Faculty Advisor

John Rector


“El Camino Real: Commercial Trade Route to Santa Fe”

The Royal Road of the Interior Land served as the sole trade and supply route to the frontier regions of New Spain for the better part of three centuries. The eighteenth century mission colony of Santa Fe was the northern terminus of El Camino Real. Caravan trade parties that traveled the near 1,600-mile route were the only means for buying and selling goods in Santa Fe. Native laborers were the backbone of the self-sustaining colony and manufactured numerous trade exports. The combination of Native American contributions and merchant trade on El Camino Real were the reasons for Santa Fe’s ultimate survival as a permanent settlement. I will be examining letters by two eighteenth century governors of New Mexico one of which provides requests and information on supplies needed to be sent overland for mission upkeep. Additionally, colonial era textiles provide an insightful example of commodities produced by Pueblo artisans for trade and purchase of needed imports. Sources from the Spanish and the natives provide some balance in contextualizing trade systems on El Camino Real.

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