by Donald E. Sheppard
A Gentleman of Elvas with Hernando de Soto's army wrote "Having got across the Great River, the governor (DeSoto) marched a league and a half (four miles, eastward) and reached a large town of Aquixo (today's Angel Mounds State Park), which was abandoned before his arrival."
© 1993, University of Alabama Press
The late Dr. Glenn A. Black, a noted Indiana archaeologist, published several books* in which he speculated that Hernando de Soto's people may well have described the Angel Mounds Site, an ancient Indian village on the Ohio River several miles east-southeast of Evansville.
Dr. Black noted (*v2, pp 549) that, "...the analogy between the physical type of Angel (Mound) men and women and the... peoples of the Southeast is sufficiently marked to add considerable validity to the documentation we have presented herein aiming toward a reconstruction with aid of historical data (the DeSoto Chronicles), of a preliterate historical site (at Angel Mounds)... It would appear on the basis of archaeological evidence that this site could well have been the "principal town" of almost any one of the "provinces" through which De Soto passed." Dr. Black preceded that statement with fifty pages of comparisons of archaeological data found at Angel Mounds with items described by De Soto's people, including the topography of Angel Mounds with Aquixo (Angel Mounds), Pacaha (Terre Haute), and Casqui (Vincennes), three large Native American sites in Indiana.
The dated argument by 1930's scientists, that DeSoto's people described only Mississippian Mound Societies in the Southeast, was crushed by Dr. Black's careful examination of Angel Mounds - in all respects similar to Southeastern Mounds, the very ones used by 1930's scientists to "prove" that DeSoto's people spent 4 years exploring only the southern portion of today's America. Indiana has been deprived of knowledge of its native culture by such assertions by powerful scientists ever since. Historians, for the most part, have surrendered to that power, but anyone reading the available source material today, with knowledge of twentieth century technology and America's topography, would conclude that all, save Dr. Black, completely missed the mark on DeSoto's trail.
The fact that no other Spanish expedition was ever dispatched after DeSoto's to explore deep into North America, is, in itself, argument enough to reason that DeSoto's army had done so, given that Spain and Portugal successfully explored and colonized nearly ALL of the New World elsewhere. Had DeSoto found what he was looking for in North America, we would all be speaking Spanish today.
*.. Thanks to Mr. B. Michael McCormick, a well published and respected historian of Terre Haute, we find that "Dr. Glenn Black's study of Angel Mounds in Vanderburgh County, Indiana, was published in 1967 by the Indiana Historical Society in two-volumes in a slipcase entitled Angel Site: An Archaeological, Historical and Ethnological Study. Ethnohistory magazine called it "a landmark in New World archaeology." Archaeology magazine hailed it as "a monument to the consummate archaeological craftsmanship and warm personality of the author. The quality of the publication is representative of the esteem Black engendered... I think it is fair to say that Black's Angel Site set is among the most lavish publications ever issued by the Indiana Historical Society."