||Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermín's Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682 [volume 8--excerpt]
||Hackett, Charles Wilson (editor) and Charmion Clair Shelby (translator). Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermín's Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682. (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1942). Volume 8, pages 3-23.
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Revolt of the Pueblo Indians, 1680
After the conquest of northern New Mexico by Juan de Oñate
at the turn of the seventeenth century (see documents AJ-010 to
AJ-015 and AJ-101 to AJ-105), Spanish authorities systematically
subjugated the inhabitants of the pueblos. Indians who had lived
and worshiped independently for centuries were forced to abandon
their religions, adopt Christianity, and pay tribute to Spanish
rulers. Their traditional centers of worship (kivas) were
destroyed along with the sacramental objects (kachinas)
with which their ceremonies and devotions had always been performed.
Resistance to Spanish rule was met with imprisonment, torture, and
After three generations of oppression, in the spring of 1680, the
Pueblo Indians rose up to overthrow the Spanish. A religious leader
from Taos Pueblo named Pope (sometimes found as Popay)
secretly organized a widespread rebellion to occur throughout the
region on a single day. Planning took shape silently during the
summer of 1680 in more than 70 communities, from Santa Fe and Taos
in the Rio Grande valley to the Hopi pueblos nearly 300 miles west.
On the night of August 10, 1680, Indians in more than two dozen
pueblos simultaneously attacked the Spanish authorities. A force
of 2,500 Indian warriors sacked and burned the colonial headquarters
in Santa Fe. By the time the revolt succeeded, Indian fighters had
killed more than 400 Spanish soldiers and civilians (including two-thirds
of the Catholic priests in the region) and had driven the surviving
Europeans back to El Paso.
The Indian leaders then restored their own religious institutions
and set up a government that lasted until 1692. The Pueblo Revolt
of 1680 was the single most successful act of resistance by Native
Americans against a European invader. It established Indian independence
in the pueblos for more than a decade, and even after Spanish domination
was re-imposed it forced the imperial authorities to observe religious
tolerance. Ever since the seventeenth century, the cross and the
kiva have existed side by side in pueblo communities.
The documents presented here give both Spanish and Indian versions
of the events of August 1680. AJ-009a includes 13 documents written
in August 1680 by Spanish leader Don Antonio de Otermín as
he attempted to discover what was happening. It includes his reports
and legal documents, as well as depositions by witnesses. Document
AJ-009b is comprised of several interviews conducted by authorities
the following year with Indians who had known about the conspiracy
or been involved in the revolt.
Other Internet and Reference Sources
The volume entitled What Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?
contains additional readings selected and introduced by David J.
Weber and Henry Warner Bowden (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's,
1999); excerpts are available at
PBS television's web site “New Perspectives on the West” includes
background summaries and additional documents at
The Cibola Project at the University of California-Berkeley
proposes to include newly edited and translated documents about
the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 when it is completed. This project is
described in "Trouble for the Spanish: The Pueblo Revolt of
1680" by Pedro Ponce; in the NEH newsletter Humanities
(Nov.-Dec. 2002, pp. 20-24) available online at
To learn more about Pueblo Indian culture and history, visit the
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center web site at