Chapter VII. Of Certain Pueblos near Santa Fé
THE tourist in Santa Fé who has a few spare days upon his hands may entertain himself very pleasantly by hiring a team, or an automobile if he prefers it, and visiting the half dozen Indian pueblos which are within easy reach of New Mexico's ancient capital.
Nearest is Tesuque, of which some mention has already been made, but which will increase in interest with acquaintance. It is an unobserving traveller who does not see something new upon each succeeding visit to an Indian town; for the Pueblo does not wear his heart upon his sleeve and by no means shows at first meeting all that he is.
The proximity of Tesuque to Santa Fé—nine miles—has not been altogether good for Tesuque. The constant contact with traders and tourists has developed a decidedly commercial quality in this people, and they are paying much more attention
At Tesuque, more than at any other pueblo, we found our presence mainly tolerable in proportion to our willingness to spend money, and we got more than one ugly look when we declined to pay two prices for the indifferent wares that were plentifully set before us. Yet it was not so at all houses—in many we found still the simple, uncalculating
The date of Tesuque's annual public fiesta, November 12th, is one of Santa Fé's gala days, and the road thence to the pueblo is crowded that morning with carriages, farm waggons, bicycles, horses, and automobiles, carrying visitors to the festivities. The character of this Indian dance differs in different years, but is always interesting, and, with the preceding mass and church procession, consumes the greater part of a day. Sitting on a housetop looking down on the great plaza at the dancers in their beautiful, barbaric costumes and kaleidoscopic colour, and on the encircling spectators, most of whom are Mexicans in more or less gay attire, we seem to be looking at a foreign scene, so unlike is it to what we associate with our United States. The intoxication at Tesuque on these occasions is often a distressing concomitant of the novel beauty of the ceremonies, and at the time of our last visit, many of the Indian spectators were maudlin drunk before noon. The dancers themselves, however, were entirely sober and seemingly suitably impressed with the solemnity of the religious rite in which they were engaged; but it seems the debauch with them was simply postponed. When the shadows drew long across the plaza, and the dancers finally disappeared into their ceremonial chamber, we asked an Indian standing near us if there were anything more to come.
A Tesuque mother and baby. The child is asleep in the cradle swinging by cords from beams in the ceiling.
About ten miles from Tesuque, beneath the shoulder of the snow-capped Santa Fé "Baldy," is nestled the pretty little pueblo of Nambé. Time was when there was a good deal doing at Nambé, which, like Sandia, had an evil reputation in the matter of witches; but those strenuous days are now past and the little place is very much Mexicanised and down at the heel, and its atmosphere
The country all about this pueblo is thickly settled by Mexicans whose lands are close up to the pueblo walls, and it will probably not be long before Nambé will become as thoroughly swallowed up by these neighbours of Spanish blood as the extinct pueblo of Pojuaque,1 five miles farther down the Nambé River. Pojuaque, when its population had dwindled to ten, decided to quit; and two or three years ago, the little remnant moved to Nambé, and now the looker-on in Pojuaque sees nothing to indicate that it ever was an Indian pueblo.
If you are travelling by carriage—and that is the ideal plan of travel among the pueblos—you will find Pojuaque a convenient stopping-place for the night; and if you do stop there, you might do worse than lodge at Señora Bouquet's, whose long, rambling establishment, part residence, part store, and part stable, is set there by the road. The
From Pojuaque a few miles through a lonely, sun-scorched plain, untilled and untillable, gashed and ditched by a thousand dry arroyos and barrancas, and you come again to the Rio Grande and the pueblo of San Ildefonso, with its liberal plaza, an ancient cottonwood in the midst. The picturesqueness of the pueblo has suffered in the last year or two by the erection of a barn-like Roman Catholic edifice within it, replacing the historic church of adobe, which, dating from the time of the2 Looking down upon the pueblo is a huge, flat-topped mountain of black lava—the Mesa Huerfana, as the Mexicans call it, that is, "The Orphan." Upon its summit San Ildefonso sought refuge when, after the bloody Pueblo uprising in 1680, the avenging army of De Vargas appeared on the other side of the Rio Grande. The siege of the Black Mesa lasted nine months off and on, according to Lummis, the beleaguered Indians resisting four assaults upon their Gibraltar-like fortress; but Spaniards, in those days, were of a mettle hard to conquer and the San Ildefonsans were finally brought to knee. They had gone up freemen of the plain, but they came down vassals of the Spanish King. The San Ildefonso which we know to-day, at the foot of that black mount of humiliation, is not the original pueblo; that stood across the river.
‘‘Yes,’’ sighed the schoolmistress in charge at the time of one of our visits—an elderly New Englandish spinster upon whom the responsibility of her lively pupils lay very heavy—‘‘that's one trouble with them—they are too happy. If they only realised their real condition in life, there would be some hope of their improving.’’
Eight miles up the river from San Ildefonso is the Americo-Mexican village of Española, where you may put up your tired team and rent a room from Shorty. Shorty, the Boniface of Española, is a spectacled gentleman of middle age and five feet three, stouter than is safe to be, red-visaged, and during our acquaintance with him, never known to be separated from a half-chewed cigar gripped in the corner of his mouth. He keeps a saloon for the bibulous, while "Mamma" ministers to the pangs of the hungry by running in the rear of the premises a dining-room of an excellence far
Santa Clara, indeed, is within after-supper walking distance, and there is no pleasanter time of day than day's close to visit the place. The pueblo is on a sandy dune, a mile or two south of Española, overlooking the Rio Grande, which here winds its muddy course through sunny, green bottom lands before disappearing around the Black Mesa of San Ildefonso, to be swallowed up in the wild gorge of the Peña Blanca Cañon above Cochití. Beyond the river, the jagged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Sierra lift themselves against the sky—the Truchas, the Santa Fé "Baldy," and the cratered Peak of the Lakes, exceeding 12,000 feet and often snow-clad even in summer. Bandelier,
One is not long in Santa Clara before noticing that many of these Indians are taller and more slender in build than the short, stocky Pueblos of the south. Their hair, too, is worn differently, being parted in the middle and braided at the sides. This difference in look has been attributed to a probable mixture in past times with their nomadic neighbours, the Utes, the Apaches, and the Navajos.
The Santa Clara women have made a substantial reputation for themselves as makers of a peculiar, shiny black pottery, the best of it very beautifully fashioned; for, being without decoration, its attractiveness
San Juan woman in her doorway. Note the boot-like moccasins, worn in certain pueblos.
San Juan, also on the banks of the Rio Grande, but north of Española eight miles, was the town that gave to the Pueblos their most famous leader, Popé. He was the organiser of that one unanimous and, therefore, successful revolt of the Pueblos against Spanish rule, which occurred in 1680 and resulted in their killing or driving every Spaniard from the Pueblo country, and keeping them out for twelve years. San Juan is in the midst of a rather populous Mexican community, as populosity goes in New Mexico, and a well-travelled public highway runs through the pueblo lands. On it John Barleycorn travels all too frequently and San Juan's morals, as well as Santa Clara's, are not bettered by the fact, if the school-teacher's gloomy report to us as to the prevalence of inebriety there is correct. The day we spent at San Juan, however, every one was sober and reasonably happy. Old men sat in the sun at their doors, mending tattered moccasins, and, now and then, one reminiscently sang a scrap of song as he sewed; women busily came and went,
1. Pronounced Po-hwa'kā.
2. In that ancient church, it is stated by Bandelier, Jean l'Archévèque, who betrayed the French explorer La Salle to his death, was married in 1719 to a Spanish lady.