logo Click BACK to return to basecamp
Lost Teachers
Search Info
White beveled edge

Meet Rebecca

Rebecca Archive

Cool Links
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado

Were there really seven cities of gold?

The Amazing Castillo de San Marcos



A Little Country Rivalry Goes a Long Way
September 30, 2000


What's so great about land, anyway?
All right you guys. I want you to think for a minute about land. Picture "land" in your head. Boring, right? Just trees and grass, bushes and dirt, sand, valleys and mountains. But what if I asked you to tell me what you can DO with land? You might say grow crops in the soil, cut down trees for building, raise animals in the valleys, collect minerals from the ground and set up houses and shops in the open spaces. Now we're getting somewhere!

All that stuff is pretty important to our day-to-day lives. Land gives us life's essential elements -- food, shelter and water. And land is why people have moved around since the beginning of time. People want more fields to farm, more mines for minerals, more places for homes, more acres to raise animals and more space to relax and have fun.

Now think about a time before the United States of America existed, around the 16th century. The land, of course, was here, but only the Native Americans lived on it. They were spread out across the continent, and lived in many tribes, spoke many languages and created many different traditions. At same exact time, the small continent of Europe was crowded!

When America was discovered by Europeans, they decided to send people across the Atlantic Ocean, to live on these lands.

This is how Europe colonized the Americas. Spain was the first country to create permanent cities in what would become the United States. These two cities are St Augustine, in what is now Florida, and Santa Fe, in what is now New Mexico. Neda and I explored St. Augustine, while Stephanie and Daphne traveled to Santa Fe.

Becky finds no sign of the British enemy near the Castillo de San Marcos
St. Augustine's main purpose was to protect Spain's investments in the new world. A giant fort, with thick rock walls and a moat, called the Castillo de San Marcos was built overlooking the bay. It has stood guard over St.Augustine's lands under Spanish, English, Spanish (again) and American flags. The Castillo shows how important land is.

Spain established the colony in Santa Fe, by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Along the way, religious missionaries traveling with him tried to convert Native Americans to Christianity. The results are seen throughout New Mexico today.

Contemporary Santa Fe provided Daphne and Steph with the most interesting blend of cultures they had seen yet! The Spanish/Mexican and Native American cultures dominate Anglo culture here: even European Americans live in adobe houses near Spanish-style cathedrals and eat green chili for breakfast!

Neda in front of St. Augustine's ancient gate
Both St. Augustine and Santa Fe have become cities of the United States. Their lands and the resources they offer now benefit the people of the United States. Yet as our treks through these cities show, the Spanish heritage is alive and well in places like New Mexico and Florida.

Thanks to the National Park Service for providing the quoted material in parts of this dispatch.


Please email me at: rebecca@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - How do you voodoo? The truth beyond the Hollywood myth
Kevin - The Huguenot History Rap
Nick - Don a headdress made of turkey feathers and return to the 1600's