IT IS SOMETIMES forgotten that the colonization of the vast territories north of the Mexico Valley would never have been possible without the indispensable support of native auxiliaries. The urgent need to protect the roads to the silver mines drove the Spanish to seek Indian collaboration. And so it was that Mexicas, Tlaxcaltecas, Tarascos and Otomis, sometimes single-handed and sometimes combining forces with the colonizers, increased their attacks on the Chichimec Indians, acting not only as soldiers but also as spies, go-betweens, and scouts, before finally settling in sedentary villages. Thanks to their collaboration, the Spanish succeeded in greatly reducing the threat posed by the 'nomadic group's resistence, during the Chichimec War which lasted from 1550 to 16001•
Episodes of less consequence in the areas of San Juan del Rfo and Queretaro preceded the Chichimeca War.lt is worth recalling that shortly after the fall ofMexico-Tenochtithin, groups ofOtomi Indians retreated to the semidesert regions to the north ofTula andJilotepec, in the face ofthe conquistadors' advance. Around the year 1531 a few of them, led by a merchant by the name of Conn!, a native of Nopala in Jilotepec province, took up residence in the neighbourhood of Queretaro. Conn! established good relations with the
Chichimecs in the surrounding district. Some time passed, and then a Spanish encomendero1, Perez de Bocanegra, made contact with Connf who agreed to be baptized and to accept the King's sovereignty. From then on Connf's name was Hernando de Tapia. The new convert managed to entreat the Chichimeca Indians, and they were baptized in their tum by a priest brought in from Acambaro. Hernando de Tapia was to play a distinguished role, as is known: he became governor of the town of Queretaro, he helped bring about the surrender and conversion of numerous Chichimec groups, he founded various towns such as San Miguel el Grande ... And, still according to Ramos de Cardenas' Descripcior?-, another Otomi indian from Jilotepec founded the town of San Juan del Rfo after first having attempted to retreat from Spanish domination. Like Conni, he finally submitted and converted to Christianity.