Spanish Exploration and Mexican Control

Probably the first Spanish explorer to enter Arizona (c.1536) was Cabeza de Vaca. Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza reached the state in 1539; he was followed by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who led an expedition from Mexico in 1540 in search of the seven legendary cities of gold, reaching as far as the Grand Canyon. Despite extensive exploration, the region was neglected by the Spanish in favor of the more fruitful area of New Mexico. Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit, founded the missions of Guevavi (1692) and Tumacacori (1696), near Nogales, and San Xavier del Bac (1700), near Tucson. The Spanish Empire, however, expelled the Jesuits in 1767, and those in Arizona subsequently lost their control over the indigenous people.

The Arizona region came under Mexican control following the Mexican war of independence from Spain (1810–21). In the early 1800s, U.S. mountain men, trappers and traders such as Kit Carson, trapped beaver in the area, but otherwise there were few settlers.

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