Despite its title this slim volume, number xv of the History Series published by the Mexican Instituto Nacional, has given only a brief and unsatisfactory glimpse of the “Indian Rebellions in Northeast Mexico during the colonial era.” The author, in fact, admits that her real focus has been upon the history of colonization in northeast Mexico, rather than upon the region’s Indian wars. She moved away from her earlier and more narrow study, she said, when she found that “the Indian rebellions were, in great measure, the result of the lack of solidity and stability which afflicted the political, social, and economic organization of the colony in this vast territorial precinct” (Introduction, p. 11). However debatable this view, she used it to justify devoting about sixty-five pages of her study to the consideration of the area’s geographic features and the history of its colonization and evangelization, along with outstanding aspects of a political, social, and economic nature. The general period studied is that from 1567 to 1755 (though little is done to establish the significance of the dates given); the area involved is defined as including the present Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas, plus the eastern sections of Chihuahua and Durango.
The real need for a study concentrated upon the colonial history of northeast Mexico can hardly be debated; that this author has failed in her effort to provide one is hardly less debatable. Her grasp of the general history of colonial Mexico is weak, her knowledge of the output of modern scholarship inadequate. She has apparently used Mexican archival resources in her studies of the Indian wars of the northeast area, but she shows little acquaintance with the work of others who have used these resources, plus those of Spain. She has utilized the work of her mentor, Wigberto Jiménez Moreno, and she does show familiarity with some writings of François Chevalier and Vito Alessio Robles. There is no indication, however, of any acquaintance with Philip Wayne Powell’s Soldiers, Indians, and Silver or the periodical articles which Powell has published over the years bearing upon this subject. She also seems unaware of many scholarly materials, published and unpublished, which would have provided her with data upon frontier defense, missionary activity, and economic, social, and political institutions and agencies, as well as information of a more immediately anthropological nature. It is no excuse that many of these studies are the product of United States scholars and the result of their interest in borderland and Mexican history and anthropology. Surely neither Mexican scholarly training nor Mexican library resources are so inadequate that studies of this slight worth should be published.