A Fateful Day in 1698

The Remarkable Sobaipuri-O’odham Victory over the Apaches and Their Allies

In 1698, the Apache and their allies attacked a sleeping Sobaipuri-O’odham village on the San Pedro River at the northern edge of New Spain, now in southern Arizona. This book, about one of the most important Southwestern battles of the era in this region, reads like a mystery. At the same time, it addresses in a scholarly fashion the methodological question of how we can confidently infer anything reliable about the past.
Translations of original Spanish accounts by Father Kino and others convey important details about the battle, while the archaeological record and ethnographic and oral traditions provide important correctives to the historic account. A new battlefield signature of native American conflict is identified, and the fiery context of the battle provides unprecedented information about what the Sobaipuri grew and hunted in this out-of-the-way location, including the earliest known wheat.
That this tumultuous time was a period of flux is reflected in the defensive, communal, and ceremonial architecture of the O'odham, which accommodated Spanish tastes and techniques. Practices specific to the O’odham as they relate to the day’s events and to village life illuminate heretofore unexplained aspects of the battle. The book also records a visit by descendant O’odham, reinforcing the importance of identifying the historically documented location.
A Fateful Day in 1698 will be of significant interest to archaeologists and historians.

Dr. Deni Seymour is a full-time research archaeologist affiliated with two academic institutions and the nonprofit research group Jornada Research Institute. She is the author of Where the Earth and Sky Are Sewn Together (The University of Utah Press, 2011) and the editor of From the Land of Ever Winter to the American Southwest: Athapaskan Migrations, Mobility, and Ethnogenesis (The University of Utah Press, 2012).

Author Website

Table of Contents:
List of Figures

1. A Remarkable Event in 1698
2. Documentary Sources
3. Reconciling Ethnohistoric Accounts
4. Who Were the Enemy?
5. Reason for the Battle
6. Distinguishing Historically Referenced Places
7. The Santa Cruzes: Pitaitutgam and Gaybanipitea
8. Adobe-Walled Structures in Comparative Regional Perspective
9. Changes in Indigenous Communal Architecture and Colonial Influence
10. Warfare and Weapons
11. Sobaipuri and Enemy Projectile Points
12. Projectile Point Poison
13. Consequences and Aftermath of the Battle
14. Reconnecting with the Past

Appendix: Transcriptions of Spanish Documents
References Cited

Praise and Reviews:
“Seymour's study examines all the primary sources and then incorporates her archaeological conclusions from the battlefield of this historic engagement to tell the definitive story of what happened.... None has the complete story as does Seymour's book.”
—Edwin Sweeney, author of Mangas Coloradas: Chief of the Chiricahua Apaches and From Cochise to Geronimo: The Chiricahua Apaches, 1874-1886.

“The volume presents a model for integrating ethnography, historic documents, and archaeological data into a method for reconstructing past behavior. It will set the standard of how future archaeologists and ethnohistorians will identify and confirm specific locations in the archaeological record.”
—David Hill, consultant, Archaeological Research & Technology, Inc. 

A Fateful Day in 1698 joins a growing corpus of scholarship illustrating the importance of war, conflict, and violence in the history of the Southwest. As sure as wind and water sculpted the terrain into mesas and canyons, conflict and violence shaped the human terrain into peoples and nations. Seymour details one case of how this occurred, showing that 30 March 1698 did truly prove to be a fateful day in the history of the Southwest.”—New Mexico Historical Review

“In this carefully researched study, archaeologist Deni J. Seymour provides the most definitive account yet written of an important and well-documented southwestern battle between the Spanish-allied Sobaipuri-O’odham (Pima) and their Jocome-led indigenous enemies on Easter in 1698.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“This is good ethnohistory, where history, anthropology, archaeology, and ethnology come together in a mix that interprets the whys and wherefores of an incident. …What has been accomplished here is top notch.”—American Indian Quarterly