Book V, Chapter V
On the events of the rebellion of the Cacique Enrique, who thereafter was called Don Enrique, because so was he named by His Majesty in a letter sent to him, and he was restored to the service of Their Majesties, and so peace was established with him and his Indians.
Translated by Karly Andreassen ’20
Since the previous chapters told of how His Majesty sent Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo to this island to restore Enrique to royal service or else wage a fire and blood war against him, without the tepidness or quarter that had prevailed before, I say that this Royal Audience, having received the Emperor’s command, wanted to take hear the opinions of the principal persons of this city, and they came together to discuss in what manner the pacification or war against this Cacique Enrique would unfold. And after having been consulted, they agreed that the same Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo would be the first to attempt to reach a peaceful accord, and if it could not be attained, they would resort to arms, as this enterprise should first be trusted to God in obeisance to His Imperial Majesty’s conscience and that of his vassals, as they would bear the responsibility for whatever happened, so that the deaths and damages resulting from such a war could not be imputed nor attributed to the Christians. And to this purpose he departed from this city of Santo Domingo to search for Enrique on the eighth of May in the year of 1533 on a caravel, leaving from this city’s port with thirty-two Christian men and many other Indians to help them carry their packs; and he sailed west along the southern coast of this island, from port to port. And because the caravel could not go close to land, they brought along a skiff with people, and arrived at the village of Yaquimo, below the mountains of Baoruco, and they found no trace whatsoever, no smoke, nor any of where this cacique and his people could be found. And inquiring along the coast, going inland and returning to the sea many times, he spent two months; and at the end of this time he went inland one day, climbed along the banks of a river, and discovered an Indian encampment emptied of people; but it was surrounded by conucos planted with food (this is what the Indian’s crop farms are called), and he did not allow for anything to be taken so as not to upset them, understanding well that the Indians of that encampment must be away fishing or hunting, or tracking game, or doing wherever suited them. And seeing this, he returned to the sea and agreed to send for certain guides to the village of the Yaguana; and these having been brought, he sent one of their Indians with a letter to Enrique himself (because that guide said that he knew where he was), and this Indian never again turned up nor was it ever known what became of him. And as the captain saw that this guide or interpreter did not turn up after twenty days of having sent him, he decided to be his own messenger and go in person with another guide remaining; and with thirty Christian men he went to look for this cacique where that Indian had said that Enrique had his farmlands and could be found. And having walked three and a half days, they found a planted field; and going forth in search of water to drink, they found four Indians, all of whom they took; and from them was learned that Enrique was on the lake they named after Commander Aybaguanex (an Indian by that name from times past, when this island was governed by the High Knight Commander Don Frey Nicolás de Ovando); that lake was eight leagues away, across difficult terrain, hilly and mountainous, with thorny thickets, groves, and plants as dense as they tend to be here; and there he determined to go.
Before arriving at the aforementioned lake, the captain and those with him reached a good village of many bohios or houses,where in times past fifteen-hundred Indians could have lived well, to which they believed that Enrique would return from the lake, where in fact he was, preparing the cohoba or ritual snuff the Indians used, and which they call also call tobacco, as was mentioned before in Chapter II. And the captain camped overnight with those he brought with him, half a league from said village; and at a quarter to dawn, the next day, he went on, and having arrived at the village, found no people whatsoever. But they found the kinds of household items the Indians usually have, which clearly showed that it was populated and its people were away. And the captain ordered that nothing whatsoever be touched, except some calabashes that were taken to bear water, given that it is lacking in that land.From there to the lagoon there was a path cut through by axe and hand, of such width that two carts could travel in opposite directions; and from there, as it was shown, the Indians carried thirteen canoes to the lagoon: seven large ones and six small ones. And following this path the captain and the Christians with him heard the blows of an axe in the bush (they were on a tall mountain on easily walkable ground), and having heard those blows he had his people hold still, and from there he sent the docile Indians he had with him to surround whoever was using his axe or cutting wood in the thickest and densest part of the forest, and seize him; and this was done, capturing an Indian who was chopping firewood. It must be noted that as they made their way through the mountain path to that point they had found no evidence anywhere of a cut stick or branch; because Enrique, as a perceptive man of war, had so commanded his Indians, under penalty of death, and executed those who disobeyed. After this Indian was taken, Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo withdrew into the interior of the mountain, away from the path, placing his guard where he thought most convenient so that anyone traveling the path would not sense any trace or sign that there were Christians roaming around. And he informed himself through that Indian as to where and in what part Don Enrique was; and he told them where they would find him, but that they should go almost half a league into the lagoon, which was in some parts knee-deep, and in others up to the armpits and then some more or less; and that on the other side there were boulders and very thick and dense mangroves (which are trees of a certain kind that grow very close together in the water on sea coasts), and that the path was very bad. And thus very well informed about the nature and route they had to follow, found that they were a league and a half from Enrique; and the captain and his people left, traveling off the path; and arriving at the lagoon, they were seen by some Indians on land, who, in an instant began calling out and shouting warnings, and up to twelve Indians gathered in the canoes I had mentioned, which they had there; and they began to strike their canoes with the nahes or oars so they Christians would think they were already in them, calling out: To the sea, captain; to the sea, captain. And he did not want to respond, although the Christians were encouraging him to do so, but he retorted and said: “those Indians have a captain and we do not know if they call to him or to me.” And they turned to give voice and said: Lord Captain of His Majesty, to the sea, to the sea. And so the captain emerged from the savanna or bush, moving some of his companions or soldiers aside along the path so they could approach in an organized way and ascertain whether there were more of Enrique’s people lying in ambush. This name of savanna refers to land without groves, but with much tall grass, or sometimes low. And so, in the aforementioned manner, the captain and those who went with him reached the lake shore (which has a circumference of twelve leagues); and there he spoke with the Indians on the canoes and asked them where Enrique was, because he was seeking to speak to him in the name of His Majesty and hand him one of his royal letters. And he asked them whether the Indian or guide he had first sent alone had reached them, as has been told; and they said that such an Indian had not been there, but that they had known that a captain sent by His Majesty had arrived. And then Captain Francisco de Barrionuevo entreated them to take an Indian woman who came with him, who had been for some time before with Enrique himself, and knew him very well, so that through her he be informed of his arrival; and they greeted her most ungraciously, saying that it would anger their lord Enrique. And the woman entered the lake, paddling in the water up to her waist; and they took her into one of those canoes and said that they would take her to their lord Enrique, and that is what they did.
And having done this, the captain and the Christians withdrew to about the distance of a crossbow shot and entered the savanna or open field (for their safety), where they slept that night. On the following day, two hours after sunrise, two canoes returned with a principal Indian, a captain of the aforementioned Enrique (with twelve Indians) named Martín de Alfaro, a very close relative of Enrique, and one of his closest allies. And he brought the Indian woman already mentioned; and they all landed with their lances and swords, and Francisco de Barrionuevo stepped away from the Christians and embraced this Indian captain and the Indians with him, all of whom later returned to their canoes, except their leader who stayed on land, speaking with Barrionuevo. And he was quite good with languages and spoke enough Castilian, in which language he said to our captain that the lord Enrique, being ill disposed, was requesting as a favor that the captain join him; and the captain thought that the message was sent in order to determine if he had come in good faith or with treacherous intentions; because the path and predicament were such that if he showed any fear or reluctance Enrique and his people would suspect that they meant to cheat or trick them. And in order to remove such suspicion, Captain Barrionuevo determined to go, although against the will of most of those who went with him, who were suspicious, given the nature of the path they had to travel, that the Indians could kill or impose on them with impunity. But Captain Barrionuevo, undeterred, took with him up to fifteen men (chosen from among the Christians), and he left the rest there with the docile Indians who had come with them; and he followed the path where Martín de Alfaro led him, through such terrain and route that it was reasonable to fear the end of their expedition. And some of the Christians went along mumbling and muttering, because it was very rugged land, very dense and thick with trees and mangroves and thickets; and undoubtedly most of the companions believed that they had erred in trusting the Indian, and if left to them, they would have turned back. But their captain recognized the weakness of some of their company, and told them what follows, to encourage them so they would not yield.
Image retrieved from John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.