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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Reviews: "Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe" by William E. Unrau

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 7:20 pm, Thu Jun 26, 2014.

Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe by William E. Unrau, University of Kansas Press, 192 pages

In 1821, Mexico achieved independence from Spain. Spanish trade tariffs in the northern provinces were removed. On Sept. 1, William Becknell, having ventured from Missouri with equine stock to trade, was warmly welcomed by Gov. Facundo Melgares upon arrival in Santa Fe. Among other developments that year, Missouri became a state. One of its first elected U.S. senators was Thomas Hart Benton. Becknell’s bold New Mexico trading initiative and Benton’s powerful position in the Senate, from which he could champion his belief in national expansion through commerce, set the context for William E. Unrau’s Indians, Alcohol, and the Roads to Taos and Santa Fe. The book explores the importance of the roles of trade, specifically trade in alcohol, and the western routes facilitating that trade. He specifically discusses “alcohol and its impact on Indians along the frontier trails threading through the so-called Indian Country between Missouri and Mexico.” 

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