5.3.7 Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermín's Attempted Reconquest, 1680-1682
After the conquest of northern New Mexico by Juan de Oñate at the turn of the seventeenth century, 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.
In 1680, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico rebelled against the Spanish missionaries and soldiers, destroying every Catholic church in the region. This document is a transcription of an interview taken by Spanish authorities of a man named Pedro Naranjo, an Indian prisoner. It also mentions Pope, a figure who had spiritual power and authority with Pueblo people. This is one of the few written sources that we have of a Pueblo man explaining the reasons behind the revolt.
Based on your reading of this document, do you think Pueblo Indians revolted for reasons that relate to diplomacy, conflict, and religion, or a combination of the three? What information does Naranjo give us that helps us understand how Natives and Spanish settlers interacted?
In 1680, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico rebelled against the Spanish missionaries and soldiers, destroying every Catholic church in the region. This document is a transcription of an interview taken by Spanish authorities of a man named Pedro Naranjo, an Indian prisoner. It also mentions Pope, a figure who had spiritual power and authority with Pueblo people. This is one of the few written sources that we have of a Pueblo man explaining the reasons behind the revolt.Ask your students to read this document with a critical eye toward how Naranjo explained his view of the Catholic Church and Spanish missionaries. Ask your students to consider the following questions: Based on your reading of this document, do you think Pueblo Indians revolted for reasons that relate to diplomacy, conflict, and religion — or a combination of all three? What information does Naranjo give us that helps us understand how Natives and Spanish settlers interacted?
"In the said plaza de armas on the said day, month, and year, for the prosecution of the judicial proceedings of this case his lordship caused to appear before him an Indian prisoner named Pedro Naranjo, a native of the pueblo of San Felipe, of the Queres nation, who was captured in the advance and attack upon the pueblo of La Isleta. He makes himself understood very well… He took the oath in due legal form in the name of God, our Lord, and a sign of the cross, under charge of which he promised to tell the truth….
Asked whether he knows the reason or motives which the Indians of the kingdom had for rebelling… and why they burned the images, temples, crosses, rosaries, and things of divine worship, committing such atrocities as killing priests, Spaniards, women and children…
It was proclaimed in all the pueblos that everyone in common should obey the commands of their father whom they did not know, which would be given through El Caydi or El Pope. This was heard by Alonso Catiti, who came to the pueblo of his declarant to say that everyone must unite to go to the villa to kill the governor and the Spaniards who remained with him, and that he who did not obey would, on their return, be beheaded; and in fear of this they agreed to it… as soon as the Spaniards had left the kingdom an order came from the said Indian, Pope, in which he commanded all the Indians to break the lands and enlarge their cultivated fields, saying that now they were as they had been in ancient times, free from the labor they had performed for the religious and the Spaniards, who could not now be alive. He said that this is the legitimate cause and the reason they had for rebelling, because they had always desired to live as they had when they came out of the lake of Copala….”
He [Pope] saw to it that they at once erected and rebuilt their houses of idolatry which they call estufas, and made very ugly masks in imitation of the devil in order to dance the dance of the cacina; and he said likewise that the devil had given them to understand that living thus in accordance with the law of their ancestors, they would harvest a great deal of maize, many beans, a great abundance of cotton, calabashes, and very large watermelons and cantaloupes; and that they could erect their houses and enjoy abundant health and leisure.”