Pueblo Revolt

Pueblo Revolt

Also known as Popé’s Rebellion, the Pueblo Revolt took place in 1680 and freed the Pueblo Indians of Spanish control for 12 years until the Spanish reconquered the area in 1692. The revolt was organized by the medicine man Popé from the Tewa Pueblo.

The revolt began on August 10, 1680, and by August 21 the Pueblo Indians had captured Santa Fe and Popé had made himself the new ruler. Unfortunately for the Pueblos, Popé proved to be as harsh a ruler as the Spanish and when he died in 1688, the Pueblos were in a constant state of civil war, which the Spanish used to their advantage.

The Spanish return to the area started in 1689 with the capture of Zia Pueblo and ended with the capture of Santa Fe in 1692. Over the next four years, the Spanish consolidated their hold on the Pueblos, who again submitted to Spanish rule.

In the early 1670s, the Pueblo Indians formed an alliance with their hereditary enemies the Apache against the Spanish in the American Southwest. They then conducted raids against the Spanish that eventually forced them to stop sending supply convoys to their frontier outposts.

Then in 1672, the Spanish governor arrested 47 lesser Pueblo chiefs, hanging three. One of the chiefs arrested was Popé, who after several years in prison was released and went into hiding in Taos. From there he started to organize a rebellion in secret.

He had originally targeted August 13, 1680, for the start of the rebellion but, concerned that the Spanish had found out about the rebellion, he moved the date up to August 10. Even though the Spanish had found out about the rebellion, the Pueblos were still able to gain an element of surprise.

Attacks were launched on the three major missions (Taos, Pecos, and Acoma) as well as the lesser missions and the haciendas (large ranches), destroying them and killing the inhabitants. Popé and his army moved against Santa Fe on August 15, killing settlers and missionaries as they went.

The garrison of 50 men was able to hold out for four days with the help of the cannon they had. Santa Fe was captured on August 21 with Popé making himself the new ruler of the area. Spanish governor Antonio de Oterrmin and 2,500 settlers fled down the river in order to escape the Pueblo Indians.

Unfortunately for the Pueblos, Popé proved himself to be no better a ruler than the Spanish. He taxed and abused his people for the next eight years until he died in 1688. Even with Popé’s death the Pueblos continued in a state of chaos and civil war that only opened the way for the Spanish to return.

The Spanish started their reconquest of the Pueblos with the capture of Zia Pueblo in 1689. Then in 1692, governor Don Diego de Vargas retook Santa Fe. Over the next four years, the Spanish put all the Pueblos back under their rule.