Babcock can be reached at: Matthew.Babcock@untdallas.edu

Friends of History is a volunteer support group for the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Its mission is to raise funds and public awareness for the Museum’s exhibitions and programs. Friends of History fulfills its mission by offering high quality public history programs, including the First Wednesday Lecture Series. For more information, or to join the Friends of History, go to friends-of-history.org or email us here.

From the Collection

NMHM/DCA 11837.45

A 19th century measuring box known as a media fanega (or a half fanega). It is made of milled pine and enforced with metal strips, and has a leather handle. A fanega was an old Spanish unit of measurement usually used to measure grains. The measure varied from region to region in the Spanish-speaking Americas.
This object is just one of approximately 16,000 objects in the history museum’s collections. These objects are not just used for exhibit, but are often used for research.

Recently, a scholar studying the different Spanish units of measurement requested dimensions of several of these measuring units. From these internal dimensions, he calculated this media fanega at 2,428.3 cubic inches. His research calculates that an official standard set by the 1852 New Mexico territorial legislature for the unit measurement of the media fanega was 2,476.25 cubic inches. Thus, he determined that of all the media fanegas in the museum’s collection from that time period, this media fanega was the closest to that official measurement.

The collections staff thanks all the scholars and researchers who continue to provide extended knowledge to our object records.