The Pueblo Revolt

I. Introduction

            A) on August 10, 1680 the Pueblo Indians revolted

                        - all of the Northern tribes of the Pueblos but one (The Piros - never

                          told) and their Apache neighbors combined, defeated the Spanish and

                         drove them out of New Mexico as far as El Paso

                        - the Spanish stayed evicted until 1692

                        - when Don Diego de Cargas Zapata Lujan Ponce de Leon recaptured New

                          Mexico for Spain

            B) Why did they revolt?

                        - what circumstances set off revolt?

                        - what grievances & goals did the Indians have?

            C) How did they revolt?

                        - how did these many diverse tribes - previously divided- manage to win?

                          ( precedents = failure)

                        - who led them and why were they effective?


II. The Events

            1) revolt planned far in advance

                        - all the ceremonial leaders of each tribe ( except the Tanos) involved

                        - they passed a knotted cord from village to village

                                    - # of knots left indicated # of days left until revolt

                        - 1 group of ceremonial leaders, however, were not supportive

                                    - the leaders of the Tano Pueblo turned over 2 of these runners to

                                      Spain & the plot was revealed

                                    - this  a few days before scheduled revolt

                                    - so revolt came early

                                    - Indians had to react before governor Antonio de Olermin could

                                      react - so rose up


            2) the revolt began in the North with Taos - Aug 10

                        - Indians slaughtered priests & soldiers near their homes

                        - then descended on Santa Fe

                        - Indians asked Spanish to leave and return Indian slaves

                        - Spanish refused to surrender

                        - Aug 15 -21 Siege of Santa Fe

                                    - the Spanish fought hard and eventually broke the siege

                                    - but decided to retreat - Aug 21 - Indians pulled out

                        - The Retreat was successful - the Indians did not attack

                                    - Spain fell back to Isleta Indians - who aided them

                                    - joined with Spain from other regions led by Alonso Garcia

                                    - fell back to El Paso

                                                - 21 missionaries killed

                                                - some estimate about  400 civilians & soldiers lost

                                    - The Indians sacked Santa Fe

III. Why the Revolt? circumstances leading up to

            - environmental tensions - 1667 - 72 = drought & crop failures

                        - declining eco base

                        - greater completion for resources

                        - increase in Navajo & Apache raids

            - for Indians - there was a resurgence of "idolatry"

                        - most likely as a reaction to the stress

            - for Spanish a period of crackdown on "idolatry"

                        - drought pulled church - state officials together

                        - 1675  Governor Juan Francisco de Trevino

                                    - rounded up 48 religious leaders from various villages

                                    - had them whipped and do hard labor

                                    - hanged 3 - 4th hanged self

                        - the leadership of the rebellion came out of those whipped in 1675

                        - el Pope of San Juan Pueblo

                                    - Catiti - Santo Domingo Pueblo

                                    ( the two major leaders)

                        - initially these leaders planned to just issue ultimatum to stop desecration of their religion

                        - but as more leaders joined the revolt - goal widened

                        - newer leaders were bi -lingual - closest to Spanish

                                    - mixed blood Indians: Domingo Naranjo, Nicholas Jonva &

                          Domingo Romero

                                    - they wanted Spanish out

                                    - leaders met in secret - after mid in village leaders homes

                                    - came to village on feast day of village saint

                                    - secrecy - Pope killed brother in law, excluded women

                                    - planned the uprising for week before supply's came

                                                - knew Spanish low on ammo etc.

                        - Taos Pueblo = the hot bed

                                    - slaughter not the goal, eviction was the goal

                                                - offer peacefully 1st - then kill if most

                                    - if goals had been warlike, would have killed retreating Spanish

                                                - did not

                        - Sum: immediate circumstances that set off events

                                    - whipping & crack down on Pueblo religion

                                    - but does this alone explain the revolt?

                                    - are there other factors?


            Indians had other grievances not tied to direct circumstances

                        1) Spanish military protection = failing

                        - in decade before the revolt - 5 soldiers at each frontier post

                                    - raids increase

                        2) Angry with Spanish for their participation in Indian slave trading

                        3) labor system - Indians working to pay taxes

                                    - crops levied against in bad times

                                    - furthermore -competing for resources in harsh time

                                                - 400 settlers were killed & 21 missionaries

                                                - if main motive were religion, would have spared civilians

                                                  (beyond soldiers that is)


            Sum: So Pueblo's had a series of grievances: religion, politics, economic

                        that contributed to desire to revolt

                                    - but that still doesn't explain the revolt

                                    - real ? is "How did they manage to pull it off

 - the grievances existed for a long time


- and the Pueblo were not unified

IV. Precedents—earlier attempts had failed:

- 1650 - under Ugarte y de la Concha

                        - some Indian sorcerers circulated idea of revolt

            - got sporadic acceptance - failed

                        - 7- 8 leaders = hanged

            - a few years later - 2nd attempt

            - some ceremonial leaders circulated deerskins

                        - had pictures of rebellion on them

            - again - no universal acceptance

                        - plan shelved


            - Pueblo villages = too divided , local autonomy

            - no mechanism of social control over all tribes

            - need a source of unity

                        - a system of centralized leadership

                        - which needed a sanction: a way of compelling the desired behavior

            - How & why did leadership arise at this time

                        - that could overcome all of these problems


V. Leadership, Pueblo Society & the Revolt

            - Edward Spicer in C of C argues

                        "The leadership had been created by the Spanish themselves in their

             attempt to discipline the group of ceremonial officials." (pg. 163)

                        - i.e. the circumstances created by the Spanish created the leadership nesc

                          for the revolt


            - more to it than that

            - the structure was there - in latent form

            - Although each Pueblo worshipped a different deity

                        - all had similar governmental structure

                        - has divinely ordained authority structures

            - clan owned land (matrilineal - west & central; patrilineal in East)

                        - religion centered on agriculture - esp. corn

                        - thus clan head = religious head - top authority

                                    - war captains under him

            - war leaders trained rigorously

                        - total fasts (food & water)

                        - plunging into icy cold rivers in winter

                        - to be a captain one had to undergo

                                    - flogging while tied to a tree

                                    - sitting naked in the sun on ant hill all day

                        - discipline = way of life

                        - these Indians did not focus on warriors

                                    - but they were available & disciplined

                                                - at least locally

            - tribally - there was no bonding together for defense

            - but there was for agriculture


What, then, gets them together this time?

            - a nativistic vision: nativism = anthropological theory

                        - when a society reaches a given level of stress

                        - it must either find a way to adjust

                        - or it will disintegrate

                        - if the situation is severe enough a prophet may often arise with a divine


-          and offer the society a way out of its present stress through specific actions

-          these often have a divine promise of a new world (often this is the restoration of the old world before contact—often accomplished thru divine intervention)

-          and a sanction for those who don’t get on board

In the case of the Pueblo

            - Pope acted as the nativistic leader

                        - he claimed he had a message from a God

                        - Poheyemo - common unifying link

                                    - all Pueblos believed in Him (tho by different names)

                                    - was God of sun and nature

                        - Poheyemo's message

                                    - rise up and throw off Spanish

                                    - destroy Catholic relics of towns

                                    - purify selves with yucca soup and ritual bathing (to wash off


                        - Po's sanction: he would destroy all who did not join

                        - Po's promise - And the days of the ancients would return

                                    - Po promised prosperity to Pueblo peoples

                                    - destruction to hated enemy

                                    - the message came from a Kiva in Taos

                        -Taos = most rigid, severe, conservative Pueblo

                        - had history of bad relations with Spain

                        - It was there that Pope received his instructions

                                    - According to Indians, the man who brought this message to Pope

                                                - large, dark, & yellow eyed

                                                - feared by all Indians

                        - Spanish dismissed this as myth

                                    - these Indians who talked of him = shot for mockery


            Historian Fray Angellico Chavez thinks he really existed

                        - there was a family, the "Naranjo" of Santa Clara Valley

                        - popped up in records of a controversy in 1766 in Santa Fe

            - Chavez investigated: decided he was this servant of Po'

                        - Indians believed he was sent by Montezuma

- the Naranjo family:

                        - descended from an unknown Black man & Indian woman

                        - Negro = slave who had been freed if he'd go serve with Onate in New


                        - he watched Onate's livestock during the investigation

                        - there had been family history of stirring up Indian trouble

                                    - he was also of mixed race class

                                    - and in contact with other mixed race families

                                    - who provided most radical thrust of movement

- b/c they hated caste system of Spanish that kept them from rising higher in the colonial bureaucracy

                        - some of these men were ritual leaders in their Pueblos

                                    - the brightest Indians

                                    - closest to Spanish culture

                                    - had most to gain from an overthrow

            Did Naranjo exist?

                        - perhaps = can't say for sure

                        - there is a record of Naranjo family

                        - whether he is the real leader of the revolt = uncertain

            In any case:

                        - nativistic movement fizzled

                        - unity quickly dissolved

                        - in order to keep momentum

                        - promises mad e by the Gods must be kept

- in this case prosperity did not follow rebellion

                        - drought & famine did

                        - the people = disillusioned with the vision

                        - fell into traditional patterns of strife as early as 1682


SUM: The Legacy of Revolt

            - 12 years of freedom from Spanish rule

            - severe depopulation of Indians

                        1) due to battle deaths

                        2) and relocation - many Indians fled

                                    - feared Reconquest or retribution

                                    - went to live with Navajos & Apaches

                                    - many towns deserted when Spanish reentered

                        3) Revolution = upheaval & destruction of lands

                                    - captured Indians in RC & sold them into slavery