orn in 1510 in Salamanca, Spain, Coronado was an explorer driven by possible wealth and who pioneered expeditions
to unknown areas in South-western America. He was also known as the conqueror of the "seven cities of
In 1535 Coronado arrived in New Spain, now new Mexico, and in 1539 he became the governor of Nueva Galicia
province (today the states of Aguascalientes, Zacatecas and Jalisco) where he heard the legends of Cabeza de
Vaca, a Spanish explorer, and of the Seven Cities of Cibola. The Seven Cities were apparently the encampments of
incredibly wealthy native Americans.
As Coronado had heard of the acquisition of the Aztec and Inca empires, he was eager to search for more rich
civilizations within the New World. He was commissioned to survey and annex the region of Cibola for Spain with an
Cibola and Quivira
Hernando de Alarcon led a fleet along Mexico's West Coast in search of an inland waterway to Cibola. At
about the same time, on February 23 in 1540, Coronado set off for the present border at Arizona from Composted
(today's Nayarit State). He was in command at about 300 Spanish soldiers as well as native Americans, and traveled
northwards following Sierra Madre Occidental's western slope. After reaching present-day Arizona, he traveled in a
northeasterly direction to Cibola. Unfortunately, Cibola was a cluster of common Zuni villages. Here Coronado
consigned Garcia Lopez de Cardenas with a small group of soldiers in a westerly direction, were they explored the
Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. They were the first Europeans to do so. The party later wintered close to what
is today known as Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Coronado's party then traveled eastwards in late 1541. They crossed the upper Rio Grande river and the Great
Plains of today's Texas, and were the first Europeans to sight American bison.
Then heading northwards, Coronado was in search of the apparently rich kingdom of Quivira. Crossing the
Canadian ricer and Arkansas River to get there, he was disappointed to discover it was only a village, housing
Wichita people (in what is today Kansas).
In 1542 the despondent party arrived back in New Spain. Although fairly composed government met them,
Coronado's governor-ship of Nueva Galicia was taken from him in 1544. He lived a quiet life in Mexico City and died
there on September the 22nd, 1554. Coronado left a great legacy to Europe, as he was its first representative to visit
unknown parts of America. He left vivid descriptions of these areas, which were published in 1896 as part of the 14th
report for the US Bureau of Ethnology. The Coronado National Memorial in Bisbee, Arizona, was opened in 1952 and
commemorated his travels.