In spite of its isolation and its largely semi-desert nature, the peninsula of California has been the setting for forms of life and events sometimes paradoxical and almost always of remarkable interest. The adaptation to a hostile environment by Baja California’s ancient indigenous populations with their very precarious cultural development, the unsuccessful attempts at colonization during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the difficult establishment of the missions and the processes of change that were introduced with them, the extraordinary decrease of inhabitants that ensued, the moments when the peninsula was on the verge of being taken from Mexico and, finally, the effort entailed in Baja California’s gradual incorporation into the life of the rest of the country, along with its contemporary transformation?these are the main chapters of the little-known history of the California that continues to be forever Mexican.
We must recognize, nevertheless, that for the majority of Mexicans, during a good part of the period of national independence this peninsula has been largely forgotten. And this in spite of the fact that its vast geographic reality alone?150,000 square kilometers?ought to have been more than sufficient reason for the nation to focus its interest on the peninsula in some manner. Baja California extends from south to north for more than 1200 kilometers. Its coasts, with a multitude of bays and numerous nearby islands, have more doors and windows on the sea than do countries like Spain or France. Its shores on the Pacific and on the Sea of Cortez total about 3000 kilometers, with possibilities for fishing on the greatest scale imaginable. The interior of the peninsula, however, has had the sad reputation of being an extremely poor land, where water is found only for a wonder and where, as a consequence, agriculture and the utilization of other natural resources are extremely difficult.
But while in Mexico the attention given to the peninsula by the government was limited, the prevailing attitude in the United States was very different. Striking proof of this is evident not only by the United States’ endeavor to gain possession of Baja California in 1847, and afterwards by the series of filibusters who, proceeding from the north, proclaimed more than once an avowed republic there, but also by the impressive amount of research done on its territory by individuals and institutions from the United States. To be specific, the most extensive bibliography of Baja California has been published in the United States.1 Its author, Ellen Catherine Barret, was able to gather some five thousand titles concerning the history, geography, paleontology, archeology, meteorology, flora and fauna, agriculture and cattle-raising, marine resources, mineralogy, industry, economy and commerce, international questions, political and governmental matters and, in short, all sorts of publications on the past and the present of the peninsula. And it is necessary to recognize that among the large number of works Barret includes, a high percentage are by investigators and scholars from the United States.
The facts we have recalled to this point are only the beginning of a long account which can be made of the paradoxes of Baja California. Before looking at other particularly significant aspects of its history, it is necessary to add something which foreshadows the changes that have begun to occur there. To transform the peninsula was always almost synonymous with populating it. In this sense it is of primary importance to at least mention what its demographic evolution has been. When the Jesuits arrived toward the end of the seventeenth century, the native population, according to reliable inferences and calculations, was approximately 50,000. The implantation of a new culture, as well as frequent epidemics, apparently explain a fact that is certainly frightful: in the last third of the eighteenth century, the total population of the peninsula decreased to only about 8000 persons. During the greater part of the following century little could be done to increase this figure. On the contrary, we know that when Baja California was occupied by the North Americans in 1847, the population, far from having increased, numbered scarcely some 7500 inhabitants. Since the natives had become almost extinct, the great majority of inhabitants were immigrants from Mexico and from foreign countries. Only at the end of the nineteenth century could an incipient increase be shown: at that time there were approximately 40,000 inhabitants. In 1930 the population reached 95,000. The 1940 census registered about 130,000 for the whole peninsula. In 1950 the ancient territory which had been considered uninhabitable began to benefit from a strong demographic increment, especially in the portion bordering the United States. This was due in large part to the agricultural awakening brought about by irrigation in the Mexicali Valley. Thus, in accord with the 1950 census, in the Northern Territory there were 227,000 persons and in the Southern, slightly more than 60,000. Ten years later the computation was 602,000 inhabitants for the entire peninsula. Obviously the major part of this figure corresponded to the urban centers, principally Mexicali, Tijuana, Ensenada and Tecate, and in the south, the port of La Paz. The data obtained in 1970 showed that the federal State of Baja California had surpassed 900,000, while the other half of the peninsula, that is the Southern Territory, had approximately 135,000. A demographic development of this proportion has not been equalled elsewhere in Mexico, not even in its capital city. We must insist, however, that the presence of this million inhabitants, coming in large part from other regions of the country, has to be explained primarily by the attraction of the large urban centers situated along the border with the United States.
At the same time the population was growing, the isolation of the peninsula began to diminish. Not many years ago it took several days, and on occasion weeks, to sail in some sad vessel from a port on the Pacific (Acapulco, Mazatlán or Guaymas) to La Paz. Thanks primarily to the determination of President Lázaro Cárdenas, the first changes took place. In 1936 construction was begun on the Sonora-Baja California railway, which was destined to vanquish the Altar Desert. In 1947 the first train arrived in Mexicali from Sonora. The dream of the famous Eusebio Francisco Kino to link the peninsual permanently with the Northwest of Mexico by land thus became reality after so many years. Likewise, a short time later saw the completion of the federal highway which, starting in Tijuana, ties Baja California to Sonora and to the rest of the country. Final elimination of the ancient isolation was achieved by the airlines and the modern ferries that cross the Gulf of California, thus making possible direct communications with different parts of the peninsula. Finally, construction of the Transpeninsular Highway, now well advanced, has begun to establish an effective connection among the principal centers of the State and the Territory of Baja California.
For the inhabitants of this vast expanse of Mexico, the great changes which have occurred in the last decades appear to mark the beginning of a transformation long desired, yet thought to be next to impossible. In order to evaluate better what Baja California has become and to contemplate its future possibilities, perhaps nothing will aid us so much as considering its history, so little known and so full of surprises. Here we shall recall some of the most important moments in that past which present several paradoxes.
The ancient indigenous population
Although some archeological explorations have been carried out in the peninsula during the last decades, it is not yet possible to determine the antiquity of its first settlers nor to describe in detail the sequence of their cultural evolution. What can be stated is that the indigenous population of Baja California from the moment of first contact with people from New Spain in the sixteenth century, and likewise when the missions began to be established in the eighteenth, typified extremely primitive forms of life and culture. Without excluding the possibility that some of those first settlers may have had their origin in ancient migrations from the Pacific, it is likely that in their great majority they arrived from the north of the American continent. Their entrance, in successive waves, had as a consequence a noteworthy fact. The various groups who penetrated the peninsula little by little were trapped in a sort of bag from which it was impossible to leave, both because of the hostility of the environment and because of the pressure that later groups from the north exerted on those already established in the south. A consequence of this was what has been described as “cultural stratification,” from south to north, among the different Baja California groups.
When the Jesuits arrived, the Pericus were living in the southernmost part of the peninsula. Farther north lived the Guaicuras, divided into multiple factions and settlements. In regions still farther north, starting with what came to be the town and presidio of Loreto, one found the Cochimis, related to Yuman groups, some of whom inhabited the south of Alta California. Pericus, Guaicuras and Cochimis were not acquainted with agriculture nor with ceramics. Living almost completely naked, without real dwellings, they subsisted by hunting, gathering fruits and, in the case of those who lived in the vicinity of the shore, by fishing. Only in the extreme north of the peninsula, as the missionaries observed, did the indigenous culture exhibit other forms of development.
The natives of Baja California, who in the eighteenth century were the object of the action of the Jesuits, were to become extinct very soon as a consequence of repeated epidemics and also probably because of the radical changes imposed on their traditional way of life and their adaptation to the environment. But those groups who thus disappeared left, in spite of the primitiveness of their culture, testimonies of profound significance. Their “cultural stratification,” for example, constitutes a theme of utmost interest to those concerned with the study of different processes of evolution and possibilities of development even in extremely hostile environments. And one must make special mention of the rock paintings, visible to date in several places in the peninsula. Among the many that might be cited, we shall mention those in the celebrated San Borjita Cave near the San Baltasar Ranch not far from Mulegé. There the visitor sees paintings of individuals, some pierced by arrows, hunting scenes and semi-naturalistic representations of animals.2 There are many other paintings, like those on the rocks above the Arroyo de San Pedro, as well as on Roca de Palmito in the San Francisco Mountains. The monumentality of some of these polychrome images surely speaks of the life and beliefs of those natives who, with such a dextrous hand, succeeded in perpetuating their designs on the surface of the rock. Thus, notwithstanding the disappearance of the aborigine from Baja California, the trace of his presence in the peninsula persists. By adapting to the hostile environment, he was the first to demonstrate that life and cultural creation were possible in the isolation of that vast territory.
The history of the peninsula for a century and a half, starting in the sixteenth century, is the story of repeated failures in the various attempts to penetrate and settle it. The explanation of why numerous projects failed, one after another, is not the natural resistance that the indigenous groups might have offered. The real obstacle was the environment that, according to the explorers and navigators, presented a hostility that seemed insurmountable to any attempt to found settlements and begin the cultivation of the land without water. However, California must have had something because, in spite of everything, it continued to exert an immense attraction, not to say fascination.
The first person who truly took an interest in California was, as is well known, the man who had succeeded in defeating the powerful Aztec state, Hernán Cortés. An unmistakable sign of his Renaissance spirit and his eagerness to undertake new enterprises can be seen in his enduring determination, almost obsession, to organize expeditions in the area of the Pacific, or as it was then called, Mar del Sur. His ambition was to establish contact from New Spain with the Spice Islands and with the peoples of the Orient. This very thing was what moved him to obtain royal authorization to attempt the conquest of that great “island” or peninsula which vague reports described as a country rich in gold and pearls of great value. Cortés organized and assumed the expense of several expeditions. The first, under the command of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza in 1532 and the second, led a short time later by Diego Becerra, marked the beginning of a series of failures. In 1535 Cortés himself went into action and arrived in the land he named Tierra de Santa Cruz. Neither this attempt, to which he dedicated much time and money, nor a later one succeeded.
The extraordinary activity displayed by the Conquistador, in what can be called his frustrated South Sea undertakings, is a subject worthy of study. It is paradoxical that the conqueror of Mexico should have achieved nothing in California. But just as Cortés was to come to grief there, so did the Viceroy Mendoza who, toward 1540, ordered the departure of the expedition headed by Hernando de Alarcón, which was destined to arrive without much consequence at the north of the gulf or inland sea of California. We shall not give the list here, which is rather long, of the later equally vain attempts at colonization which occurred up to the end of the eighteenth century. In these efforts the names of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, Sebastian Vizcaíno, Nicolás de Cardona, Francisco de Ortega, Pedro Porter y Casanate and much later that of Isidro de Atondo, among others, are linked to the history of California.3 Paradoxical it was too that the distant Philippines were already colonized while the much nearer California, in spite of its celebrated pearls, should continue to be an unconquerable land. Its very geographical reality did not cease to be a mystery since at times it was held to be an immense island at whose northern extreme could be found the passage to the famous Strait of Anián. At other times it was believed to be a peninsula connected to the mainland at about the latitude of the mouth of the great Colorado River.
Both the history of the rumors that circulated at that time about California and the possible explanations of the chain of failures of so many men bent on its colonization are themes worth study. Its colonization was reserved for others. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, thanks to special agreements with the Crown, a new project was going to be initiated.
The Jesuit presence
Who could have imagined that this land, apparently unconquerable, would open up at last to those who entered it devoid of arms. In manifest contrast to the entrance of the legions of the conquistadores in the major part of New Spain and in the New World in general, the colonization of the peninsula of California offers a striking and different example. There definitive settlement was due basically to the missionary work of the Jesuits.
In archives in Mexico, Spain, and the United States, above all in the Archivo General de la Nación and in the Archivo de Indias in Seville, a multitude of documents are preserved?letters, diaries, reports, royal orders?by means of which it is possible to study and evaluate this undertaking. Furthermore, numerous works have been published on this subject, and in particular one should recall the three oldest general studies written during the eighteenth century itself. In the works of the Jesuits Miguel Venegas, Jacobo Baegert and Francisco Javier Clavijero, we have an introduction to the brilliant history of the missionary enterprise in Baja California which we are tempted to describe as an unusual epic achievement of the modern age.
The definitive penetration of the hostile and apparently uninhabitable peninsula was due to the efforts of two unusual men, Eusebio Francisco Kino and Juan María Salvatierra. The former had accompanied Admiral Atondo in the last of the unsuccessful attempts to establish a settlement there between 1683 and 1685. After living for sometime with the Indians in a village called San Bruno, not far to the north of the future town of Loreto, Padre Kino conceived more realistic possibilities for deeper penetration using different methods and better resources. Salvatierra was to obtain the royal authorization, as well as the first resources from which the famous “Pious Fund of the Californias” would be set up.
A short time later, toward the end of 1697, the undertaking was having a difficult but successful beginning. The first of the Jesuit missions of California was founded at the port of Loreto, in what is today the Southern Territory.
Definite aims always governed the missionaries’ work. They sought the integral transformation of the Indians, who until then had only known precarious forms of culture. The viceregal authorities obliged the missionaries to be accompanied by representatives of the armed power of the crown. As a consequence, from the beginning they were accompanied by a paradoxical force of six soldiers, a number that, notwithstanding later pressures, never exceeded sixty. To be sure, in the sustained effort to found towns, find places suitable for agriculture, just as in the labors of Christianization, more than a few problems arose, including even open rebellion by some Indian groups. There were also abuses perpetrated by some soldiers and by the searchers for the coveted pearls. But in spite of these and other setbacks, an accomplishment was achieved in the founding of eighteen missions, later reduced to fourteen, along with several other smaller settlements.
Great were the difficulties that had to be overcome. Of all the problems the most serious was the lack of water. And when at last it was located, frequently the nearby lands were found to be useless for agriculture. In addition, there were long periods of drought, plagues such as locust or the most terrible epidemics that decimated the native population. Besides this, there always existed as the supreme difficulty the natural resistance of the Indian, who looked with displeasure on the radical changes to which he was being subjected. Being concentrated in towns meant for him the loss of his ancient liberty. The doctrine that was preached to him must have been almost always incomprehensible. The new moral precepts and the obligation to lead a methodical life, regulated oftentimes by the ringing of a bell, inevitably upset what had been his former existence. Finally, illnesses that had been unknown to him formerly became the cause of mortal epidemics. Truly, the gradual disappearance of the Indian in the peninsula of California was tragic. For all these reasons, what has been described from another point of view as a spiritual conquest without arms, must also be evaluated in the light of its ultimate, painful results. This is one more instance of the old debate over the lamentable consequences that may follow attempts to transform the existence of groups considered to be primitive.
The peninsula in danger of being lost by Mexico
The expulsion in 1767 of the Jesuits, who had created the first centers of stable population in the peninsula, marked a new decline which was to become even more accentuated. Other missionaries arrived to take charge of the Jesuits’ work. The Franciscans, who were the first, left the peninsula very soon in order to work in Alta California. To replace them came the Dominicans; while they founded new settlements, they did not succeed in continuing the work of colonization with the same spirit.
The fact is that at the time of the independence of Mexico, Baja California was in complete decadence and abandonment. According to Humboldt’s demographic calculations, toward the beginning of the nineteenth century there were scarcely 8000 inhabitants. The indigenous population, more than merely decimated by the frequent epidemics, was by then very near extinction. Politically, and now we are in the epoch of independent Mexico, the peninsula formed part of the Territory of the Californias, with a governor who resided in Alta California and a sort of delegate in Loreto.
A few decades later the very grave moment would arrive when, for the first time, the forgotten peninsula was on the verge of being lost. The United States invasion in 1847 brought about the occupation of the principal ports of Baja California. Notwithstanding the resistance put up by the few inhabitants, places like Ensenada, La Paz, San José del Cabo and others fell into enemy hands. When the war ended, it was assumed that the territory, like Alta California, New Mexico and Texas, would definitely be incorporated into the union of the United States. But the tenacity of the Mexican plenipotentiaries achieved this victory at least: Baja California would continue to be an integral part of Mexico.
A new moment of danger arrived with the incursion in 1853 of the filibuster, William Walker. The adventurer, who later was to be the scourge of Central America, tried at that time to create the “Republic of Baja California and Sonora.” Once more the determination of the inhabitants of Baja California and a series of setbacks frustrated the invaders’ plans, and the peninsula was saved again. Other incursions could be recalled, as well as the propositions on the part of the United States, anxious to acquire from Mexico this isolated and almost uninhabited territory. We must also mention that during the long government of Porfirio Díaz enormous portions of Baja California were ceded to various companies, almost all foreign, apparently interested in colonization. One last point, still the subject of controversy and about which much was said at the time of the Revolution, has to do with the proclamation around 1911 of a supposed socialist republic in Baja California.
An undeniable fact is that during the nineteenth century, on more than one occasion the peninsula was on the verge of being lost. But it is also true that in large part owing to the resolute attitude of its few inhabitants, that territory was finally saved for Mexico.
The present and future of Baja California
In this rapid and almost impressionistic view of the peninsula’s past, we have attempted to point out some of the moments of greatest significance and interest. This is a land of paradoxes which, though long inaccessible, has been repeatedly coveted. Fabulous land of pearls, California began by being rescued, as far as its name is concerned, from the imaginary geography of the tales of chivalry. As is known, in the famous work of Garci-Ordóñez de Montalvo, Las sergas de Esplandián, an island was described, “situated on the right hand of the Indies … called California.” But if the rescue of the name, in order to apply it to the land where Hernán Cortés appeared in the sixteenth century, was an early postulate of its permanent attraction, very difficult on the other was the physical and cultural integration of that vast province into the reality of what Mexico came to be.
As we pointed out at the beginning, the start of the transformation of the peninsula dates only from the last decades. We have spoken of its demographic development and its diverse forms of communications which permanently link it to the continental land mass. But however impressive all of this may be, Mexican California is still far from what it must come to be, for the good of its own inhabitants and of the entire country. Above all, investigations must be carried out in order to evaluate properly the natural resources of the region. Judging by what is known to date, we can assume that there is much there to be utilized. Francisco Javier Clavijero, writing his Historia de la antigua California already dwelt on the potentialities of the peninsula with a sense of modernity.4 In this regard, much has been achieved since then, even if it has been due to the works of foreign scholars. The following brief enumeration, not even remotely exhaustive, is only a corollary, a final paradox of what can be expected of the peninsula so long considered hostile to any form of development and cultural creation.
Until recently, to speak of technological agriculture in Baja California was to refer only to the Mexicali Valley, irrigated with water from the Colorado River. That zone’s production, especially of cotton, has meant an important source of work and income. Nevertheless, even there problems have arisen?caused by the fact that during recent years and notwithstanding the treaty with the United States?the Colorado River water which is used has been received in contaminated condition. The question which demands attention is how to resolve without delay this matter in accord with international law and modern technology. As for the Southern Territory, we may mention the agricultural zone of the Valle de Santo Domingo, where 40,000 hectares are irrigated with water extracted from the subsoil. Near that valley, the conditioning work on the port of San Carlos has also had great importance since through it the products of the region are shipped. In other parts of the Territory, as for instance in the Vizcaíno zone, larger areas may eventually be brought under cultivation, provided investigations show that there is the possibility of irrigation, either by means of wells or desalinized sea water which may be obtained in the future at a reasonable cost.
As far as mineral and subsurface resources are concerned, relatively little has been done to exploit them. We might recall that already in the days of the Jesuit missions, a former soldier at the presidio of Loreto, Manuel Ocio, obtained the concession required to work some deposits of precious metals in the southern part of the peninsula. Thus there came into being the reales de minas of Santa Ana and San Antonio, from which much was hoped but relatively little was obtained. In a spot near the San Antonio mine, the Triunfo mine was later opened. It enjoyed some periods of bonanza during the last century. In the north, during the gold rush to Alta California, mining was undertaken in places like Real del Castillo and El Alamo, though only for a few years. Finally, special mention should be made of the more lasting and better organized activity in the El Boleo copper mines in Santa Rosalía.
Nevertheless, one must recognize that neither these nor other mining enterprises which might be cited constitute an even remotely approximate index of what the real possibilities of mining in Baja California may be. At this point we should also insist on the necessity of new forms of systematic investigation utilizing all means which modern technology offers. Finally, let us say with regard to the possible existence of hydrocarbons in the subsoil of the peninsula, that the studies which have been made to date keep the door open to eventual discoveries of oil fields there.
Another item of utmost importance, underscored since the days of the missions, is the peninsula’s salt works. When the Jesuit Clavijero referred to their existence on the Isla del Carmen, he observed that they were so rich they could fill Europe’s requirements for salt. At present, the workings at Guerrero Negro on the Pacific coast have achieved considerable economic importance. It should be pointed out, however, that these extremely rich salt marshes, which renew themselves constantly, are worked by a foreign company.
And now to deal with the resources of the sea, which are universally recognized to be one of the greatest potential sources of wealth for Baja California. In ancient times, attention was concentrated on the pearl beds, which today are extinct. Nowadays, with a broader perspective, we can see that the long coasts constitute veritable paradises for fishing in all possible forms. And once again let us say that men like Clavijero, had already spoken of this. When he wrote his Historia, he insisted repeatedly on the necessity of developing this industry. The day when, on the basis of real planning, fishing enterprises are established in the proper places along the 3000 kilometers of Baja California coastline, what Clavijero called “maritime mines” will be one of the firmest bases for the economic development of the peninsula.
We must refer to one last point, the future of tourism in the State and the Territory of Baja California. Among the principal attractions are the already frequently mentioned coastlines, and the great open spaces until now almost untouched by man, which offer a multitude of surprises in their flora and fauna. Sport fishing, hunting, visits to the ancient centers of population, the missions and eventually to the places where the ancient rock paintings are preserved are other attractions. At present, in spite of the fact that the Transpeninsular Highway has not yet been completed, many visitors, most of them from Alta California, are already making their way in their own vehicles even to isolated spots. The same can be said of the large number of tourists, also from the United States, who arrive in their airplanes or their yachts at the luxury hotels which exist in places of great natural beauty such as those in the region of Cabo San Lucas, in La Paz, Loreto, Mulegé and in other spots like Ensenada in what is today the State of Baja California. It has been said, for example, that it is the “last frontier,” a territory in which there are regions scarcely explored, where it is possible to contemplate nature in her original form. If we only recall the fact that the present population of neighboring Alta California already surpasses twenty million, of whom a considerable number enjoy a high income, we will be able to foresee what awaits Baja California in tourism. Precisely for this reason it is urgent that the people of the peninsula be prepared to face what may be for them either a blessing or a misfortune. Needless to say, it is also necessary to promote domestic tourism much more vigorously. Above all, airlines and modern ferries offer the means to assure that the greatest possible number of Mexicans also enjoy all that Baja California offers and in turn, contribute to its economic and cultural development.
Such are, very briefly enumerated, the reality and the promises of the Mexican California. Its history, so full of surprises and even paradoxes, constitutes the deepest roots of its enterprising inhabitants. And in that same history, which speaks of people who were able to adapt to a hostile environment, people who created a culture and foresaw the future of their land, it is possible to discover the germ of all that public and private action has begun to accomplish there. The peninsula of California, whose name was derived from the tales of chivalry, once again today is a land of attraction, a vast expanse of earth open to the seas and to better ways of life for many hundreds of thousands of Mexicans.
1. The title of this bibliography is: Ellen C. Barrett, Baja California, 1535-1964. A Bibliography of Historical, Geographical and Scientific Literature Relating to the Peninsula of Baja California and to the Adjacent Islands in the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean, Vol. 1, Los Angeles, Bennett and Marshall, 1957; Vol. II, Los Angeles, Westernlore Press, 1967. It should be noted that several years earlier, a much shorter work on the same subject was published in México: Joaquin Díaz Mercado, Bibliografía sumaria de la Baja California, México, Bibliografías Mexicanas, DAAP, 1937.
2. Concerning the rock paintings in Baja California, see: Barbro Dahlgren and Javier Romero, “La prehistoria baja-californiana, redescubrimiento de pinturas rupestres,” Cuadernos Americanos, X, No. 4, Mexico, July and August 1951, 153-178. Clement W. Meighan, Indian Art and History, the Testimony of Prehispanic Rock Painting in Baja California, Los Angeles, Dawson’s Book Shop, 1969.
3. See the documentation on several of these expeditions in: W. Michael Mathes, California, documentos para la historia de la demarcación comercial de California, 1583-1632, 2 v., Madrid, Colección Chimalistac, 1965. With regard to the explorations carried out by Francisco de Ortega between 1632 and 1636, see: Miguel Leon-Portilla, “El ingenioso Capitán Francisco de Ortega, sus viajes y noticias californianas,” Estudios de Historia Novohispana, México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 1969, v. III, 83-128.
4. See principally Book I of Francisco Xavier Clavijero, Historia de la antigua o Baja California, Preliminary Study by Miguel León Portilla México, Editorial Porrúa 1970, 13-44.
It is a pleasure for us to welcome Dr. Miguel Leon-Portilla to our pages again. His article “Historical Archives of Baja California Sur,” appeared in the Winter 1972 issue of the Journal. Dr. León-Portilla is the author of some thirty books, including the well-known The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston, 1962) and Aztec Thought and Culture: A Study of the Ancient Nahuatl Mind (Norman, 1963). He is presently Director of the Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.
The translator’s love affair with Mexico began with his first trip there in 1942. Since then, Dr. Raymond D. Weeter has studied often and traveled widely in Mexico. In the summers of 1967 and 1968 he taught in the Cursos Temporales of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Dr. Weeter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at California State University, San Diego.