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After months of travel in a northerly and then in a northeasterly direction, Coronado and his army reached the province of Cibola, which was probably in the western part of what is now New Mexico, and the "Seven Cities" proved to be ordinary adobe Indian villages. They took possession of the Indian supplies and spent the winter in the villages.

The Indians, anxious to get rid of their unwelcome visitors, persuaded a Quivira Indian, whom they held as a prisoner, to tell the Spaniards tales of the wonderful land of Quivira in order to lead them off into the wilderness where they would die from lack of food and water. Coronado and his men listened to this Indian, whom they called "Turk," and followed him as a guide for many days. He led them steadily toward the east, and after a time they became convinced that they were being deceived and made him confess that Quivira was far to the northward. They had been only too willing to listen to Turk's stories, but when Generated they learned that he had misled them they put him to death. Supplies were now low and Coronado sent back the main body of the army, which was composed of footmen, and with thirty horsemen started northward.

Coronado in Kansas

It must be remembered that the whole country was a vast wilderness without names or boundary lines, and we can describe the journey of the Spaniards only by using names and boundary lines that have come into existence long since that time. As nearly as can be learned, Coronado and his men entered Kansas about where Clark County now is,and went on northward, crossing the Arkansas River at or near the site of Dodge City. From this point they followed the river to Great Bend, and then continued in a northeasterly direction to the vicinity of Junction City. At the end of their journey they set up a cross bearing the inscription: "Francisco Vasqueth de Coronado, commander of an expedition, arrived at this place.

Quivira Found

After all this weary journey they had reached Quivira and found it to be merely the home of a tribe of Indians, the Quiviras, later known as the Pawnees. Coronado wrote in a letter to the King of Spain: "The country itself is the best I have ever seen for producing all of the fruits of Spain, for, besides the land itself being very fat and black, and being very well watered by rivulets, springs, and rivers, I found prunes like those in Spain and nuts and very good sweet grapes and mulberries. I remained twenty-five days in this province of Quivira, both to see and explore the country, and to find out whether there was anything beyond which could be of service to your Majesty, because the guides who had brought me had given me an account of other provinces beyond this. And what I am sure of is that there is not any gold or any other metal in all that country, and the other things of which they told me are nothing but little villages, and in many of these they do not plant anything, and do not have any houses, except of skins and sticks, and they wander around with the cows. So that the account they gave me was false, because they wanted to get me to go there with the whole force, believing that as the way was through such uninhabitable deserts, and from lack of water they would get us where our horses and we would die of thirst. And the guides confessed this, and they said they did it by the advice of the natives of these provinces."

Coronado's Return to New Spain

Empty-handed, Coronado and his little band of Spanish knights turned toward New Spain and carried to their waiting countrymen the disappointing story of their two years' expedition. With this event fifty years had passed since the discovery of America, and for the next two and a half centuries little attention was paid to the Kansas country.

Summary

The history of Kansas begins with the first exploration of this country by white men nearly four hundred years ago. Spain was the first nation to explore the New World. The chief purpose of the Spaniards was to find gold. They had heard from the Indians of rich cities to the northward, and when Cabeza de Vaca told them similar tales the people of New Spain decided to explore the country. They sent Coronado with a large army on a journey of exploration lasting two years. He failed to find gold, but his expedition is of interest because he was the first white man known to have traversed what is now Kansas.

Source: A History of Kansas by Anna E. Arnold. pp. 11-14