CHAPTER VI: The Pueblo Indians—Concluded
History of Pueblo Indians.—New Religion forced upon them.—Attempts at Rebellion in 1640 and 1650.—Their Failure.—First general Conspiracy.—Rebellion of 1680.—How organized.—Popé.—His Plans.—Time of Rising.—Plot discovered.—Indians take up Arms.—Santa Fé besieged.—Spaniards retreat.—Country reconquered.—Population.—Their Buildings.—Estufa.—Government.—Officers.—Confirmation of Governor.—Council of Wise Men.—The Cachina.—How the Land is held.—Weapons.—Dress.—Arts.—Food.—Not Citizens.—Sacred Fire.—The Serpent.—Tradition of the Eagle.—Green Corn Dance.—Vocabulary of Words.
The history of the Pueblo Indians presents many points of interest, and as the subject is one with which the readers of our country are almost entirely unacquainted, I will briefly narrate a few of the leading incidents connected with their early intercourse with the Spaniards. These facts are drawn from official documents, and may be relied upon as correct.
When the Spaniards first came to the country and made permanent settlements, now more than two centuries and a half ago, they found these Indians numerous and powerful, living peaceful and happly lives in their villages, and supplied with the comforts and necessaries of life. The Europeans overran and took possession of their mountains and valleys, and reduced the inhabitants from independence to a state of servitude; the pleasures of their simple and primitive life were at an end, and they saw themselves, in a few years, "the hewers of wood
They made several attempts at rebellion before they met with success, their plans being either discovered by the watchful care of the Spaniards, or divulged by traitors in their own ranks. The first effort of the kind was about the year 1640, while Governor Arguello was at the head of affairs in the province. The immediate cause of this attempted outbreak was the whipping and hanging of forty Indians, who refused to give up their ancient religious worship and become good Catholics. The conspiracy was discovered and nipped in the bud. In the year 1650, while General Concha was governor, they made a second attempt of the kind, which likewise proved unsuccessful. This was placed on foot by the leading men of the pueblos of Ysleta, Alameda, San Felipe, Cochiti, and Jemez. The time fixed upon for the rising was the Thursday night of Passion Week. The Indians were to rise while the Spaniards were in the churches engaged in religious exercises, and fall upon them by surprise, when all were to be massacred or driven from the country. A party had been sent out to
The first rebellion which met with even partial success was that which broke out in the year 1680, while Don Antonio de Otermin was governor and captain-general. In this attempt they were fully successful for a time, and not only succeeded in driving the Spaniards from the country, but maintained their independence for twelve years, in opposition to all the force the government could send against them. The conspiracy was placed on foot in the first place by the Taos Indians, who made an effort to unite all the pueblos in a common cause. The method of communicating information of
A second attempt was made the same year, soon afterward, which led to successful results. The leading spirits in this enterprise were Popé—by some said to have been a native of the pueblo of Taos, and by others a native of San Juan—and Catiti, a Queres Indian. They were shrewd and able men, and knew well the means to take to rouse up their countrymen to resistance. Popé seized upon the superstition of his untutored brethren, and turned it to a good account. He shut himself up for a time in the estufa, and would neither see nor hold any intercourse with his companions. When he appeared again in the village, he informed them that he had held communion with the devil, and through him feigned to have received messages from the infernal regions. These revelations directed him as to the course he should pursue to meet with success. He was to unite all the pueblos in a common league against the Spaniards, and the method of giving them information was also pointed out. He was to make a rope of palm-leaf fibres, in which were to be tied a number of knots. This was to be forwarded from pueblo to pueblo by the swiftest runners, and each village that joined in the conspiracy was to untie a knot. The number of knots remaining in the rope when it should be returned whence it was sent would signify the number of days before the outbreak was to take place. The rope was sent round as the devil had directed, and all the villages to which it was carried
The organization was effected with the greatest secrecy, and every possible means taken to prevent a discovery and insure success; and they were so fearful their conspiracy might be divulged to the enemy, it is said they did not let a woman into the secret. Even those who fell under suspicion were put to death; and Popé caused his own son-in-law, Nicolas Bua, governor of the pueblo of San Juan, to be killed, for no other reason than because he was suspected of treachery by some of the conspirators. The day fixed upon for the breaking out of the rebellion was the tenth of August (1680), and the poor Indians looked forward to its arrival as the period that was to deliver their necks from the yoke of the Spaniards. They had newly bent their bows, and tipped their arrows afresh to draw Christian blood, and with impatience awaited their day of deliverance. Treachery, in spite of all their precautions, lurked in their own ranks, and their whole plan of operations became known to the Spaniards. Five days before the revolution was to commence, two Indians of the pueblo of Tezuque visited the Spanish governor at Santa Fé, and divulged to him the conspiracy, and thus he was placed upon his guard.
The Indians were aware, the same day, that their plot was discovered, and, fearing that delay might endanger the whole enterprise, they resolved to take up arms immediately. They commenced the work of death that night, and killed all the Spaniards who had the misfortune to fall into their hands, being particularly hostile against the priests. The Christians were in dismay, but made the best disposition to defend themselves possible. Word was sent to all the settlements of the rebellion, with orders for the inhabitants to prepare themselves for the emergency. In a few days several thousand Indians
The defeated Spaniards marched to El Paso del Norte, undergoing many hardships on the way. The fugitive troops remained encamped near that place until the autumn of the following year, awaiting re-enforcements and supplies for a reconquest of the country. They arrived in October, and in the month of November Otermin took up the line of march for New Mexico, with an army of several hundred men and a good supply of provisions. He proceeded, in spite of deep snows and cold weather, which he encountered nearly all the way up the valley as far as the pueblo of San Félipe, where he met the enemy in such force that he deemed it advisable to retreat, and so retraced his steps to El Paso. Several subsequent efforts were made to bring the revolted Indians to subjection, but none of the commanders were successful until the Viceroy of Mexico sent Bargas into the country in 1692. He succeeded in reducing all the pueblos to terms, and by the year 1696 peace and quietness were restored to the whole province. He marched throughout
From the close of the rebellion of 1680 to the year 1837 the two races lived in comparative peace with each other. The Spaniards abated some of the rigor they had hitherto practiced toward the Indians, and the latter were secured in the enjoyment of privileges they did not before possess. In the latter year, as has been already mentioned, they again rose in rebellion, and advanced in thousands upon the capital. The troops were defeated, the governor and leading officials put to death, and the government fell into the hands of the Indians. They retained it, however, for a few weeks only, when they were overpowered by the Mexican authorities, and again brought to subjection. Since the close of the war with Mexico they have remained at peace with our government, and seem pleased with the change of masters. They are friendly in their feelings toward the Americans, but have always manifested hostility to the Mexicans. The good-will they manifest toward our people is probably produced, in some degree, by circumstances. It is said they have always had a tradition among them that a new race of men would come from the east to deliver them from the bondage of the Spaniards and Mexicans, and the Americans, coming from that quarter, may have led them to believe that we were their promised deliverers. When General Kearney took possession of the country in 1846, the Pueblo Indians were among the first to give in their adherence to the new order of things, and, with the exception of the Taos Indians taking part in the rebellion of 1847, they have never manifested other than the most friendly disposition. Upon several occasions they have volunteered to assist our troops in chastising the wild tribes for depredations committed upon the settlements, and have always fought with a gallantry hardly second to the United States troops. As guides and spies in Indian warfare they are invaluable, and they will follow a hostile trail with the keenness of a bloodhound, and that, too, even when the most experienced woodsman can see no signs of footsteps.
PUEBLO OF TAOS.—SOUTH PUEBLO.
The population of the Pueblo Indians at the present time is not more than ten thousand souls. They yet live in little communities entirely separate and distinct from the Mexican population, with their own local customs and laws. Their villages are constructed of adobes, and in a style peculiar to themselves. In some instances the houses are small, and built around a square court-yard, while in other cases the village is composed of two or three large buildings contiguous to each other, which sometimes accommodate as many as a thousand or fifteen hundred people. They look much more like fortresses than dwelling-places, and if properly manned are capable of making a strong defense against small arms. The pueblo near the town of Don Fernandez de Taos, in the northern part of the territory, is the best sample of the ancient mode of building. Here there are two large houses three or four hundred feet in length, and about a hundred and fifty feet wide at the base. They are situated upon opposite sides of a small creek, and in ancient times are said to have been connected by a bridge. They are five and six stories high, each story receding from the one below it, and thus forming a structure terraced from top to bottom. Each story is divided into numerous little compartments, the outer tiers of rooms being lighted by small windows in the sides, while those in the interior of the building are dark, and are principally used as store-rooms. One of the most singular
Each pueblo contains an estufa, which is used both as a council-chamber and a place of worship, where they practice such of their heathen rites as still exist among them. It is built partly under ground, and is considered a consecrated and holy place. Here they hold all their deliberations upon public affairs, and transact the necessary business of the village. It is said to be their custom, when they return from a successful war expedition, to repair to the estufa, where they strip themselves of their clothing, and dance and otherwise celebrate their success; and that, upon some occasions, they remain there two or three days before visiting their families.
The government of the pueblos is purely democratic; and although they are in some instances subject to the laws of the United States and of the Territory, in most respects they are independent communities. Each village is entirely independent of the others, with its own local government and laws; and there is no common bond of union between them. An election is held each year for a governor, alcalde, fiscal or constable, and a war
The latter has no power of confirmation, but they come and announce their election as a matter of custom. They formerly presented themselves to the governor of the Territory, but since an agent has been appointed to watch over their interests, this official visitation is made to him. Upon such state occasions, his red excellency brings with him a silver-headed cane, his staff of office, and assumes as much dignity as a bona fide white governor. The process of confirmation simply consists in the agent taking the cane into his hands, and then handing it back to the governor; but under the Mexican government it was the custom, I believe, for the new incumbent to kneel before the governor of the Territory, to whom he presented himself, who confirmed him by some process of laying on of hands. The alcalde is the judiciary of the village, from whose court there is no appeal; and the fiscal serves all legal process, and enforces obedience to their customs and laws. The war captain is their mighty man of Mars—he who sets their squadrons in the field, and leads them on to victory. In the "piping times of peace" he is a mere nobody, and has neither power nor dignity of office wherewith to console himself; but when the "blast of war sounds in his ears," he is clothed with great authority. He then becomes "commander-in-chief of the army and navy" thereof, and is the champion of the tawny warriors both in the council-chamber and in the field.
As heretofore mentioned, the Pueblo Indians have embraced the Catholic religion, and at the present time I believe the Moquis are the only ones among whom there are neither transitory nor permanent priests. At an early day there were missionaries among the latter, who were either killed or driven away during the revolution, and their places were never afterward filled. Although nominally Catholics, they still cling to many of their heathen rites, and mingle their pagan ceremonies with the forms of Christian worship. One of their ancient rites is called the cachina dance, to which they are much attached, and which they celebrate at certain seasons of the year with great rejoicings. This dance was suppressed by the Spaniards when they first made a conquest of the country and forced their religion upon the natives, which the Indians considered so great a deprivation that it is alleged as one of the main causes of the
The land belonging to each pueblo is held in common by the inhabitants, but for purposes of cultivation it is parceled out to the several families, who raise their own crops, and dispose of the produce of their labor. Irrigation is necessary, and by careful tillage they can raise as fine crops as any produced in the Territory. They grow wheat, corn, beans, and vegetables and fruits. They have paid considerable attention to the cultivation of the grape, and some of the pueblos own large and valuable vineyards. They make wine from the grapes, and also sell them in a ripe state in the neighboring Mexican towns. They raise stock, and some of the pueblos own considerable herds of horses, mules, oxen, and sheep.
As a class, the Pueblo Indians are among the most orderly and useful people in the Territory; they are industrious, frugal, and peaceable, and generally live in harmony with each other and the surrounding Mexican population. There are no paupers or drones among them, because all are obliged to labor and contribute something to the weal of the community to which they belong. Their weapons are the bow and arrow, and a few old guns. They are a brave people, and have oftentimes shown themselves more than a match for the wild Indians.
They retain, in a great measure, their aboriginal costume, and in but few instances have adopted the dress worn by the Mexicans. The outer garments of the men consist of a jacket and leggins made of deer-skins, tanned; the leggins are worn by all, but many dispense with the jacket, and wrap up in a buffalo robe, which they gird around the waist. Some wear a blanket instead of the buffalo robe, and a few wear cotton shirts. The women wear leggins the same as the men; but instead of the jacket or buffalo robe, they wear a handsome blanket or mantle over the shoulders, in such a manner as to leave both arms free. A shorter blanket, called a tilma, is worn in front, falling down as low as the knee; and both the tilma and the blanket worn over the shoulders are
They appear to have lost most of the few arts they possessed when the country was first discovered by the Spaniards. Then they manufactured some fabrics of cotton, and other articles of curious workmanship. They still make a coarse kind of blanket for their own use, but they devote the greater part of their time to the manufacture of earthenware, which they sell in quantities to the Mexicans. It exhibits some skill, and is often adorned with various devices painted upon it before it is burned. This ware is in universal use in the territory, and there is considerable demand for it in the market. They also make vessels of wicker-work tight enough to hold water after they have been once saturated. They are formed of the fibres of some plant ingeniously plaited together, and some of the proper size and shape are used by travelers as canteens.
Their food is simple and wholesome, and is the same found in common use among the Mexican population. It consists principally of tortillas, frijoles, atole, pinole, and chile, the method of preparing all of which will be described elsewhere. They are probably of aboriginal origin, and were adopted by the first Spanish settlers who came into the country. They make another quality of bread from maize different from the tortilla, the use of which is principally confined to the Indians, which is
The Pueblo Indians are not recognized as citizens of the United States, or of the Territory of New Mexico, in which respect they are in the same condition as the wild tribes, but in other particulars they are placed in a more favorable position. The laws protect them in their persons and property, and they have the right to sue in courts of justice the same as citizens, for this purpose being created bodies politic by the territorial Legislature. They are also made amenable to the criminal laws of the Territory for offenses committed against one of their own number or against a citizen. An agent is appointed by the President to watch over their interests, and Congress has appropriated twelve thousand dollars to be expended in the purchase of agricultural implements for the various pueblos.
The question as to whether the Pueblo Indians are citizens of the United States has been mooted and discussed upon two occasions, and there are not wanting those who contend that they are entitled to all the political rights of the free white male inhabitants of the Union. This view of the case is manifestly wrong; and where the evidence is so clear to the contrary, this opinion must have been embraced in the absence of a proper examination of the subject. It is maintained by those who hold
While Spain held the country, none but Spaniards or Europeans were recognized as citizens of the monarchy, all the mixed races being excluded. During the revolution which resulted in the independence of Mexico, the revolutionists, in order to attach the masses to their cause, declared all the inhabitants of the country to be citizens, whether Europeans, Africans, or Indians. This doctrine, in words at least, appears to have been recognized in the plan of Iguala, the treaty of Cordova, and two or three subsequent decrees of the Mexican Congress, down as late as the 17th of September, 1822. But after the independence was established, and the federal Constitution formed, I know of no law or act of the government that recognized them as citizens of the republic, but the contrary appears to have been the case. If the Pueblos were entitled to these rights, so were the wild tribes also, as the word "Indians" is used without any qualification as to class; and if the authorities cited embrace one portion of the race, they embrace all, which would include the Nabajos, Apaches, and Utahs. The truth is, that Mexico, after the revolution, never did consider the Pueblo Indians citizens, but they were always viewed as wards, subject to the control of the government. The land they occupied was only held by the right of possession, and they were expressly forbidden to sell, rent, lease, or in any manner alienate the same; and as late as the year 1827, the Mexican Congress had to confirm the sale of a rancho belonging to the pueblo of Cochiti before the purchaser could obtain a title. The acts and decrees upon this subject are still in force in
But, admitting that the Pueblo Indians were citizens of Mexico while under her jurisdiction, it by no means follows that they were made citizens of the United States by the operation of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That document is very clear upon this point, and we need not go behind it to determine the question. The ninth article provides as follows, viz.: ‘‘The Mexicans who, in the territory aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican republic conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution, and in the mean time shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without restriction.’’
Now no man who has eyes to read and sense to understand can place a wrong construction upon this clause of the treaty without a willful intention to do so. The only class of persons in the acquired territory who can lay any claim to be admitted to the rights of citizens of the United States are those that belong to the race known as "Mexicans," who are specified as a class, without any reference whatever to their citizenship; and, according to the tenor of the ninth article, their being citizens of Mexico at the making of the treaty does not
The Act of Congress, approved September 9th, 1855, establishing a territorial government in New Mexico, shows the construction Congress placed upon the treaty as regards citizenship. Under this act Indians are excepted in providing for an apportionment of the inhabitants for representatives, and none are allowed to vote and hold office except "white male inhabitants," citizens
Many curious tales are related of the superstitious customs of the Indians, among which I find the following told of the Pecos pueblo. It is said that in the estufa the sacred fire was kept constantly burning, having been originally kindled by Montezuma. It was in a basin of a small altar, and, in order to prevent its becoming extinguished, a watch was kept over it day and night. The tradition runs that Montezuma had enjoined upon their ancestors not to allow the fire to expire until he should return to deliver them from the Spaniards, and hence their watchful care over it. He was expected to appear with the rising sun, and every morning the Indians went upon the house-tops, and, with eyes turned toward the east, looked for the coming of their monarch. Alas for them, he never came; and when the smouldering embers had expired, they gave up all hope of deliverance, and sought new homes in a distant pueblo. The task of watching the sacred fires was assigned to the warriors, who served by turns for a period of two days and two nights at a time, without eating or drinking, while some say that they remained upon duty until death or exhaustion relieved them from their post. The remains of those who died from the effect of watching are said to have been carried to the den of a great serpent, which appears to have lived upon these delicacies
The survivors of the Pecos Indians relate another tradition connected with the early history of their people. Upon one occasion, and before the Spaniards had settled in the country, a man and his little son went into the mountains to gather wood. The boy was startled at the sound of a voice, and asked his father who spoke to them, who replied that he did not hear any body, and they continued to pick up wood. In a few moments the voice was heard again, when the father looked up and saw a large eagle perched in the top of a high pine-tree. The bird now told the Indian that the king across the waters was sending people into the country to take care of the Pueblos, and that if he would come back to that spot in eight days, it could tell him when they would arrive. The eagle also directed him to inform his village what he had heard. When the Indian returned to the pueblo, he told the head men he had something to communicate, who assembled in the estufa to listen to him, when he related an account of the appearance of the eagle and what it had said to him. At the end of eight days he returned to the mountain, where he found the eagle awaiting him, which informed him that the men from across the waters would arrive in two days, and
At stated periods they practice various dances in their villages, which have been handed down from their heathen ancestors. Some belong to their religious rites, and others do not. That known as You-pel-lay, or the green corn dance, as performed by the Indians of Jemez, is thus described in the journal of Lieutenant Simpson:‘‘
When the performers first appeared, all of whom were men, they came in a line, slowly walking, and bending and stooping as they approached. They were dressed in a kind of blanket, the upper portion of their bodies being naked and painted a dark red. Their legs and arms, which were also bare, were variously striped with red, white, and blue colors, and around their arms, above the elbow, they wore a green band decked with sprigs of piñon. A necklace of the same description was worn around the neck. Their heads were decorated with feathers. In one hand they carried a dry gourd containing some grains of corn, with which they produced a rattling kind of music; in the other a string, from which were hung several tortillas. At the knee were fastened small shells of the ground turtle and antelopes' feet, and
The party were accompanied by three elders of the town, whose business it was to make a short speech in front of the different houses, and at particular times join in the singing of the rest of the party. Thus they went from house to house singing and dancing, the occupant of each awaiting their arrival in front of their respective dwelling.’’
In conclusion of this subject, I give a vocabulary of words in the language of most of the pueblos, taken from the journal of Lieutenant Simpson. It will be seen that we differ a little in the classification of the pueblos as regards their nationality. My arrangement is based mainly upon the classification of Cruzate made in 1692, which I have no doubt was correct as then given. He spent a considerable time in the country, visited the various pueblos, and had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with the Indians and their language. He divides them into four nations, and places Jemez, Zuñi, and Moqui as belonging to the Queres division and speaking the same language. The vocabulary of Lieutenant Simpson makes these pueblos speak different languages, which can not be the case unless Cruzate was in error, or that since his time these people have changed their languages, neither of which is probable. These villages in 1692 spoke the same language as his class marked (1),
|In the language of the Pueblo Indians of—|
|Name of the Object in English.||Santo Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Silla, Laguna, Acoma, Conchiti. (1.)||San Juan, Santa Clara, S. Ildefonso, Pojuaque, Nambe, Tezuque. (2.)||Taos, Picoris, Sandia, Isleta. (3.)||Jemez and Old Pecos. (4.)||Zuni. (5.)||Moqui. (6.)|
|God…||Dios (Spanish). Montezuma, they say, is synonymous with Dios||Give no other word than the Spanish Dios||Huam-may-ah||Pay (same as for sun)||Ho-ae-wo-nae-we-oh-nah||Toe-kill.|
|Wife…||Kar-nats-shu||Nah-we-so||Could give no word||Ne-ohoy||Could give no word||…|
|Horse …||Kah-yai-oh (probably a corruption of the Span.caballo)||As in Sp.||Kah-wan-nah (probably a corruption of the Spanish)||Gu-wah||Too-she||As in Spanish.|
|Serpent …||Skers-ker||Could give no word||Hatch-oo-nah||Pay-chu-lah||Che-to-lah||…|
|Bread …||Pah (probably a corruption of the Spanish pan)||As in Sp.||Ah-coon-nah||Zo-tane-bae-lah||Moo-lun-nay||…|
1. The reader will observe in this chapter some repetition of facts mentioned in Chapter III., which could not be well avoided, but was required in order to make each subject complete in itself.