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Manso (aka Tanpachoas, Gorretas)

This pecked image in a weathered boulder seems to show a Manso, with the cap-like haircut, as described in the documents. Neighboring Natives downriver are also mentioned as placing decorative items in their hair, as seems to be the case here, with acorns adoring this figure.

This is a unique and seemingly clear depiction of a Manso, but there is also other evidence that can now, at least tentatively, be connected with the early Manso or Tanpachoa.

A decade or so ago, I saw many features that were associated with those of the Apache (Cerro Rojo complex) and Jocome/Jano (Canutillo complex), but at the time it was unclear whether these were related to the Manso or whether they represented late Jornada Mogollon. Now, it seems, there is no difference because it now seems pretty clear, based on multiple lines of evidence, that the Manso did in fact descend directly from the Jornada Mogollon.  But a little before these people were called Tanpachoa and Manso, the nature of their adaptation and use of the landscape changed. It was no longer  consistent with the El Paso phase of the prehistoric sequence even though it derived from it. While still during a time before historic records first documented their presence, the Tanpachoa/Manso seemed to have shifted to use of smaller sites and perhaps even different portions of the landscape. Much more study needs to be completed, but it seems we are finally on the precipice of truly understanding these people from ancient times. Of course, their descendants still reside in the El Paso and Las Cruces areas and elsewhere, which is one of the key sources of data that has allowed the dots to be connected in a more meaningful way.

Unlike their Apache and Jocome/Jano neighbors who were highly mobile, the Manso were farmers and they fished. The rabbit drive was critical for their survival as well and played  an important role in subsistence, social interaction, and spirituality. They were much like the Tohono O'odham of southern Arizona, in that they practiced a two village way of life. They fished and planted along the river but when the storms came and cause the river to flow in a torrent they fled to the foothills. There they also lived seasonally, utilizing a different set of resources to supplement those of the river.  The houses or chozas in the river valley were usually washed away seasonally, while those in the foothills, mountains, and inter-valleys were left for their continued use. This seasonal destruction is one reason why it has taken so long to understand the archaeology of these people.  


It is not yet know when they shifted from small pueblos to smaller habitations in rancherias but some of this difference we see in the archaeological record may be related to their more mobile lifestyle adopted when some of them chose to remain free and therefore allied themselves with the Apache and Jano, Jocome, and Suma.  Even though these Manso were more mobile than those Manso who remained near the river and resided at the newly established missions, they still maintained some suggestion of their more settled lifeway. If my current inferences are correct, the rectilinear walls shown in the image below at the Cerro Rojo Site are Manso features used by rebel Manso. These features occur on the same site as Apache and Jano/Jocome evidence but these are separated in a different locus, as one might expect when people of different backgrounds or from different villages come together for a supersized gathering. The Apache, Jano, and Jocome constructed structures that were more curvilinear than rectilinear and their artifacts looked very distinctive.


The images above are from the Cerro Rojo Site.

The images that follow are from Alamo Mountain and represent one of many locations where probable Manso features were identified but could not until now be connected with them. This is the general area where rock art is located that can be associated with the Manso.


Many more of these types of features were identified at other sites and in other areas over two decades ago. Current efforts are underway to relocate these and to find material to associate with the Manso and to chronometrically date the sites. Through these means it will be possible to eventually peg these types of sites and their features to the so-called "protohistoric" and historic periods and associate them more definitively with the Manso.  This research will also presumably show us how artifacts, features, and landscape use change as people become more mobile under circumstances of extreme pressure during warfare. This renewed project is full of hope and possibilities.  

The Manso were said to have used the bow and arrow, and this is likely to have been the case. It seems also that they may have continued using the atlatl. There are three reasons to believe this might be the case. First, the projectile point drawn by a Manso descendant looks very much like large atlatl-type points found in the region, that is, dart points. Second, points somewhat like this were found at the site of the 1698 battle along the San Pedro in southern Arizona where Manso were said to have been among the attacking enemy. All of the other groups have been identified by their point styles. large dart points are associated with some of the mission sites of the area and it makes sense that the Manso might have used this point style when the settled in the missions, just as they had before they were missionized and as some did when they remained free.  Finally, during an interview, Cruz Camargo described the atlatl as one of the types of weapons or hunting devices used by the Manso.

The Manso were clearly river-focused. As noted, their name, Tanpachoa, derives from their practice of diverting river water into channels to water their mid-channel fields. They grew corn, beans, and squash, among other plants, like most Southwestern farmers. 

bird trap_edited.jpg

They used nets to fish with, and sometimes also used lances to spear fish or other river resources. They trapped birds as well. A wide range of migratory birds were attracted by the lush river environment. They would construct the trap much like an upside-down basket and then hide in the vegetation waiting for a bird to be attracted to the bait of seeds or fruit. At least during the historic period they kept turkeys and other fowl, clipping their wings and using feed to keep them near or constructing cages to keep them, all within the family compound. The houses in the compound were encircled by a low embankment of dirt so as to keep the water from flooding, at least during lower flow periods.

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