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Document Number: AJ-009a
Author:
Title: Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermín's Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682 [volume 8--excerpt]
Source: 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.
Pages/Illustrations: 23 / 0
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-009a/

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 amputations.

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 http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/usingseries/hovey/weber.htm

PBS television's web site “New Perspectives on the West” includes background summaries and additional documents at http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/one/pueblo.htm

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 http://www.neh.gov/news/humanities/2002-11/pueblorevolt.html

To learn more about Pueblo Indian culture and history, visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center web site at http://www.indianpueblo.org/intro/index.cfm

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