Spanish New Mexico
Spanish conquerors moved north of the Rio Grande in 1598 hoping to find gold and silver. Instead they found modest towns where Native peoples lived in adobe houses and practiced irrigation agriculture. Spain decided to support a colony at Santa Fe to convert Indians to Catholicism and to keep other European powers out of the region. Tewa, Zuni, Hopi, and other groups banded together to develop a new identity as "Pueblo peoples." Although many adopted Spanish as a second language, they came together to resist Spanish demands for labor and to defend their traditional religious practices.
Pecos Mission Church
This architectural bracket, or corbel, adorned the mission church at Pecos, New Mexico, established by Spanish Franciscans to convert Pueblo peoples in 1621. The church was rebuilt after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Like many other Native groups, Pueblo peoples resisted efforts to suppress their familiar spiritual beliefs and practices. Yet many Native Americans did find meaning in new Christian teachings. Across the continent, people sometimes joined new and old religious elements to create hybrid beliefs.
Pueblo potters forced to work at Spanish missions used their traditional materials and techniques to make European forms such as candlesticks and soup bowls. They also made traditional bowls and storage jars. This pottery, from the Zuni Hawikuh mission, represents this cultural interaction.
The Pueblo Revolt
In 1680 an Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo man named Po’pay led one of the first great revitalization movements created by Native peoples to reclaim their lands and way of life. The successful revolt united people of about twenty-four settlements, speaking six different languages, and spread out over a distance of four hundred miles. Embattled Spanish settlers retreated over three hundred miles south to El Paso. When Spanish forces reconquered the territory in 1692, they agreed to end a forced labor system and allow some Native forms of worship. In the 1700s Pueblo and Spanish people would unite against common enemies.