15 March 2018

Etzanoa – The City Before Arkansas City

Etzanoa - The Great Settlement sat in 1601 where the city of Arkansas City now sits!
Etzanoa - The Great Settlement

Long before there was a city named Arkansas City, before Kansas was a state, even before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the Rayados people had a large and thriving settlement at the confluence of the Walnut and Arkansas Rivers where Arkansas City sits now.

On Monday, March 26th, Sandy Randel, Director of the Cherokee Strip Land Museum and Coordinator for the Etzanoa Conservancy, will speak to the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society and share the story of “Etzanoa – the city before Arkansas City” with a video and PowerPoint presentation and answer questions. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellington Public Library, lower level, 121 W. 7th, Wellington. P program is free; visitors welcome.  For questions or weather cancellation, contact Jane at 620-447-3266 or Sherry at 316-833-6161.

They were hunting for gold…

It was 1601, 417 years ago, when Juan de Oñate, colonial governor of the Santa Fe de Nuevo México province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain set out with approximately 130 Spanish soldiers, a dozen Franciscan priests, servants, scouts, cannons, and weapons to search for gold.
They didn’t find it. 
But according to diaries, eyewitness accounts, and maps from the Conquistadores, they did find herds of “monstrous cattle” that they pronounced “good to eat”, grass so high in places that it “hid a horse,” and when they reached what is now Oklahoma, they found the Escanxaque native people who were nomadic hunters, and enemies of the native people of Etzanoa.

The Escanxaque told the Conquistadores about the “great settlement” called Etzanoa, and then followed Oñate and his troops north to the Great Settlement at the confluence of what is now the Walnut and Arkansas rivers.

There, Oñate and his soldiers found at least 2,000 post and pole, grass-thatched houses seventy to eighty feet in circumference. Houses separated by crops of beans, squash, and maize, houses big enough for eight to ten occupants.
Because of the paint and tattoos on their faces, the Conquistadores called the natives at Etzanoa the “Rayados”, which means “striped” in Spanish.
When Oñate decided to return to Nuevo México, the Escanxaque attacked the troops. Even though they were outnumbered, the Spanish cannons and muskets forced the Escanxaque to take shelter in a rocky gully, leaving behind evidence of the battle. Several of the Escanxaque were killed or wounded. Some of Oñate’s troops were injured, but none were killed. 
The next day, Oñate and his troops began their journey back to New Mexico; they arrived on Nov 24, 1601.

After a new translation of the Spanish records of Oñate’s journey was done in 2013 it helped Dr. Donald Blakeslee, Professor of Anthropology and Archeology at Wichita State University to locate and verify the location of the Great Settlement.

And that battle between the Conquistadores and the Escanxaque left behind cannon and musket balls that helped Dr. Blakeslee verify that this is the site of the Etzanoa village.

How Old Was the Settlement?

They don’t know how long Etzanoa existed prior to 1601, and they aren’t sure how long it was there after 1601, but Randel knows that a town of that size didn’t spring up overnight.
 “We know it was there in 1601,” Randel said., “there would have needed to be quite a bit of things in place to support that many people.”
Currently, the estimated size of Etzanoa at a population of 20,000 puts it second in size only to the 13th Century settlement of Cahokia near St. Louis, but the exact boundaries of the settlement at Etzanoa is still unknown and some suspect that further discoveries may show that Etzanoa is larger than Cahokia.
“The settlement does go north of Arkansas City,” Randel said, “We don’t know how far north it goes.”

How to Get Involved in the Project…

Randel stated that the Etzanoa Conservancy welcomes volunteers and involvement with the project and she will bring information on volunteering and getting involved.  For more information, check out www.ks-schgs.blogspot.com.
 Articles about Etzanoa:

Lost city found: Etzanoa of the great Wichita Nation

Lost City of Etzanoa Found

Etzanoa: The Great Settlement

WSU professor, students continue research on archaeological discovery

 WikiPedia - Rayado Indians

Etzanoa Facebook Page

Searching for Etzanoa

Has a High School Student Found the Mythical City of Etzanoa

The Lost Ancient City of Etzanoa Has Been Hidden in Kansas All This Time

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