Pueblo Revolt of 1680

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In his article titled Spanish Missions, Cultural Conflict and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Henry Warner Bowden asserts that all the Pueblos – from Acoma to Pecos and from Taos to Isleta – united in their uprising against the Spanish presence north of El Paso. The rebellion resulted in the deaths of roughly 380 out of approximately 2,500 colonists, including 21 out of 33 resident friars. Bowden’s extensive research provides valuable insights into the various factors that influenced the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Additionally, other authors have also contributed to our understanding of this significant event in our nation’s history.

Multiple authors state that the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was a reaction to religious oppression enforced on the Pueblo Indians by Franciscan friars. Before exploring this revolt further, it is vital to introduce the pre-colonization way of life of the Pueblo people. To fully grasp this significant historical event, it is necessary to become acquainted with the identity and social structure of the Pueblo community.

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During the year 1540 A. D., the Pueblo Indians resided in New Mexico, dwelling in densely populated villages that featured spacious plazas. These settlements were strategically positioned near fertile valley bottoms to ensure their survival. The estimated population of these villages during this period ranged from 30 to 40 thousand individuals. The Pueblo Indians would congregate in kivas, which were underground spaces primarily utilized for religious rituals.

The Pueblo Indians had a strong devotion to their religious beliefs, dedicating much time to ceremonial rituals. Their communal society, marked by shared religious practices, material culture, and social organization, was highly important to them. However, different groups of Pueblo Indians in New Mexico varied in communication methods prior to the Spanish conquest in 1540 A.D.

The Pueblo society thrived as a prosperous community with a diverse linguistic landscape, speaking seven languages and having various dialects. Before the Spanish conquest, communication and shared beliefs were prevalent, fostering a harmonious environment.

Shifting to Spanish influence in New Mexico, Spain’s impact commenced in 1540 during an era of discovery and exploration lasting until 1596. Notable expeditions took place during this period, notably led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado from 1540 to 1542. However, it can be considered a trial run as the Spaniards sought profit from the New Mexico land but encountered challenges in finding lucrative opportunities.

Consequently, the Spanish were unsuccessful in their attempt to conquer New Mexico during that specific period. This expedition’s result brought about the understanding that “New Mexico was essentially neglected for nearly four decades.” In essence, the Spanish chose to temporarily cease their endeavors to subdue both New Mexico and the Pueblo Indians. Nevertheless, despite initially lacking enthusiasm for New Mexico in 1540, the Spaniards eventually came back and triumphantly conquered the entire region, establishing dominance over the villages formerly occupied by the Pueblo people.

In 1598, an expedition led by Don Jaun de Onate entered the Rio Grande Valley with a group of 400 people, including 10 Franciscan friars. The purpose was to establish a Spanish outpost for mining and missionary activities in the upper Rio Grande Valley. Initially, there were tensions between the Franciscan friars and the Pueblo Indians. However, these tensions had diminished by 1609 and the Pueblo Indians had embraced the ideals and religious practices of the Spanish colonists.

The main goal of the Spaniards and friars was to convert as many Pueblos as possible to Christianity. During the seventeenth century, around thirty Franciscans ministered to approximately 20,000 baptized Pueblos. As a result, about 20,000 Pueblo Indians successfully converted to Christianity.

Although there were still ten to twenty thousand unconverted Pueblo Indians remaining in 1609, overall relations seemed positive between the Pueblo Indians, Spaniards, and Franciscan friars. Unfortunately, this period of peace did not last long.

At first, the Pueblo Indians were receptive to adopting the religious teachings brought by the colonists. However, as time passed, tensions escalated between the two groups. The colonists started imposing limitations on the ceremonial beliefs and rituals of the Pueblos, resulting in conflicts. Notably, strict rules were enforced by friars regarding the indigenous practices of the Pueblos, including a complete prohibition on all religious ceremonies. Additionally, they took control over the sacred kivas that held significant value for the Pueblos.

The primary objective of the friars was to divert the attention of the Pueblos solely towards Christianity and eradicate their previous convictions. As a result, the occurrence of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 became a momentous incident in the history of the broader Southwest area. In every New Mexico Pueblo, there was a collective rebellion aimed at expelling both Spanish colonizers and Franciscan friars from their native land.

The Pueblo Indians committed a violent act, resulting in the death of 380 colonists and the destruction of their property, including Franciscan friars’ churches. To eliminate the impact of the friars’ teachings, the Pueblo Indians chose to cleanse themselves of Christianity by washing away its remnants in rivers close by.

This paragraph will provide an explanation for the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which was previously discussed. The rebellion by the Pueblo Indians occurred because they resisted giving up their traditional religious practices and adhering to the strict regulations imposed by the friars. Religion played a significant role in Indian cultures.

When the Pueblo Indians were compelled to abandon their customs and religious beliefs, they experienced strong anger and frustration. This ultimately resulted in a significant event in our nation’s history: the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 [1]. Henry Warner Bowden asserts that this rebellion occurred as a consequence of cultural conflict instigated by Spanish missions [1]. Furthermore, Mathew Liebmann, T.J. Ferguson, and Robert W Preucel emphasize that during this time period there were transformations in Pueblo settlement, architecture, and social dynamics [2].

D. 1680 to 1696,” Journal of Field Archaeology, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 49. [3]. Charles Wilson Hackett, “The Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico in 1680,” The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, no. 2 (Oct 1911): 95. [4]. Charles Wilson Hackett, 96. [5]. Henry Warner Bowden, 219. [6]. Henry Warner Bowden, 220. [7]. Charles Cutter, review of The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico, by Andrew L. Knaut. The Journal of American History, no. 4 (Mar 1996): 1551.

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Pueblo Revolt of 1680. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from


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