Friday, March 30, 2012

Documented History of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico


commencing in 1598, and running up to the present time. Here we should be entitled to find, of course, ample and detailed documentary evidence. Two unfortunate occurrences, however, have contributed to destroy the records of the territory of New Mexico.
In the month of August, 1680, when the pueblo Indians rose in successful revolt against the Spanish rule, and captured the "villa" of Santa Fé, they brought the archives, ecclesiastical and civil, into the plaza, and made a bonfire of the entire pile. This was an act of barbarous warfare. But few papers escaped the general destruction; these were saved by Governor Don Antonio de Otermin, and sent to El Paso del Norte, where they are still supposed to remain. We are, therefore, as far as the period of 1598-1680 is concerned, almost exclusively reduced to general works like the "Teatro Mexicano" of Fray Augustin de Vetancurt, and to the collections of documents published at Mexico and at Madrid. That, nevertheless, some documents were saved, and subsequently carried back to Santa Fé, is proved by the fact that Mr. Louis Felsenthal, of this city, has recovered one, a copy of which it is hoped will appear in the Journal of the Institute in time.  Pueblo Indian Pictures Here
Subsequent to the return of the Spaniards, the archives ofp. 119 Santa Fé were kept in good order by its administrators, the last revision thereof being made by Governor Donaciano Vigil. In 1870, however, the man who then acted as Governor of the Territory, although otherwise of irreproachable character, permitted an act of vandalism almost without its parallel. The archives had accumulated in the palace to a vast extent: the original good order in which they were kept had been totally neglected during and since the war of secession; there was not even a custodian for them. So the head of the executive of this territory suffered its archives to be sold as waste paper, even sometimes used as kindling in the offices. Of the entire carefully nursed documentary treasures, the accumulation of 190 years, the Hon. Samuel Ellison, of this city (notwithstanding his feeble health), has been able to register about fifty bundles (legajos), whereas wagon-loads were scattered or sold for wrapping.
Many of the intelligent inhabitants attempted to save what they could, and there are some who succeeded to a limited extent; but of what yet remained in the palace, reduced to a sufficiently small bulk as not to be "in the way" any longer, even the valuable journals of Otermin and Vargas were considerably reduced through further decay.
This has been, in times of profound peace and in the nineteenth century, the fate of the archives of New Mexico.
Ever since, the legislature of the territory has been, in fact, utterly neglectful of its public documents. Each and every reminder in the shape of a petition has been disregarded, and only Governor L. Wallace has at last succeeded in having them overhauled. Hon. W. G. Ritch effected their removal to a suitable place, and it is to the acts of these gentlemen, and to the labor of love of Mr. Ellison, that we owe the preservation of what now remains.
What little documentary evidence has, therefore, been leftp. 120 at my disposal, contains, as might be supposed, meagre information concerning the pueblo of Pecos. The older church annals I have not been able to find, for those at the Plaza de Pecos date back only to 1862. Whither they have gone I am unable to tell, except that they are not at Santa Fé.
About the year 1628, through the action of Fray Francisco de Apodaca,  then Commissary-General of the Franciscan order in Mexico, religious life in this territory obtained a new impulse. Until then the work performed had been almost exclusively missionary work; the priests had (and still have) enormous districts to visit. Thus: that of the first priest of Pecos embraced from N. to S. a country of over 60 miles long, and 30 to 50 wide from E. to W. However, after Fray Gerónimo de Zarate Salmeron had addressed to his superior at Mexico his remarkable report in the year 1626, a new life began. It is therefore after 1629 that the large church at Pecos was erected, but I am as yet unable to give the exact dates. This church and the "convent" were both built by Indians, whom the fathers had taught to square timbers, to ornament them with simple friezes and scroll-work, and to make adobe in the manner now practised, namely, mixing straw with the clay and moulding it in boxes. They were also taught to grow wheat and oats, and their flocks increased. In addition to being a horticultural people they became herders, and the pueblo was prosperous. Its church was renowned as the finest in New Mexico. Whereas Santa Fé, in 1667, had butp. 121 250 inhabitants, Pecos, as late as 1680, sheltered 2,000 Indians.
Still, during this very time of comparative prosperity, a storm was brewing in New Mexico, from whose effects its sedentary Indians never recovered. This was the great rebellion of 1680. The Indians of Pecos claim to have remained neutral during that bloody massacre, and I am inclined to believe their statements. Nevertheless, it is a positive fact that, on the 10th of August of the aforesaid year, their priest, Fray Fernando de Velasco, was murdered and their church sacked. By whom, then, was it done? The reply is intimated by the place where the great bell was found, and by the events intervening between 1680 and 1692, when Diego de Vargas recaptured Santa Fé. It will be remembered that the bell was left on the slope of the high mesa towards the S.W., in the rocky and desolate gorge descending towards the pueblo San Cristóbal, the old home of the Tanos tribe. Father José Amanda Niel writes, about twenty-five or thirty years after the rebellion, that the Tanos secured the greatest part of the booty, among which were bells (campanas).That this bell was not carried to the high mesa by the Pecos I believe I have proved; its proximity to the Tanos village, and its actual position in the cañada leading towards the latter, shows that it was either to be carried down to it or carried up from it. If it is (as curp. 122rent report has it) the bell of Pecos, then it was a trophy which the Tanos secured when they, on the 10th of August, 1680, committed the atrocities at the pueblo of Pecos; and this would make it extremely probable, also, that the slaughter of Father Velasco was accompanied by that partial destruction of the buildings A and B, which I have described, and which appears to have been partly repaired by means of material taken from the church, and of adobe containing wheat-straw. This is rendered more likely by the events subsequent to the driving out of the Spaniards, and it does not appear that the Pecos Indians took any part even in their expulsion.
After the victorious aborigines had returned from their pursuit of Otermin, dissensions arose among them, and intertribal warfare, in conformity with their pristine condition, set in. The Pecos, aided by the Queres, made a violent onslaught on the Tanos, compelling them to abandon San Cristóbal and San Lázaro. This looks very much like an act of retaliation. During that time the Spaniards were not idle. In 1682, Governor Otermin penetrated as far as Cochiti,  but appears to have taken no notice of Pecos. In 1689, however, Don Domingo Gironza Petroz de Cruzate made a successful raid into New Mexico, in which raid the warriors of Pecos assisted him against the other tribes. In reward of their services he, on the 25th of September, 1689, after his return to El Paso del Norte, executed there the document a copy of which is hereto appended, and for which I am indebted to the kindness of my friend David J. Miller, Esq., chief clerk of the Surveyor General's Office at Santa Fé. It is a grant to the tribe of Pecos of all the lands one league north, south, east, and west from their pueblo ("una legua en cuadro"), therep. 123fore four square leagues, or 18,763-33/100 acres, to be therefore their joint and common property. When, therefore, in the afternoon of the 17th of October, 1692, Diego de Vargas Zapata, having recaptured Santa Fé from the Tanos who then held its ruins, moved upon Pecos, he was received by the whole tribe with demonstrations of joy  and the "capitan de la guerra" of the pueblo afterwards assisted him in subduing a second outbreak in 1694.
The result for the pueblos of the great revolt in New Mexico was a gradual diminution in the numbers of their inhabitants. It was the beginning of decline. The Tanos had been in some places nearly exterminated, and all the others more or less weakened. The distant Moqui, far off in Arizona, were the sole gainers by the occurrence, receiving accessions from fugitives of New Mexico. But it would be incorrect to attribute this weakening of the pueblos during that time to the warfare with the Spaniards, or to the latter's retaliatory measures after final triumph. Vargas was energetic in action, but not cruel. A few of those who had committed peculiar atrocities were executed, but the remnants of the pueblos were reestablished in their franchises and privileges as autonomous communities. It is the intertribal warfare, which commenced again as soon as the aborigines were left to themselves, and drouth accompanying the bitter and bloody feuds, which destroyed the pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley. The Pecos, isolated and therefore less exposed, suffered proportionatelyp. 124 less; still, their time was come also, though in a different way.
I have already stated that, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Utes introduced near the pueblo of Taos another branch of the great Shoshone stock,—the Comanches. This tribe soon expelled the Apaches,who  had not been exceedingly troublesome to the pueblos, and, a vigorous northern stock, became that fearful scourge of all the surrounding settlements, which they have continued to be for 150 years. Their efforts were mainly directed against the pueblo of Pecos, as the most south-easterly village exposed to their attacks. On one occasion the Comanches slaughtered all the "young men" of Pecos but one,—a blow from which the tribe never recovered. Thus, when the Indians of the Rio Grande rose in arms against the Mexicans in 1837, as has been so ably described by Mr. D. J. Miller,the Pecos did not take any part, for there were only eighteen adults left, huddled together in the northern wing of the huge building A, and watching the sacred embers in the face of slow, inevitable destruction.
Then, in the following year, 1838, an event took place which, simple and natural as it is, still illustrates forcibly the powerful link which the bond of language creates between distant Indian communities. The pueblos of Pecos and Jemez had been almost without intercourse for centuries; but in the year 1838, says Mariano Ruiz, the principal men of Jemez appeared in person on the site of Pecos and held a talk with its occupants. They had heard of the weakness of their brethren, of their forlorn condition, and now came to offer them a newp. 125 home within the walls of their own pueblo. The Pecos took the proposal under consideration, but were loth to leave the home where they had lived for so many centuries. In the following year "mountain fever" broke out among them, and only five adults remained alive. These, by joint indentures, sold the majority of the lands granted to them in 1689 by Cruzate. Another portion was left to Ruiz as "son of the tribe." In 1840 these five men, named respectively Antonio (gobernador, and still living at Jemez), Gregorio, Goya, Juan Domingo, and Francisco, appeared before Don Manuel Armijo, then Mexican governor of the territory, and declared to him their intention to abandon their home and to seek refuge among their kindred at Jemez. Soon after, the gobernador, thecapitan de la guerra and the cacique of Jemez, with several other Indians of that tribe, appeared at Pecos. The sacred embers disappeared, tradition being, according to the Hon. W. G. Ritch, Secretary of the Territory, that they were returned to Montezuma. The remnants of the tribe moved on with their chattels, and guided by their friends, to Jemez, where, in a few months, I hope to visit "the last of the Pecos."