The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest

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Overview

With the conquest of New Mexico in 1598, Spanish governors, soldiers, and missionaries began their brutal subjugation of the Pueblo Indians in what is today the Southwestern United States. This oppression continued for decades, until, in the summer of 1680, led by a visionary shaman named Pope, the Puebloans revolted. Before then the many different Pueblo villages had never acted in concert (and never would again). Now, in total secrecy they coordinated an attack, killing 401 settlers and soldiers and routing the...
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The Pueblo Revolt: The Secret Rebellion That Drove the Spaniards Out of the Southwest

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Overview

With the conquest of New Mexico in 1598, Spanish governors, soldiers, and missionaries began their brutal subjugation of the Pueblo Indians in what is today the Southwestern United States. This oppression continued for decades, until, in the summer of 1680, led by a visionary shaman named Pope, the Puebloans revolted. Before then the many different Pueblo villages had never acted in concert (and never would again). Now, in total secrecy they coordinated an attack, killing 401 settlers and soldiers and routing the rulers in Santa Fe. Every Spaniard was driven from the Pueblo homeland, the only time in North American history that conquering Europeans were thoroughly expelled from Indian territory. Yet today, more than three centuries later, crucial questions about the Pueblo Revolt remain unanswered. How did Pope succeed in his brilliant plot? And what happened in the Pueblo world between 1680 and 1692, when a new Spanish force reconquered the Pueblo peoples with relative ease?

David Roberts set out to try to answer these questions and to bring this remarkable historical episode to life. He visited Pueblo villages, talked with Native American and Anglo historians, combed through archives, discovered abandoned backcountry ruins, sought out the vivid rock art panels carved and painted by Puebloans contemporary with the events, and pondered the existence of centuries-old Spanish documents never seen by Anglos. As he explores the mystery of how the fiercely independent Pueblo villages brilliantly coordinated their effective attack - and how the Spanish successfully exploited Indian disunity to return to power - Roberts blends research and storytelling in an enlightening and spellbinding narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1598, Spain established a colony in what is today New Mexico; roughly 80 years later, more than 75% of the indigenous population was dead. A Pueblo shaman named Pop led survivors in a violent uprising in 1680 that resulted in a decade and a half of independence before the Spanish reasserted dominion over the territory. Delving into the few primary sources available, journalist Roberts (Four Against the Arctic, etc.) tries to set the record straight on this little-known, sometimes fancifully remembered event. Most notably, he corrects for the bias in surviving Spanish documents by adopting a more empathetic stance toward the Pueblo. Yet this project is hampered by the intense secrecy of modern Pueblo, which forces Roberts to incorporate into his account the struggle to find people willing to share their oral history with him. Gaining access to sacred sites and settlement ruins proves difficult, but vivid descriptions of the sites he did visit add a welcome immediacy to the tale. Roberts's enthusiastic descriptions of Pueblo art, which played a crucial role in the religious conflict behind the rebellion, would have benefited from the inclusion of photographs. For the most part, however, this chronicle admirably illuminates the historical record while highlighting the problems inherent in re-creating history from fragmentary evidence. Maps. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After 80 years of colonial oppression, the shaman Pop tapped Puebloan hatred toward Spanish rule and led the only successful Native American revolt in America. Driving all Spaniards from New Mexico in 1680, Puebloans enjoyed 12 years of independence before the Spaniards brutally reconquered them. In good storytelling fashion, journalist Roberts (In Search of the Old Ones) brings the relatively unknown history of the revolt to non-Puebloans. Roberts does not write an objective history but what he calls an "emphatic witness to one of the great triumphs and tragedies of American history." Having difficulty in accessing Puebloan oral history because of Puebloan reticence to discuss the revolt with outsiders, Roberts carefully relies upon Spanish sources, rock art, and interpretations of the Kachina cult to narrate the history of the revolt and Puebloan freedom. Readers will also find the informative annotated bibliography useful in expanding their understanding of Native American history and life in the American Southwest. Recommended for public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.]-Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State Coll. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A close look at one of the most bloody, mysterious episodes in the history of what's now the Southwest. On a single August day in 1680, Pueblo Indian nations throughout New Mexico and into present-day Arizona rebelled against their Spanish rulers, coordinating their attacks over hundreds of miles with astonishing precision. "No one in New Mexico was hated more bitterly than its thirty-three Franciscan friars," writes historian/adventurer Roberts (Four Against the Arctic, 2003, etc.), "and so the cruelest executions were reserved for them." Other Spaniards, soldiers and settlers, didn't have it much better, and, after having waited out a siege at Santa Fe, they withdrew from northern New Mexico. The Spanish governor swore that he would avenge the deaths of the 380 Spanish citizens who had fallen to the Pueblos, which he called "a lamentable tragedy, such as has never before happened in the world." His bosses were not so convinced of his abilities; they relieved the governor of his post, and the Spanish stayed away for a dozen years until embarking on a bloody campaign of reconquest. Nobody much talks about the events of 1680 these days, Roberts allows-strangely, given how transformative they were. Indeed, he adds, Indian peoples do not discuss them, at least not in public, which puzzles Roberts. "If the Jemez elders still knew exactly what had happened in, say, a.d. 1270, as their people made their way from the north and west to their present heartland, why might they not retain a comparably rich story of what had happened in 1680?" Why, indeed, and Roberts's efforts to resolve that particular mystery make up the best part of a sometimes plodding, sometimes self-indulgent narrative, whichmixes archaeology, history, and anthropology into a kind of you-are-there travelogue. Certainly enticing stuff for buffs of things southwestern, but more so to readers with an eye to the ironies and paradoxes of history. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743255165
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author


David Roberts is the author of seventeen books on mountaineering, adventure, and the history of the American Southwest. His essays and articles have appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, and The Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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Table of Contents

1 The knotted cord 9
2 The coming of the Kachinas 29
3 Onate 70
4 Troublous times 98
5 Pope's apotheosis 127
6 The bloodless reconquest 169
7 Diaspora 211
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