1680 Pueblo Rebellion
again to all the sources available on the Internet
the vantage point of the 21st Century C.E., it is easy for one to look
back over the centuries and condemn the actions of others. We
see ourselves as so much more aware and sophisticated than our
predecessors. Our own 21st
Century C.E. is perfect and without fault. Therefore,
we are not doomed to repeat these errors. Or
It should be
noted that cultures do clash, particularly those that are immensely
different in character and substance. The
Spanish Nuevo Mundo was no
Spanish forbearers, the Españoles,
were not ignorant of the complexities of conquest, colonization,
settlement, and governance. As
subjects of the Imperio Español
or Spanish Empire and far away España,
they had little power with which to control their environment,
circumstances, or environment. It
was the Spanish Crown that held all power.
The ultimate impact of colonization and settlement on the
Native-Americans of the North American Continent was never an issue to
be discussed and planned for.
the world of the Late-17th Century Nuevo Méjico.
The capital of Nueva España and its Viceroyalty or Virreinato at Méjico City
was 1,600 miles away by mission re-supply wagon train via El Camino Real, and the trip was made only every 2 or 3 years. The
Virreinato and its Viceroy or Virrey
with all decision-making authority resided there.
Nuevo Méjico was but a
distant province having little control or power with which to act
without the expressed permission of the Virrey.
Its Gobernador was in
the end, only a petty official who owed everything to the Virrey.
province had little or no manufacturing only an agricultural, mining,
and livestock economy. Medicine
and its practice were rudimentary at best.
Education was limited, with few schools other than those provided
by the Church. There had
been little progress in the region of Nuevo
Méjico since its inception in 1599 C.E.
from the Virreinato was slow,
if it ever arrived at all. Out
of desperation the Españoles
were forced to act boldly, in a heavy-handed fashion, and with utter
disregard for the consequences of their actions. At
best, the merging of these two distinct cultures of Spanish and Native
was difficult. In the worst
case, it proved to be disastrous.
Old World or Viejo Mundo
European view of civilized behavior left little understanding for their
New World or Nuevo Mundo Pueblo Indian charges. It
can be said that the Native-American view of community and tribal values
were in direct opposition to those held by their new Spanish neighbors. It
was this gross misunderstanding of cultures and the inability to grasp
the essential elements of human respect and dignity that led to the
defeat of the Nuevo Méjico Españoles
by the Pueblo Indians.
was also the failure of the Gobierno
Español and the Franciscan padres
to reach agreement on many issues relating to the Pueblos
and how best to administer them, that exacerbated the situation. The
result of these clashes between church and state was the Pueblo
Revolt of 1680 C.E. and the loss of Nuevo
Méjico by the Españoles
for twelve years.
the Spanish Period (1535 C.E.-1821 C.E.) of Nuevo
Méjico's history, the Gobierno
Español and the Catholic Church altered Indian life in many ways. When
the Españoles first arrived
in Nuevo Méjico
in 1599 C.E., to colonize the only domesticated animals maintained by
the Pueblo Indians were dogs
and turkeys. These animals
were hardly enough to
sustain the large
and growing Pueblo
necessity, the Españoles in
the beginning required the Indians to feed them from an already limited
food supply. This proved to
be an oppressive burden during the dry growing seasons and a disaster
overall. In an effort to
mitigate the situation the Españoles
integrated the Pueblos into
the Spanish economy, but this took time. The
Españoles provided the Indian tribes with tools, crops, and Viejo
Mundo livestock such as sheep hoping to expand foods supplies. Over
time, sheep began to be traded to the Indians. The
wool from these Spanish sheep soon replaced the cotton plant as the
material used in Indian blankets.
the Españoles imposed two
systems. Implementing the Encomienda
and Repartimiento systems forced Indians to pay taxes with food,
blankets, and labor. Repartimiento
was a detriment to the Indians because it took them away from their own
fields to plant and harvest Spanish fields.
first system was the Encomienda,
a form of taxation that required the Indians to pay using corn and
blankets. Thus, the
encomienda did not require a tax in the form of labor.
The second system was the Repartimiento
which required the Indians to pay taxes using their labor for tilling
fields and tending livestock instead of corn and blankets.
the context of Europeanization of the Native-Americans, one must
remember that slavery was commonplace and conscripted labor was a fact
of life in the Viejo Mundo.
European lords regularly used their vassals to work their lands
and tend their animals. This
was not some oddity with its beginning in the Nuevo Mundo. It was in
fact a carry-over from the Viejo
Spanish settlers or Pobladores
used their wards much like their European forefathers used surfs. They
incorporated Indian labor as an enforced labor system or tool for
accomplishing this goal. What
the Españoles failed to grasp
was the fact that the Indians were already working hard to provide for
themselves food and shelter. To
worsen the situation, Spanish villages or villas
and farms were constructed on prime land and near important water
sources. As a result,
Indians lost prime farm and grazing lands at the same time they were
taxed and forced to work the lands for the Españoles.
the complexity of community interaction increased and misunderstandings
arose between the parties, the issue of Spanish dominance began to be
questioned by the Pueblos. These
challenges brought about the raiding of Indian camps for the return of
livestock and Indian men, women, and children were forced into Spanish
service as servants in their homes.
must be stated here without equivocation that these actions did result
in the loss of Indian lands, family disruptions, and the loss of lives. Under
no circumstances was this acceptable.
However, given the technology of the time, a general lack of
needed resources, and the inability to plan for contingencies a clash of
these two cultures was inevitable.
must also ask the question, what happened when the Native-Americans
gained as much knowledge about agriculture, livestock, and mining as the
Did they not see themselves as equal with the Españoles?
And what of the knowledge provided the Native-Americans by the
1680 C.E., over eighty missions had been built by the Catholic
Franciscans in Nuevo Méjico to bring the Christian God to the Native-Americans.
The Church by necessity integrated the Pueblo
Indians into the mission labor force and also into Spanish Colonial
society. The Church believed
the Indians needed to rechannel their energies towards utilitarian tasks
which were more useful and thereby aid the Spanish laity and clergy.
padres placed men into basic
work performance categories. This
was based upon their ability to learn tasks, speak Spanish, and abide by
Mission rules. Clearly, a
new social hierarchy developed with skilled Native-American craftsman at
the top and general laborers at the bottom.
These skilled craftsmen were masons, blacksmiths, carpenters,
tanners, saddle makers. There
were also alcaldes or mission officials and work supervisors.
The semi-skilled craftsman did such jobs as tallow workers,
butchers, hide cleaners, and later cowboys or vaqueros.
These were horse-mounted livestock herders of a tradition that
originated on the Iberian Peninsula.
Native-America horticulturists included crop, garden, vineyard
planters, pruners, and managers. The
general laborers included field hands, adobe brick makers, roofing, tile
and brick production workers, the clearing fields, field plowing, and
females held jobs similar to many of their former native jobs such as
the preparation of food and the raising children. The
padres placed all unmarried women in separate living quarters or monjeríos
beginning around age ten. These
were dormitories which insured abstinence before marriage and to
assimilate young girls and women into Spanish culture. Once
married, the women lived with their husband in family living quarters. Women’s
jobs and responsibilities included the grinding of corn, hauling
drinking water in from the outdoors, caring for the sick, washing of
clothing, preparing meals, weaving cloth, supervising and raising of
children, the gathering firewood, and assisting with grain threshing.
this training and experience, some mission Indians over time became
disenchanted with the mission system and its rules.
As they ran away and returned to the Pueblos,
they exchanged their knowledge for protection.
This produced in the Pueblos
a sense of independence and a lessening of reliance on the Españoles.
Given the rigidity of the Spanish caste system, the Pueblos
became disenchanted with the social order and dominance by the Españoles.
Yet, the Indians remained reluctant to overturn the Spanish
the Gobierno Español formed
alliances with Indian tribes of the surrounding areas in an effort to
expand influence and control. They
also provided them with tools, crops, and livestock. Unfortunately,
the Españoles also allowed
them horses and arms. These
actions led to shifting tribal alliances and brought about new rivalries
between the Native-Americans. In
some cases, the new materials made available to tribes gave them
superior weaponry over their longtime enemies. As
they acquired horses, the Indians became more mobile and that mobility
made them more dangerous. Additionally,
Spanish weapons and horses obtained by the marauding Indians were
quickly used against peaceful Indian villages and later against Spanish Pobladores.
addition, Spanish intervention resulted in changing tribal customs and
religious traditions. Pueblo
Indian culture fostered respect for the views and decisions of their
religious leaders. This
cultural respect extended to the Catholic frays
who were attempting to convert them to Christianity. As
the government fought openly with the friars, Indian respect for the
missionaries deteriorated. They
began to question whether they could believe the friars, especially in
view of the fact that the Gobierno
Español didn't believe in them. To
make matters worse, while the two sides struggled for the right to rule
the Indians, their wards were neglected, abused, and starved.
cause central to the Pueblo
revolt involved the troubles that the Indians endured prior to the
revolt. The Pueblo
Indians blamed the Spanish missionaries due to their zealous demands
regarding the Pueblo's
religious culture. The
mission frays didn't allow them to perform their ceremonial rituals. In
addition, religious artifacts and kivas were destroyed by the Spanish soldados
or soldiers. The soldados acted on orders issued by the missionaries.
essence, the Indian Revolt in Nuevo
Méjico was a direct result of
years of Spanish colonial injustice. By
placement of the encomienda
and repartimiento systems on
the Indians and the demoralizing actions by the Gobierno
Español fueled the fire of insurrection. The
actions that finally exacerbated the situation and led to the Pueblo
revolt were Spanish demands regarding Pueblo
frays had prohibited the
Indians from performing their ceremonial dances and other rituals. When
caught following their own religious beliefs, the Indians were severely
punished so tribal ceremonies were held in secrecy. In
an attempt to eliminate Indian religious practices, religious artifact
and kivas used by the Pueblo
Indians as ceremonial chambers and for the lodging of visitors were
destroyed. The reluctant
Spanish soldados followed orders and carried out the destruction of
important Indian religious symbols. The
Pueblo Indians attributed
blame squarely on the Spanish missionaries and their zealousness.
the most part, the Pueblo
people accepted their strange, new neighbors. Many
Indians had attempted to blend their customs with those of the Españoles
and many completely gave up their old way of life in favor of Spanish
culture and religion. But
over the years, resistance to Spanish attempts at religious and cultural
conversion simmered until finally igniting into the Pueblo
Indian Revolt of 1680. Eventually,
resentment over the imposition of Spanish culture and the repression of
indigenous religions came crashing down in the Pueblo
Revolt. This was the only
successful revolt ever waged in the Americas against the Spanish
presence. In the end,
burdened by the heavy-handed Spanish rule, constant demands for tribute,
oppressive labor, and attempts to annihilate the native religion, the Pueblo
people's resentment of Spanish authority grew. When
the Indians could endure no more, the uprising followed. It
lasted for more than a decade and cost Nueva
España her newest and most isolated colony.
August 9th, Indians throughout the region overthrew the Gobierno Español, burned their churches, and killed their padres.
Led by Taos
Pueblo, they revolted killing many of the thirty-five hundred Pobladores
strung out from Santa Cruz de la
Cañada (near Española)
to Socorro and driving the rest south to El Paso del Norte (El Paso).
Fortunately, Padre Francisco de Ayeta was able to supply the Pobladores,
soldados, and missionaries with what was needed to aid in their
escape to El Paso. Still,
in the end, the Indians drove the Españoles
back to toward Méjico City.
a century of bringing the teachings of Christianity to the pueblos, such as the Pecos
Pueblo, and giving the Indians a new way of life, the Españoles were overcome. Pecos'
Nuestra Señora Church was destroyed in the great Pueblo
Revolt of 1680. This
stunning defeat of the Españoles
by the pueblos of Nuevo Méjico
brought the work of the Church to an abrupt halt.
revolt had been led by Popé
or Po'pay, an Indian medicine
man, of the San Juan Pueblo.
Earlier he had been flogged by Spanish authorities. Now
filled with hate and rage, he vowed vengeance. Escaping
to the Taos Pueblo, he gained
alliances with other Pueblo
groups and the support of neighboring Apache
tribes. After almost one
hundred years of Spanish dominance, the Pueblo
communities were finally united. Realizing
that the Españoles were
vulnerable the ambitious, bitter, Indian medicine man and his Indians in
a fury lashed out destroying everything Spanish.
embittered medicine man could not forget that day in 1675 C.E., when he
was arrested by the Spanish authorities for the sin of encouraging
Indian rejection of Christian teachings. Publicly
flogged, he was then banished from the pueblo
by order of Gobernador Francisco
Treviño. The cruel
punishment only enraged the medicine man's feelings and hatred towards
the Españoles. Over the
next several years he plotted and planned. Five
years after his beating, Po’pay
led his successful revolt.
truth, prior to the flogging Po’pay
had been a self-proclaimed enemy of the Gobierno
Español. Before the
whipping, the medicine man had secretly planned a revolt to drive out
the missionaries and the Españoles.
However, his plans could not
be carried out. Therefore, he had for sometime been an insurrectionist
and strong anti-Spanish advocate.
is known that he told his trusted medicine men and war captains that
while praying in the kiva, the
god Poheyemo appeared to him
and appointed him his representative. The
god ordered him to kill all the Españoles,
destroy every symbol of Christianity, and to return the Indians to their
former way of life. Although
this movement was not popular among all the pueblos,
few disagreed. He then told
his plans to his trusted followers and those who could keep his secrets.
would unite the warriors of the different pueblos
with various Apache tribes and
launch a surprise attack. First,
they would attack the Españoles
at Santa Fé and the weakly
guarded settlements and missions. The
Españoles everywhere would
then be attacked. Po’pay finally issued those orders to the pueblos under a cloud of secrecy. The
date for the attack was August 11th, but Gobernador
Otermín learned of it. However, the Gobernador
didn’t think the attack was as extensive as it proved to be and
ignored the warning. On
Gobierno Español was ill
prepared to defend and overcome the Indians. Short
on provisions, a shipment of supplies that had been due to arrive
hadn’t. This lack of
supplies contributed directly to the defeat of the Spanish settlement at
had moved the attack one-day ahead of schedule and laid siege to Santa Fé on August 10th. The
vengeful Po’pay led all the Nuevo
Méjico pueblos against
the Españoles in an orgy of
murder, rape, and plunder. Across
northern Nuevo Méjico, Spanish Pobladores
were massacred and farms and ranches burned to the ground. In
a bid to eradicate every symbol of the new Catholic religion,
twenty-eight padres and lay
brothers were killed in a single day. Churches,
vestments, crosses, and holy images were desecrated in the rebellion.
several hundred Pueblo
warriors lay siege to the provisional capital at Santa
Fé. After a period of
nine days, the rebellious Indians agreed to spare the lives of Gobernador Antonio de Otermín
the besieged Pobladores once
the Españoles agreed to leave Nuevo
following day, the Gobernador and more than one thousand Pobladores with their belongings began the long trek to El Paso. The
once proud Españoles were
beaten and driven from their remote province of northwestern Nueva
España. At Pecos, Fray Juan de la Pedrosa,
the resident priest, two Españolas,
and three defenseless children were murdered in the early hours of the
the Españoles defeated, Po’pay
ordered those Indians married in the church to abandon their spouses and
marry others. Religious
ceremonies of the Catholic Church were banned and the Indians prohibited
from verbally using the names of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the
Saints. However, many Indian
believers in the teachings of the Catholic Church, kept religious items
from being destroyed by hiding them until the frays could return.
the movement’s leaders wanted the Indians to return to their previous
way of life, the majority of the Indians were unable to do so. Spanish
sheep had become important to Pueblo
life because of its meat and wool. And
Spanish tools and weapons were superior to those previously used. The
result was a native population divided.
Españoles faced with a
stunning defeat and the loss of Nuevo
Méjico, were left confused.
Government officials in Méjico
City, the capital of Nueva España,
considered abandoning the province. Padre
Francisco de Ayeta, the supply officer for the missions, rode twelve
hundred miles to convince the Viceroy or Virrey
that Nuevo Méjico was
important and insured its survival.
the Españoles remained in Méjico,
the Indian tribes returned to their old ways. The Utes,
Navajos, and Apaches harassed the Pueblos.
The once fierce Apaches, who had learned corn planting and homebuilding from the
Pueblos, found themselves under siege by invading Comanches and were beginning to be driven south. And
less than a year later, the brutal Po’pay's
followers ousted the swaggering medicine man. Having
grown weary of his efforts to make himself a dictator, his former allies
were happy to see him go.
the Pueblo Revolt on December
6, 1681 C.E., the ousted Gobernador
Antonio de Otermín and seventy Spanish Soldados
returned to Nuevo Méjico only to learn that all northern pueblos except Isleta were still in rebellion. With
the knowledge that the territory was lost the missionaries and the
government now focused on working together to achieve the reconquest of Nuevo
had died and the reconquest by Gobernador
de Vargas’ soldados was
inevitable. Over the course
of time the Pueblo’s
disbanded and returned to their old ways. This
included each pueblo being autonomous from the others. They
were no longer united, still, over the next twelve years the Pueblo
Indians would enjoy their hard fought freedom.
an effort to halt the Indian threat the Españoles
established a central point for the military defense of Nuevo Méjico it centered
on two garrisons. One was
built at El Paso in 1683 C.E.
year later, on November 28, 1684 C.E., the failed, beaten, and exiled Nuevo
Méjico authorities lost a boundary dispute with the authorities of Nueva
Vizcaya or northern Mexico. In
the settlement Nuevo Méjico lost all
claims to the El Paso area.
the Pueblo Revolt and the
future reconquest the authority of the Catholic Church was reduced
substantially. The Gobierno
Español held on to Nuevo Méjico
principally as a defensive buffer against these enemies of the Spanish
Crown or Corona Española because of the expanding influence of the
French, English, and Russians in North America.
can and must be learned by the Pueblo
Revolt is that many factors led to the tipping point.
Firstly, Nuevo Méjico
had had over eighty years of social, political, and religious change.
The Españoles there
suffered from neglect by the Virreinato
at Méjico City.
It had stood as a long-ignored outpost of Nueva
España some 1,600 miles away. It
was a place and people lost in time, a backwater.
The sheer weight of the loneliness and abandonment was taking its
toll. With few resources,
little manufacturing beyond necessities, and only a bleak future to look
forward to, the New Mexicans began that long spiral into a failed state.
Native-Americans had been educated and trained by the Church and its frays.
Their skill-sets and capabilities outstripped the understanding
of the Europeans, who saw them only as part of a caste system.
The Native-Americans had grown beyond that image.
They were ready to be accepted as partners and not underlings.
Españoles of Nuevo Méjico saw the Pueblos
as providing an unending stream of willing workers with which to support
progress in Nuevo Méjico.
Both the Church and the government were trapped in a vision of
the past, one which could not be replaced by the needs of the present.
The Native-Americans were necessary participants in everyday
life, but not to be recognized less the order of things fall apart.
had her part in this play. She
brought droughts, epidemics, and famine.
She broke the back of the Spanish Empire in Nuevo
The Españoles tried
desperately to tame her with their water systems for agriculture and new
farming methods. Their Viejo
Mundo plants and animals could feed many, but they too had to be
fed. When famine struck, it
struck all. Calamity after
calamity beset them.
old, unending Native-American disputes continued despite Spanish
interference. The Utes, Navajos, and Apaches
continued their harassment of the Pueblos.
The once fierce Apaches had learned corn planting and homebuilding from the Pueblos.
They found themselves under
siege by invading Comanches.
The strain of it drove the Indigenous to despair and finally to
the end, the uprising cost everyone, everything.
The Españoles of Nuevo
Méjico were humiliated by defeat and exile.
The Pueblos had won only a temporary reprieve from an impossible cast
system, which would soon return with a vengeance.
The Church had been overcome and its god tested and found
wanting. Only time and fate
would tell the next chapter for this Nuevo
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