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Olmos, Andrés de


Franciscan missionary and linguist, early investigator of Native American lore in New Spain; b. near Oña, Burgos, Spain, c. 1491; d. Tampico, New Spain, buried there, August of 1570 (not Oct. 8, 1571, as some sources state). He spent some years in Olmos, near Valladolid, whence came the name he used. He studied at the University of Valladolid and at age 20 entered the Franciscan Order at Abrojo. When his superior, Juan de zumÁrraga, was named bishop of Mexico, he took Andrés de Olmos to New Spain with him in 1528. According to the chronicler Vázquez, he was in Guatemala from 1529 to the middle of 1530, but it is probable that he was there after 1543. He spent some time in Tecamachalco, where he was superior in 1543; in Tlalmanalco; in Cuernavaca; and in Tlaxcala. In 1544 he tried to go to Florida and was at least instrumental in getting the expedition under way. He was chiefly responsible for spreading Christianity among the Huastec, Totonac, Tepehua, and Chichimec tribes, often with great sacrifice. From Hueytlalpan he evangelized the surrounding area and in the process learned Totonac and Tepehua. There, to assist in the work of conversion, he wrote his Arte de la lengua mexicana (1547) and prepared grammars in Totonac and Huastec. In 1557, or shortly thereafter, he penetrated the interior north of Tamaholipa and sought help in colonizing the area of the three rivers of Palmas (today Soto la Marina), Bravo, and Achiuse (today the Mississippi).

[j. meade]

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