Atlas of Historic NM Maps
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UNM Press
NM Centennial

An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, 15501941

Unit One: Maps in the Age of Exploration

The first maps to show New Mexico were created with what little data could be gleaned from reports of explorations in the region. The information the Spanish learned was carefully protected, and maps created in France, Germany, and Italy showed decades-old information that was often based on conjecture.


In completing this lesson, students will:

Navigate a historic map, using the basic tools of Google maps.

Collaboratively compare a set of historic maps from the Age of Exploration.

Analyze the basic components of a map, and what kind of information can be learned from looking at one.

Identify, discuss, and write about different points of view about the Spanish entrada and first contact with the Pueblos.




























Activity I: Terra Incognita

Navigate to the Terra Incognita section of the online Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps (link below).

Have students read through the context and then select a map from first four maps listed on the page.

If the classroom has multiple computers, let students spend a few minutes familiarizing themselves with the map interface, or use the Help section to walk your students through using basic Google map controls (pan, zoom in/out, pan to an area, pan quickly, reset).

Have them try the following:

zoom in to see place names

click and drag on the map

use pan quickly box, then collapse/uncollapse

click on an icon to open the info window

click on each tab to see the different information available for a site.

turn all icons off in the Google map legend

After the students are acquainted with the basic functions of the map, have them fill out the Map Analysis Worksheet for the map they selected (link below).

Students should be sure to read the text in "About This Map" as well as following the narratives in the map, starting with the "people" icon. Be sure they know to check the "missing" icon in the legend, to see what is missing from the map. This may take a while, to read through the narratives.

When students have completed their worksheet (or the next class period), have them get into groups according to which map they chose. They should briefly discuss in groups the results of their findings, then choose a spokesperson to share the highlights with the class. It may be useful as an exercise for each group to fill out a group worksheet, including only the points the group finds most important.

When each group has had a chance to present, discuss as a class:

What were the regional boundaries of New Mexico, compared to modern boundaries?

Why were some of the boundaries so vague?

What kinds of difficulties might the Spanish explorers have had in measuring distances or finding out about distant places from the native inhabitants? How did that affect the information available about the region?

Which maps showed current information (for the time)? Which show outdated information? Why do you think that is?

NOTE: All the sources quoted as "eyewitness" in the atlas are as close to contemporary descriptions from the era of the map as we have. For the most part, they only represent European points of view, because the native inhabitants of New Mexico mostly used oral, symbolic, or pictorial forms of communication. Sometimes we can only guess at what the story would be from the native point of view.

You may wish to spend some time with your students discussing why the timeline begins where it does, as most New Mexico histories start millenia before 1562. Native Americans kept other records of their relationship to the land, most notably in their place names and stories. The records of these are part of an oral history. Excerpts from Native American oral histories are on the tabs marked "Other Voices."

Map Analysis Worksheet

Era Page: Terra Incognita

Diego Gutierrez: Americae sive quartae orbis partis nova et exactissima descriptio (1592Gutierrez) : 1562

Vincenzo Maria Coronelli: America Settentrionale : 1688

Enrique Martinez: Map of New Mexico Colony

Activity II: Intercultural Relations

Have students go back to the map they chose and consider only the passages that relate to communication or actions between the Spanish and some native group. Ask them to reflect on their reading by answering the following:

What sorts of events do they describe?

What stood out?

Was there anything surprising or puzzling?

How did the Spanish see their venture?

How did the pueblos react?

Click on the speaker icons to listen to the following clips at the bottom of the Terra Incognita page:

Different attitudes back then

Indian beliefs

First Spanish Capital

Ask the students how they think these audio clips shed light on Spanish and Pueblo relations.

Ask students to keep the audio in mind while reading the following (links below)

The two descriptions of Alvarado's massacre in Tenochtitlan

On the Gutierrez map: Coronado/ Tiguex (marked as Tiguas on the map, to the north, near the Pacific Coast)

On the Coronelli map: Hernan Gallegos/ Malagí³n

On the Martinez map: Don Juan de Oñate/ Acoma, Nueva Sevilla, Taos, Pueblos del Valle de Puara

Ask the students:

How do the actions of the Spanish in New Mexico compare with the actions of the Spanish in Mexico?

How do the actions of the different groups of Spanish compare to each other?

Why do you think there are differences?

Point out that in the two narratives from Mexico, we have the native and the Spanish point of view. In New Mexico, we don't have similar texts to compare.

Ask students to read, silently or in aloud in turns, the article below about views of Oñate. In this article, several contemporary thinkers discuss the events at Acoma and how it reflects on Don Juan de Oñate's legacy. When finished, ask students if they agree with any of the people interviewed. Why or why not?

Students should read the fictional account of the battle at Acoma in Southwest Crossroads (link below). This story explores both the native and the Spanish point of view.

Ask students to pick one of the encounters they read about (Coronado, Gallegos, or Oñate), and try to imagine it from the Pueblo point of view. Each student should write at least one page, retelling events from the Pueblo perspective.

Alvarado's Massacre in Tenochtitlan

Coronado: Tiguex

Gallegos: Malagón

Oñate: Pueblos del Valle de Puará

Views of Oñate

Southwest Crossroads: Battle of Acoma


Students will be expected to make connections between the primary source material on your page and other topics/themes in state and U.S. history through further reading and research. In your lesson plan, you will need to provide teachers with useful and relevant online and print resources that they may suggest to their classes.

Textbook references:

A Journey Through New Mexico History, Unit 2

A History of New Mexico, Unit 2, chapters 4 and 5

note: teachers using this textbook can do the geography exercises at the end of each chapter by using a historic map from that era and comparing it to a modern map. To see a modern map using the same interface, click on the button marked Today (not on all maps). Likewise, students can adjust the transparency on maps to compare locations on the historic and modern maps.


Key Ideas and Details:


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

Craft and Structure:


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).


Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.


Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

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