History tells us that in 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and three hundred Europeans conquered thousands of pueblo farmers in the middle Rio Grande Valley. These conquistadors were metal-clad Spanish warriors on horseback. Franciscan monks came with them to bring Christianity into the region. Sometimes stories even mention Mexican Indians who came with the expedition as servants, porters, or slaves. This myth is simply untrue.
Primary source documents from that time tell a very different story. And the army that Coronado brought into the Rio Grande valley looked quite different as well – it was an army primarily made up of Mesoamerican Indians from the Valley of Mexico. Roughly 3,000 strong, these indios amigos, or “friendly Indians ” as the Spanish called them, spoke the Nahuatl, or Aztec, language. And the majority of them weren’t servants, porters, or slaves.