New Mexico: Native Americans and the Spanish
Native Americans and the Spanish
Use of the land and minerals of New Mexico goes back to the prehistoric time of the early cultures in the Southwest that long preceded the flourishing sedentary civilization of the Pueblos that the Spanish found along the Rio Grande and its tributaries. Many of the Native American pueblos exist today much as they were in the 13th cent. Word of the pueblos reached the Spanish through Cabeza de Vaca, who may have wandered across S New Mexico between 1528 and 1536; they were enthusiastically identified by Fray Marcos de Niza as the fabulously rich Seven Cities of Cibola.
A full-scale expedition (1540–42) to find the cities was dispatched from New Spain, under the leadership of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. The treatment of the Pueblo people by Coronado and his men led to the long-standing hostility between the Native Americans and the Spanish and slowed Spanish conquest. The first regular colony at San Juan was founded by Juan de Oñate in 1598. The Native Americans of Acoma revolted against the Spanish encroachment and were severely suppressed.
In 1609 Pedro de Peralta was made governor of the “Kingdom and Provinces of New Mexico,” and a year later he founded his capital at Santa Fe. The little colony did not prosper greatly, although some of the missions flourished and haciendas were founded. The subjection of Native Americans to forced labor and attempts by missionaries to convert them resulted in violent revolt by the Apache in 1676 and the Pueblo in 1680. These uprisings drove the Spanish entirely out of New Mexico.
The Spanish did not return until the campaign of Diego de Vargas Zapata reestablished their control in 1692. In the 18th cent. the development of ranching and of some farming and mining was more thorough, laying the foundations for the Spanish culture in New Mexico that still persists. Over one third of the population today is of Hispanic origin (and few are recent immigrants from Mexico) and roughly the same percentage speak Spanish fluently.
When Mexico achieved its independence from Spain in 1821, New Mexico became a province of Mexico, and trade was opened with the United States. By the following year the Santa Fe Trail was being traveled by the wagon trains of American traders. In 1841 a group of Texans embarked on an expedition to assert Texan claims to part of New Mexico and were captured.
Sections in this article:
- Modern New Mexico
- The Anglo Influence
- Native Americans and the Spanish
- Government and Higher Education
- Facts and Figures
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