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Sonora

Sonora (sōnō´rä), state (1990 pop. 1,823,606), 70,484 sq mi (182,554 sq km), NW Mexico, on the Gulf of California, S of Arizona. Hermosillo is the capital. Sonora is mostly mountainous, with vast desert stretches; along the gulf are low, broad coastlands. Reclamation projects on the Yaqui, Sonora, Mayo, and other rivers have opened large areas to agriculture. The most extensively irrigated of all Mexican states, Sonora is a leading national producer of cotton and wheat; other cereals and vegetables are also grown. Agriculture is highly mechanized. Cattle raising and fishing and aquaculture are important, and large quantities of shrimp are exported to the United States. Gold, silver, copper, and other metals are mined in Sonora. Power plants at Hermosillo and Guaymas have aided Sonora's rapid industrialization. Food processing and textile and automotive manufacturing are major industries, and numerous maquiladoras, low-cost foreign-owned plants which finish products for export to the United States, exist throughout the region. Nogales is the chief point of entry from the United States. Systematic Spanish exploration of Sonora, principally by Cristóbal de Oñate, began after Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's expedition in 1540. Spanish missionaries, notably Eusebio Francisco Kino, were active in colonizing the territory during the 17th cent. Originally part of Nueva Viscaya, which also included the present-day states of Chihuahua and Durango, Sonora was later united with Sinaloa; they became separate states in 1830. Sonora played a key role in the Mexican revolution against Porfirio Díaz that began in 1910.

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Sonora

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Sonora

Sonora

Sonora, a state in northwest Mexico covering 110,000 square miles. Located between 108 degrees and 115 degrees west longitude and 26 degrees and 32 degrees north latitude, Sonora borders Arizona, the Gulf of California, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa. The Yaqui, Mayo, Sonora, and Concepción drainages constitute its principal river systems, flowing westward from the highlands to the Gulf of California. The Santa Cruz River flows northward to the Gila River; the Colorado River forms the boundary between Sonora and Baja California.

The Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sonoran Desert define its geographic features. Characteristic desert vegetation includes mesquite, paloverde, palofierro (ironwood), gobernadora (creosote), saguaro, pitahaya (a cactus), jojoba, and chollas. The mountains bear varieties of agaves, encina, and pine forests. Native fauna include bear, coyote, deer, mountain lion, wild boar, wild turkey, and the protected species of bura deer and long-horned sheep.

Firm archaeological evidence of human presence in Sonora can be dated from 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. Nomadic bands of lithic toolmakers hunted mammoths, mastodons, bison, and some animals that have survived to the present. These people left enduring remains in geoglyphs, petroglyphs, and stone artifacts, including the highly crafted Clovis point. Sedentary villagers have practiced agriculture in Sonora at least since the beginning of the common era. Lowland cultivation dependent on flows in ephemeral arroyos specialized in drought-resistant plants like cotton, quelites (wild greens), calabashes, and beans. More abundant rainfall and permanent streams sustained several varieties of maize, beans, squash, and gourds in the highlands, where agriculturalists developed irrigation systems and built permanent settlements.

On the eve of the Spanish Conquest, Sonoran peoples comprised many tribes and dialects grouped in two major linguistic families: Hokan and Uto-Aztecan. Highland villagers traveled long-distance trade routes extending from Mesoamerica to the Rio Grande pueblos. European exploration of Sonora began in the 1530s, but no permanent settlements were established until after 1610, when Jesuit missionaries brought riverine farmers under Spanish rule. Missions and presidios formed the nuclei of Sonoran rural towns, which have endured to the present. Mining strikes attracted private settlers to Sonora by the mid-seventeenth century. The mature colonial society of the late eighteenth century relied on a mining and ranching economy that was integrated into regional marketing networks, even as the Bourbon Reforms joined the separate provinces of Sinaloa, Ostimuri, and Sonora in the Intendancy of Arizpe.

The frontier quality of life persisted after Mexican independence, as Sonoran ranchers and townsmen fought against Apache bands who roamed the sierra and raided both white and Amerindian settlements. Moreover, Yaqui and Mayo villagers tenaciously defended their fertile lands against expanding private landholdings. The market economy grew: by the mid-nineteenth century Sonorans exported wheat to California and received increasing European trade through the port of Guaymas. The state capital moved from Arizpe to Ures and Hermosillo, as the leading landed and commercial families established their power base along the Hermosillo-Guaymas axis.

The U.S. invasion of Mexico (1846–1848) and the Treaty of Mesillas (1854), followed by the War of the Reform (1857–1860) and the French Intervention (1864–1867) were important political events for Sonora that redrew its territorial boundaries and redefined its relations with the central government. After 1880, the politics stemming from the presidency of Porfírio Díaz brought a new elite to power in the state and accelerated capitalist development through commercial agriculture and industrial mining. Sonoran leaders played a major role in the Revolution of 1910 and with their military strength brought the Constitutionalists to power. During the 1920s, Sonorans dominated the presidency, reshaping Mexico's political structures.

See alsoGadsden Purchase; Mexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican-American War.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain (1982), provides a masterful overview of history and political geography for northern colonial Mexico. Armando Hopkins Durazo, gen. coord., Historia general de Sonora, 5 vols. (1985), is a summary of geographic, anthropological, and historical research to date. Principal published sources include Andrés Pérez De Ribas, Los Triunfos de nuestra Santa Fé, 3 vols. (1645; published in Mexico, 1944, 1985); Juan Nentvig, Descripción geográfica, natural, y curiosa de la Provincia de Sonora, edited by Germán Viveros (1971), also in English as Rudo Ensayo, a Description of Sonora and Arizona in 1764, edited by Alberto Francisco Pradeau (1980); Ignaz Pfefferkorn, Beschreibung der Landschaft Sonora (1795), also in English as Sonora: A Description of the Province, edited by Theodore Treutlein (1949). The Documentary Relations of the Southwest, University of Arizona, has compiled a computerized index to microfilmed documents in various archives and has published a number of annotated texts in translation, with introductions. Outstanding examples include Charles W. Polzer, Rules and Precepts of the Jesuit Missions of Northwestern New Spain (1976); Thomas H. Naylor and Charles W. Polzer, eds., The Presidio and Militia on the Northern Frontier of New Spain: A Documentary History, 1570–1700 (1986); and Pedro de Rivera and the Military Regulations for Northern New Spain, 1724–1729 (1988). Edward H. Spicer, Cycles of Conquest (1962) and The Yaquis: A Cultural History (1980), are classic ethnohistorical works. Stuart F. Voss, On the Periphery of Nineteenth-Century Mexico: Sonora and Sinaloa, 1810–1877 (1982); and Evelyn Hu-dehart, Yaqui Resistance and Survival: The Struggle for Land and Autonomy, 1821–1910 (1984), are two outstanding histories of nineteenth-century Sonora. Steven E. Sanderson, Agrarian Populism and the Mexican State: The Struggle for Land in Sonora (1981) provides an analysis of twentieth-century Sonora.

Additional Bibliography

Castro Luque, Ana Lucía, Jaime Olea Miranda, and Blanca E. Zepeda Bracamonte. Cruzando el desierto: Construcción de una tipología para el análisis de la migración en Sonora. Hermosillo, Mexico: Colegio de Sonora, 2006.

Radding Murrieta, Cynthia. Landscapes of Power and Identity: Comparative Histories in the Sonoran Desert and the Forests of Amazonia from Colony to Republic. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.

Teja, Jesús F. de la, and Ross Frank. Choice, Persuasion, and Coercion: Social Control on Spain's North American Frontiers. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

Tellman, Barbara, and Diana Hadley. Crossing Boundaries: An Environmental History of the Upper San Pedro River Watershed, Arizona and Sonora. Arizona: s.n., 2006.

                                     Cynthia Radding

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