When Friar Diego Bringas penned his 1796–97 report on conditions in northwestern New Spain, he was imbued with an enthusiastic drive for reform. Hoping to gain the King of Spain’s support in improving the missionary program, Bringas set down a detailed history of all that had happened in the region since Father Kino’s day. His writings offer a valuable study of Spanish attempts to bring about cultural change among the Piman Indians.
Daniel S. Matson and Bernard L. Fontana have translated the Bringas document and added an informative introduction, notes, and references. They analyze Spanish methods of indoctrination and examine the implications in terms of the modern world.
Friar Bringas carefully explained various missionary and secular policies, laws, and regulations. He pointed out why, in his opinion, Spanish efforts to convert the Piman Indians had failed. He also provided a report of the orders establishing the ill-fated Yuma missions. His fascinating account of the Gila River Pimas is one of the most complete ethnographic descriptions from that era.
Friar Bringas Reports to the King is an important study of Spain’s attempts to assimilate the Indians. It offers a deeper understanding of the history of the Pimería Alta.