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Pueblo

Contact with the Spanish

Initial contact with European populations came in the 16th cent., when Spaniards entered the Rio Grande area. The seven Zuñi towns were reported by the Franciscan Marcos de Niza to be the fabulous Seven Cities of Cibola, leading to the first intensive contacts—a Spanish exploration party under Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1540. Due to increasing pressure on the existing food supplies, the initially friendly Pueblo became hostile and then revolted; their resistance ended in a mass execution of Native Americans by Coronado. In 1598 Juan de Oñate began full-scale missionary work and moved the provincial headquarters of the Spanish colonial government to Santa Fe. By 1630, 60,000 Pueblo had been converted to Christianity, and 90 villages had chapels, according to Father de Benavides.

Determined to put an end to the suffering caused by their Spanish oppressors, the Pueblo staged a successful revolt in 1680. Popé, a medicine man, led a band of Pueblo who killed 380 settlers and 31 missionaries and forced the remaining Spaniards to retreat to El Paso. However, the Pueblo lost 347 of their number in one attack on Santa Fe. Fearing Spanish reprisal, villages were abandoned for better fortified sites. In 1692 De Vargas, with the cooperation of some Pueblo leaders, reconquered the Pueblo in New Mexico. The Western Pueblo, however, including the Hopi, remained independent.

The Pueblo have the oldest settlements N of Mexico, dating back 700 years for the still-occupied Hopi, Zuñi, and Acoma pueblos. The Europeans who settled in the Southwest adopted the adobe structures and compact village plans of the Pueblo. The Pueblo, for their part, adopted many domestic animals and assorted crafts from the Old World, including blacksmithing and woodworking.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: North American indigenous peoples


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