Pueblo Revolt 1680

What was the Pueblo Revolt?

Pueblo Revolt was an uprising of the Pueblo people. It took place in the 17th century in the present-day New Mexico area. At the time, New Mexico was under the control of Spanish colonists.

Background of the Pueblo Revolt

The Spanish colonists had started arriving in the region during the 16th century. From 1540 onwards, the Spanish colonists sent a number of expeditions to subdue the Pueblo people, plunder their crops and other properties, and subjugate them to forced labor.

With intermittent breaks, this continued into the 17th century. During the 17th century, the Spanish also tried to forcefully convert Pueblos to Catholicism. Despite their long-standing presence, the Pueblo didn’t like the Spanish and the relations between the two were not friendly.

Events Leading to the Revolt

During the 1670s, the New Mexico region was hit with a drought. The drought caused famine in the area, with thousands of Pueblos and Spanish colonists alike forced to starve. The Spanish colonial administrators blamed the Pueblo medicine men for the famine.

They accused the medicine men of practicing sorcery which had caused the drought. Backed with these accusations, the Spanish colonial officers arrested a number of Pueblo medicine men. In all, 47 medicine men were arrested. Of these, 3 were hanged. Before any other could be hanged, Pueblos gathered in large numbers in Spanish headquarters, Santa Fe, and forced the colonists to release the others.

Preparations for the Revolt

One of the freed medicine men was Pope. After being freed, Pope started visiting the Pueblo villages and sought their support for a revolt against the Spanish. At the time, there were around 46 Pueblo towns in the area. Their combined population greatly outnumbered the Spanish colonists who were around 2400 in total. Pope was able to garner the support of many of the Pueblo towns.

Knotted Cords

Once Pope had the support of enough Pueblo towns, he devised a way of communicating the date of the revolt. This was so that all towns may revolt on the same day. He created knotted cords and sent them to all the towns. The towns would untie a knot every day.

When the last knot was to be untied, that would be the day for the revolt and attack. The Spanish were alerted of this plan and may have made preparations against it. But Pope was informed and he decided to launch the revolt a day earlier.

The Revolt and the Result

On August 10, 1680, a large number of Pueblos rose up against the Spanish. The Spanish settlements were looted and Santa Fe was besieged where a large number of Spanish colonists and settlers had taken refuge. After a few days of siege, the Spanish were forced to come out and fight the Pueblos.

They inflicted heavy losses on the Pueblos and then retreated. In all, around 2000 Spanish settlers and colonists left New Mexico for good as a result of the revolt. The Spanish also suffered the death of some 400 men, women and children.

Learn More about the Pueblo Revolt at Wikipedia