The First Spanish Period in New Mexico: A Tour of the Pueblo Revolt

The first Spanish period in New Mexico, starting with the Acoma Massacre by Juan de Oñate in 1599 and ending with Governor Otermin’s expulsion from Santa Fe during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, saw much conflict as the Pueblo people adapted to the Spanish presence while Spaniards attempted to rule over the Pueblos both spiritually and physically. Additionally, territorial governors often battled Franciscan missionaries, as they shared few goals for colonization in New Mexico. The governors were concerned with keeping order and making the colony profitable, while the Franciscans cared little for Pueblo public sentiment as long as their orders were being followed and more Pueblos became Catholic. This conflict saw several governors excommunicated and sent to answer to the Mexican Inquisition, and several priests arrested by territorial forces. The Puebloan peoples ultimately ended these conflicts when the Spanish pushed too far while attempting to eradicate Pueblo religion.

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 has been called the First American Revolution by Pueblo historian Joe Sando. This conflict linked many pueblos, as geographically disparate as Taos and Hopi, to band together to overthrow the Spanish regime. Even when Diego de Vargas reconquered the territory for Spain in 1692, the Franciscans never again wielded the power that they had before, and evangelism assumed a secondary role to military and pacification concerns. With the growth in power of nomadic raiders like the Comanche and the Navajo, the Spanish government, and later the Mexican one, could not afford to intrude into the lives of the Puebloan peoples like the Franciscans in the first period.

This tour will discuss the reasons for the Pueblo Revolt, while also analyzing the outcomes and discussing the pueblos and buildings depicted within. While the buildings and pueblos will have independent discussions, the bulk of the tour will be about the Pueblo Revolt and how it linked all of these sites.

Acoma Pueblo and the Spanish Arrival to New Mexico

The Acoma people have inhabited Acoma Pueblo, now called Sky City or Old Acoma, for at least a millenia. Oral history tells that the pueblo was originally located on the similarly sized mesa directly to the east, but that a tragedy led the Acoma…

Jemez Pueblo and Resistance to Spanish Rule

Jemez Pueblo, or Walatowa, consists of several villages united by a shared background and their unique usage of the Towa language. These villages sit at the mouth of the Cañon de San Diego. The formidable fortified villages of Jemez Pueblo…

Santa Fe Plaza and Religious Repression

The Santa Fe Plaza is a traditional Spanish colonial style city square built in 1610 by the founders of Santa Fe under the orders of Don Pedro de Peralta, the second governor of New Mexico. Like other Spanish colonial plazas, the Santa Fe…

Taos Pueblo and the Beginning of a Revolution

Taos Pueblo’s remote location has instilled a fierce independence in its native people. The people of Taos tell that they arrived to the site following an eagle which dropped two feathers on opposite sides of two streams. This was an…

El Palacio de los Gobernadores

The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe was built in 1610 with the rest of the early town. It served as the governing seat of New Mexico from 1610 to 1886. The arrest of forty-seven Puebloan spiritual leaders by Governor Juan Francisco…