A Puebloan Explaining the Reasons for the Pueblo Revolt

statue of Pope
statue of Pope | Source

Before the pueblo communities erupted to a violent uprising that have finally reclaimed a sense of dignity and freedom from the bondage of Spanish rule, us Puebloans were subjugated to such an extent that it did not only captured our physical body but have enslaved both our minds and souls as well. This imposed bondage on our people in our own home could not be tolerated forever, sometime, somewhere, something has to give in.

Before the successful rise of our people and the claim to immortality of our Popyn, we have lived in relative adversity. The arrival of the Spanish colonizers in our land has initially caused death to our people. They brought with them diseases unknown to us and something that even our elders and shamans could not cure. It killed most of our people and those who are fortunate enough to survive and fled to neighboring villages brought with them the disease that caused further havoc to the receiving pueblo communities[i]. They were also a group of greedy people blinded by their desires for material wealth. They thought that they would find gold in our land. They displaced many families and forced them out of their pueblos so that their soldiers could dig for treasures while their priests tried to thrust us with their religious belief at the same time.[ii]

In 1591, an evil and greedy Spanish family headed by the patriarch—Don Juan de Oñate settled in our land and established his own town and called it San Juan. He ordered our people to leave their lands and settle to nearby pueblos as his troops searched for treasures. The forced displacement was not taken well by our people and caused a rebellion at the pueblo town of Acoma. Despite their advanced weaponry, their soldiers were weak. Our warriors threw them in the side of cliffs as if they were nothing but boulders[iii].

Just as our warriors were about to claim victory, Spanish reinforcement arrived and more fighting ensued. This time they brought with them more weaponry and the sheer numbers of our brave warriors were no match for their weapons of death. More than a thousand of our brave warriors lost their life trying to fight back these white monsters. To further intimidate our people, those who did not perish during the rebellion were tried and convicted. The men’s hand’s and feet were cut-off as punishment while our women were forced to slavery[iv].

Besides death and destruction, the Spanish conquistadors have also thought of themselves as people above our own just because they do not understand our ways and our culture. They were so barbaric in fact that they see themselves as people above us—that their ways are better than our ways; that our technology is inferior to what they have. They did not understand how we see the world in a different light.

With the Spanish settlers able to force their way in our land and occupied the Rio Grande Valley, most if not all, Pueblos were under the Spanish encomienda system and repartimiento. Under these laws, our people were expected to pay annual taxes in the form of produce (such as corn and other root crops) and other products while at the same time demands forced labor to build their communities’ infrastructures such as their massive churches, houses, roads, and bridges[v].

Despite their efforts to change our ways, our people remained subversive and retained practicing our native beliefs and religion. The conquistadors would regularly pester our pueblos and ransack our worship centers and destroy our religious artifacts. They believed that their efforts would convert our people to Christianity but these harassments only put our pueblo leaders to cling on to our native beliefs more tenaciously and took their practices in secrecy[vi].

By 1770, a long drought devastated our land. There was famine and starvation as food supply was not enough to sustain the growing population. Our people though that we have offended our Gods by accepting the new religion that the conquistadors forced us. It was this drought that have gave rise to one of our brave people—Popyn[vii].

Popyn or Popé was born on 1630 in Tewa village of Oke Owinge. He grew up following native tradition as it was embedded to the daily lives of the people.As Popyn matured to a young man, his rank moved from serving as an assistant to their pueblo’s tribal war captain to become war captain himself as appointed by the pueblo elders. His rank to leadership opened him to the suffering of his people and other pueblonans. As missionaries closed-in on them, they were told not to practice their traditional belief because they were sinful because of its idolatrous nature. Because of this, Popyn along with 46 other pueblo leaders were arrested for sorcery in 1675 because the missionaries were not able to meet their quota of Christian converts. Of the 47 leaders, four were hanged while the others were whipped in public including Popyn. This and the fact that the imposed encomienda system and repartimiento were devastating our people; Popyn took it upon himself to gather other pueblo leaders and expel the Spaniards out of our land once and for all. In August of 1680, while the priest Juan Baptisto Pio was saying his mass, our people launched their attack. As the revolt spread across other pueblos, the Spanish settlers took refuge in Santa Fe. Despite their superior firepower, the cooperative efforts of Puelonans finally won over. Our warriors were successfully able to block the water source that supplies the Spanish fort. This drove out the Spanish on their stronghold to a waiting ambush. On August 21 1680, our brave warriors lead by Popyn successfully defeated the white monsters that have enslaved our people[viii].



Endnotes

[i] "Native Americans." Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History. Ed. Mary Kupiec Cayton and Peter W. Williams. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

[ii] "Popé." Colonial America Reference Library. Ed. Peggy Saari and Julie L. Carnagie. Vol. 4: Biographies: Volume 2. Detroit: UXL, 2000. 273-277. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] ibid.

[v] "Popé." Colonial America Reference Library. Ed. Peggy Saari and Julie L. Carnagie. Vol. 4: Biographies: Volume 2. Detroit: UXL, 2000. 273-277. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"Native Americans." Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History. Ed. Mary Kupiec Cayton and Peter W. Williams. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

[vi]"Popé (1630 - 1690)." Encyclopedia of North American Indians, Houghton Mifflin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Credo Reference. Web. 12 October 2010.

[vii] "Popé." Colonial America Reference Library. Ed. Peggy Saari and Julie L. Carnagie. Vol. 4: Biographies: Volume 2. Detroit: UXL, 2000. 273-277. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

"Native Americans." Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History. Ed. Mary Kupiec Cayton and Peter W. Williams. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. Gale U.S. History In Context. Web. 12 Oct. 2010.

[viii]"Popé (1630 - 1690)." Encyclopedia of North American Indians, Houghton Mifflin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996. Credo Reference. Web. 12 October 2010.

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lee custodio 5 years ago Author

@jeremytorres : thanks. :)


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jeremytorres 5 years ago

Great hub.


lee custodio profile image

lee custodio 5 years ago Author

thank you asmaiftikhar, much appreciated.


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asmaiftikhar 5 years ago from Pakistan

A very very informative hub dear keep it up.aaaaaaaand i must give you voted up!

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