The Pueblo peoples had long been divided among themselves. The Spanish assumed that the Indians could never unite against the colonizers. In August 1680, they were proven wrong. Little is known about the life of Popé, who became the main organizer of an uprising that aimed to drive the Spanish from the colony and restore the Indians’ traditional autonomy. A religious leader born around 1630 in San Juan Pueblo in present-day New Mexico, Popé first appears in the historical record in 1675, when he was one of forty-seven Pueblo Indians arrested for “sorcery”—that is, practicing their traditional religion. Four of the prisoners were hanged, and the rest, including Popé, were brought to Santa Fe to be publicly whipped. After this humilia- tion, Popé returned home and began holding secret meetings in Pueblo communities. Under Popé’s leadership, New Mexico’s Indians joined in a coordinated uprising. Ironically, because the Pueblos spoke six different languages, Spanish became the revolt’s “lingua franca” (a common means of communication among persons of different linguis- tic backgrounds). Some 2,000 warriors destroyed iso- lated farms and missions, killing 400 colonists, includ- ing 21 Franciscan missionaries. They then surrounded Santa Fe. The Spanish resisted fiercely but eventually had no choice but to abandon the town. Most of the Spanish survivors, accompanied by several hundred Christian Indians, made their way south out of New Mexico. Within a few weeks, a century of colonization What were the chief features of the Spanish empire in America? 3 7 Acoma, the “sky city,” as it appeared in 1904.
R E C E N T H 1 food and to die. When they fell ill, which was very frequently because they are a delicate people unaccustomed to such work, the Spaniards did not believe them and pitilessly called them lazy dogs and kicked and beat them; and when illness was apparent they sent them home as useless . . . . They would go then, falling into the first stream and dying there in desperation; others would hold on longer but very few ever made it home. I sometimes came upon dead bodies on my way, and upon others who were gasping and moaning in their death agony, repeating “Hungry, hungry.” And this was the freedom, the good treatment and the Christianity the Indians received. About eight years passed under [Spanish rule] and this disorder had time to grow; no one gave it a thought and the multitude of people who originally lived on the island . . . was consumed at such a rate that in these eight years 90 per cent had perished. From here this sweeping plague went to San Juan, Jamaica, Cuba and the continent, spreading destruction over the whole hemisphere. Las Casas was the Dominican priest who condemned the treatment of Indians in the Spanish empire. His widely disseminated History of the Indies helped to establish the Black Legend of Spanish cruelty.
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- Fall '10
- Native Americans in the United States, Americas