Pueblo Revolt

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PUEBLO REVOLT. After the Spanish established a colony in the Rio Grande valley in 1598, they seized Indian land and crops and forced Indians to labor in Spanish fields and in weaving shops. The Indians were denied religious freedom, and some Indians were executed for practicing their spiritual religion.

The pueblos were independent villages, and the Indians spoke many dialects of several distinct languages. Occasionally an uprising against the Spanish would begin in one pueblo, but it would be squashed before it could spread to neighboring pueblos. Leaders were hanged, others enslaved.

In 1675, the Spanish arrested forty-seven medicine men from the pueblos and tried them for witchcraft. Four were publicly hanged; the other forty-three were whipped and imprisoned. Among them was Popé, a medicine man from San Juan. The forty-three were eventually released, but the damage had been done and the anger ran deep. Through the use of multilingual Indian traders, Popé recruited leaders (including Saca, Tapatú, and Catiti) in other pueblos to plan the overthrow of the Spanish. He demanded extreme secrecy.

The date was set. On 10 August 1680, Indians attacked northern settlements, killed Spanish men, women, and children, took horses and guns, and burned churches. As word spread of the massacres, nearby Spanish settlers fled to Spanish Governor Antonio de Otermín's enclosure at Santa Fe.

In the southern area around Isleta, Indians spread rumors that the governor had been killed, leading settlers to flee. Meanwhile, Indians surrounded Santa Fe, and after a few days' siege, Otermín's settlers retreated south.

Although the Indians had killed 400 Spaniards and succeeded in driving the rest of the colonists out of the Rio Grande country, they did not continue their confederation. As a consequence, the Spanish were eventually able to re-establish their authority. By 1692 they had reoccupied Santa Fe, but they did not return to their authoritarian ways. The Spanish did not force the Indians to convert to Christianity and they tolerated the continuation of native traditions. Pueblo people have been able to maintain a great deal of their traditions because of the respect they won in the 1680 rebellion.


Knaut, Andrew L. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Riley, Carroll L. Rio del Norte: People of the Upper Rio Grande from Earliest Times to the Pueblo Revolt. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995.

Veda BoydJones

See alsoConquistadores ; New Mexico ; Southwest .