August 10, 2015, marked the 335th anniversary of the Pueblo Indian uprising, during which they expelled the Spanish usurpers and tormentors from New Mexico. Modern Pueblo Indians call August 10 Independence Day. While the Spaniards returned and re-subjugated the Puebloans 12 years later, they were able to re-establish and keep their religion and culture, which have endured to this day. No other Native American uprising as successful as the Pueblo Revolt happened before or after.
The Pueblo peoples live in the harsh climate of Arizona and New Mexico, establishing permanent apartment-like dwellings made of stone and adobe. They are descendants of the Anasazi people who have lived there for more than 1,000 years.
They were built in terraced stories with access through a trap door on the roof to protect them from enemies. Agriculturally based, these farmers grew corn, cotton, and melons in irrigated fields near river bottoms.
The Pueblo tribes also hunted deer, antelope, and rabbits and occasionally ventured on large hunting parties in search of buffalo.
Each village was self-governing, run by a chief. The Pueblo were known for their outstanding skills in making pottery and baskets and also for using native materials to weave cloth and clothing. The Spanish were the first Europeans to encounter the Pueblo in the 16th century. The Pueblo tried to resist Spanish encroachment on their territory, but were unsuccessful. In 1598, the Spanish began establishing missions in Pueblo villages in order to convert them to Christianity.
Although several thousand did convert, Pueblos were able to keep their traditional culture intact while living under Spanish rule and overthrew Spanish control in 1680. In 1692, the Spanish reconquered the tribe.
Tiguex War Pueblo Revolt of 1680 Tonita Pena (Tonita Vigil) – Painter, San Ildefonso Peublo (1895-1949)
Famous Pueblo Indians
The 19 pueblo tribes never signed treaties, and with that came decades of a dual existence. On one hand, they didn’t fit the mold the government had established for native people. Still, they were Indian enough to be subjected to policies that called for them to trade in their native languages and send their children to boarding school.
For the first time, the pueblos have come together to offer their own historical perspective on the effects of 100 years of state and federal policy as part of an exhibit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.
Mesa Verde National Park, in Colorado’s southwest corner, offers visitors a look at the life of the Ancestral Pueblo people. The park is home to 600 cliff dwellings, where Ancestral Puebloans lived for more than 700 years. Chaco’s main draw is Pueblo Bonito, one of the most extensively excavated and studied sites in North America. Center of the Chacoan world and occupied from the mid-800s to 1200s, it was a four-story masonry “great house” with more than 600 rooms and 40 kivas.
The ancient pueblo of Acoma is aptly nicknamed. Known as the Sky City, it commands the most exotic location of any inhabited place in the United States — the top of a 370-foot-high mesa in New Mexico, a natural citadel of golden rock, an island in the sky. It’s also amazingly well-disguised.
The family of a deaf Laguna Pueblo woman was forced to hold two burial ceremonies for her because of a state oversight.
Alicia Waseta, 21, was dragged to death last September as she was crossing a street near the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe, from where she had recently graduated.