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    Indian Chief José Miguel Balli. 1808 Document Petitioning Governor Don Manuel Yturbe e Yraeta on a Matter Involving Leased Sheep. Three and a half pages, 8.25" x 11.75", Spanish text, Reynosa, December 5, 1808, paper slightly toned with some areas of chipping at the edges and the usual fold creases, otherwise a legible document in near fine condition.

    José Miguel Balli (alternately spelled Bally), was a native of San Joaquin del Monte Mission (annexed to the village of Reynosa) and governor-chief of the Pintos, Comecrudos, and Texones Indian tribes. It was not uncommon for local natives to take the name of the settlers they served, in this case likely Juan José Balli, rancher and local Reynosa official. In this document Chief Balli petitions Governor Don Manuel Yturbe e Yraeta for recovery of a herd of sheep leased to "various subjects who have received and continue to receive the entire product they furnish and that we are not owners, and can not benefit in anything when we come to have urgent needs...". Balli further asks that the sheep be returned and that the tribes will furnish herders and care for the sheep. The governor's decision, appended to the end of the original document and dated December 19, 1808, returns the matter to the local authorities for the ultimate ruling. A document signed by an American Indian Chief, using the civil courts, is almost unheard of, and more so from the early 19th century.

    The Pintos, Comecrudos, and Texones Indian tribes were located in northern Mexico and southern Texas and this document provides an early record of their assimilation into the dominant Mexican culture. From the Taking of Texas Collection.

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    June, 2008
    14th Saturday
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