13. San Felipe, Santa Ana, and Zia

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These three pueblos, belonging to the Queres nation, are situated so nearly together that they may be united in one chapter, although San Felipe is on the Rio Grande, and Santa Ana and Zia are on the Jemez River.

Of the other Queres towns, Cochití and Santo Domingo are treated of separately, and Acoma and Laguna, which are included among the Queres although the language varies somewhat, are so distinct from the Rio Grande pueblos that they also require individual consideration and a chapter is devoted to each.


San Felipe is situated only about twelve miles from Santo Domingo, and is directly on the west bank of the Rio Grande, having a high mesa as a background. It is very conspicuous to travelers passing on the trains of the Santa Fé Railroad, as there is only the river bed between; and the railroad being slightly higher than the town, the latter seems spread out especially for inspection. The church, which directly faces the river and the railroad, presents such a dazzlingly white appearance that it never fails to attract attention. Trans-continental travelers

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on the Santa Fé line should bear in mind that there are just five existing Pueblo Indian towns that are visible from the trains. The first is Santo Domingo, about a mile west of Domingo station, and at the point where the railroad reaches the Rio Grande; a very fair view of the pueblo may be had


from the north side of the train. The next is San Felipe, about twelve miles farther west and a little north of Algodones station, and of this there is a fine view from the same car windows. Farther down the river, between Bernalillo and Alameda, the railroad runs almost directly through the pueblo of

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Sandia, but there is little of interest to be seen as the little Indian village is almost swallowed by the large Mexican population of the valley.

After leaving Albuquerque and just after crossing the Rio Grande on a long bridge, at a distance of about twelve and a half miles, the train, whether going to El Paso or California, brings one to the large pueblo of Isleta. This is one of the most populous and altogether the richest of the Pueblo towns, with a vast expanse of vineyards, orchards, and gardens and an air of evident prosperity. Fifty-six miles farther west on the way to California the traveler arrives at Laguna, and will be well repaid for a short stop-over, even if he does not stay longer and visit Acoma. Until 1913 the railroad ran directly through Laguna, and of course afforded an excellent view of the pueblo, but in that year the line was changed about a mile to the north in order to avoid washouts, and the view of the town is not now as good as before.

But remembering the sequence of the Pueblo towns and the distances which separate them, one can see these five without the loss of an hour or the expenditure of a dollar, and gain a very fair knowledge of their appearance and the character of the houses which compose them.

To visit Santa Ana and Zia one must follow the Rio Grande down to the mouth of the Jemez River and then ascend the valley of the latter to the respective towns. Santa Aria lies about eight miles up the river and Zia is an additional eight miles. If

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traveling by rail, the tourist will go to Bernalillo and obtain a conveyance at that place. As these two pueblos are on the direct road to the pueblo of Jemez, the three towns may be very comfortably visited on the same trip, and, as suggested under the head of Cochití, by arranging a tour in the midsummer, a number of very interesting festivals may be attended with very little loss of time, including that of Cochití on July 14th, of Santa Ana on July 26th, of Santo Domingo on August 4th, and of Zia on August 15th.

This province of the Queres is mentioned by every one of the early explorers. Coronado (1541) calls it Quirix, Espejo (1581) Quires, and Castaño (1590) Quereses.

In the first missionary organization, immediately after Oñate's settlement at San Gabriel in 1598, Father Juan de Rosas was assigned to the Queres province and San Felipe and Santa Ana are named among the pueblos placed in his charge. Zia being at quite a distance from the Rio Grande, was included in the Jemez province which was put in charge of Alonzo de Lugo. No doubt churches were almost immediately built at all the principal towns, which would surely include those which we are now considering. In the list that forms part of the report made by Benavides to the king of Spain in 1630, he says of the Queres nation: “Advancing four leagues further ahead, the Queres nation commences, with its first Pueblo of San Felipe, and it stretches out for over ten leagues into seven pueblos. There are

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probably in them about four thousand souls, all baptized, with three very costly and beautiful churches and conventos, besides the ones each pueblo has. These Indians are very skillful in reading, writing and music on all instruments, and are masters in all occupations, through the great industry of the religious persons who converted them.”

At the opening of the Pueblo Revolution in 1680 there were no Spaniards killed at San Felipe. There was no resident priest there, as the central convento was at Santo Domingo and the San Felipe church was served from there. It seems, however, according to Vetancurt, that there was a “capilla de musicos” there before that time, where the Indians were taught to sing church music. At the outbreak of the Revolution some Indians known to be friendly to the Spaniards were killed, but the Spaniards living in the vicinity fled to Sandia and thence to Isleta. Of course the church and everything connected with Christian worship in the old pueblo were destroyed in the first frenzy of the Revolution. During the thirteen years of Indian control the people moved from the old location of their town to the high mesa on the west side of the Rio Grande, a little above the present pueblo of San Felipe, and there they were found when De Vargas appeared in 1692. They accepted the reconquest, as most of the pueblos did in that year, and promised obedience to both the Church and State of the Castilians. When De Vargas returned in 1693 they remained faithful to their promise, as did the Indians of Zia, while their Queres

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brethren in Cochití and Santo Domingo were foremost in opposing the reëntry of the Spaniards. This brought on a fierce antagonism between those pueblos, and the men of Zia and San Felipe were invaluable


allies of De Vargas. When reconquest was finally accomplished and the country pacified, a church was immediately built at the pueblo on the crest of the Black Mesa, and there its ruins remain

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today, a very conspicuous object of observation from every passing railroad train. The ruins of the old pueblo on the mesa, and the church, which is the most interesting feature, are easily reached by the tourist and will repay the trouble of a visit a hundred fold. The view from the point where the church stands, up and down the beautiful Rio Grand Valley and on the eastward across the river to the picturesque profiles of the Tuerto and Sandia mountains, is one of unsurpassed extent and grandeur. The pueblo was built in a square, open toward the river but presenting a solid wall on the other three sides, being two hundred and fifty feet long by one hundred and ninety feet in width. The church, which is situated at the northeast corner on the very edge of the almost perpendicular wall of the mesa, measures fifty-four by twenty feet.

In the early part of the eighteenth century the high situation on the mesa was found to be too inconvenient for life in peaceful days, and the people again moved the entire town to its present location near the bank of the river, still retaining for the pueblo its original name of Kat-isht-ya. Here the present church was erected, and still serves the needs of the people. It is cared for most faithfully, being whitened every year until it glistens in the bright sunlight. An interesting feature connected with its recent history is that the followers of St. Francis, who founded the mission more than three hundred years ago, and baptized, married, and buried generation after generation of its people, until practically

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expelled by the Mexican government in 1823, have returned to the field of their ancient labors and are again ministering to the descendants of their old converts. On July 9, 1900, after three-quarters of a century of absence, they resumed charge of the mission, in connection with those of Santo Domingo and Cochití, and the large parish which has its center at Peña Blanca.


The only Queres towns which still remain in the valley of the Jemez River are Santa Ana and Zia. All the others of the group which existed in the times of Coronado and Espejo have been abandoned or destroyed.

The first that was known of these towns was toward the end of the winter of 1540-41 when Coronado was making his winter quarters at Tihuex on the Rio Grande not very far from the modern Bernalillo. During the winter various explorations had been made, and, as spring opened, a captain with a small detachment of soldiers was directed to visit the pueblo of Chia, situated about four leagues north from the Rio Grande. In the old chronicles the name of this town is variously spelled Cia, Zia, Chia, Tsia, and Tria, but all unmistakably point to the same place on the Jemez River. The inhabitants are always spoken of as industrious and prosperous people, and when visited by the Spaniards they had the good sense to submit without opposition to the authority claimed by the new-comers, and when Coronado marched to the east in search of the illusive

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Quivira, as a mark of special confidence, the four old bronze cannon which he had brought with infinite labor from Mexico, were left in their charge.

Forty years pass before the veil is again lifted and Zia is again seen. This time it is Espejo who is the discoverer. He tells of a visit to the province of the Cumanes, with five towns, the principal one of which was named Zia, and was a large pueblo having eight plazas or market places, and houses plastered or painted in many colors. The people were very generous and provided the Spaniards with an abundance of provisions and beautiful mantas made of cotton, which compared favorably with those then made in Europe or brought from China.

After the establishment of Oñate's colony at San Gabriel, when the Franciscan missionaries were sent out into separate districts, Santa Ana was among the towns apportioned to Father Juan de Rosas, whose headquarters were on the Rio Grande; and Zia was assigned to Father Alonzo de Lugo who was located at Jemez. Both of these padres were energetic men, and it is probable that a church was built in each of these towns within a very few years. According to Benavides' report, made in 1630, there were seven churches in the Queres province at that time, of which at least three must have been in the Jemez Valley, and Zia and Santa Ana were probably the most important of these. After the Pueblo Revolution of 1680 we hear only of those two towns on the Jemez River in this vicinity; the others had evidently been destroyed or abandoned.

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In 1687, when Governor Cruzate attempted the reconquest of New Mexico, General Reneros de Posada marched up from El Paso as far as Zia, where on October 6th a decisive battle was fought with the Indians from the neighboring towns, who were defeated with great loss; no less than six hundred being killed and seventy taken prisoners. These latter were condemned to slavery for ten years, except a few old men who were shot in the plaza. This is always referred to in histories as the “Battle of Zia.”

Five years later when De Vargas came on his first expedition of reconquest, Zia and Santa Ana made no resistance, but were recovered to the Spanish authority both in Church and State. The reception of the governor and the accompanying priests in October, 1692, was a very notable occurrence, and was conducted with great ceremony. The oath of allegiance then taken was faithfully kept in 1693, during the second expedition of De Vargas, and the Indians of Santa Ana and Zia became very important allies of the Spaniards. By this they incurred the enmity of their Queres brothers in Cochití and Santo Domingo, and were largely instrumental in the capture of the Cochití stronghold of the Potrero Viejo. Bartolomé de Ojeda, who now was war captain of the pueblo of Santa Ana, was the leader of the loyal Indians in that vicinity in all the contests between the Spaniards and the natives from 1692 down to the decisive victory over the warriors of Jemez and their confederates in the San Diego cañon in 1696.

Both Zia and Santa Ana are situated on bluffs on

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the east side of the Jemez River, which is almost a mile wide at that point, and the towns are reached by steep ascents. In Santa Ana—the original name of which is Ta-ma-ya—the houses are built of adobe, and the greater number of these are two stories high. There is one large estufa in the town, circular and forty-two feet in diameter. The windows, when they are not entirely open, are made of selenite, which is sufficiently transparent to answer the purpose and afford light. The town consists of three long rows of houses, parallel to each other, other buildings being placed irregularly, without any apparent desire for uniformity. The church is very long and built of adobe, with a tower, and a number of rooms adjoining, as was usually the case when the priest was resident. Among the noticeable contents of the church are two oval pictures, one of John the Baptist and the other of some unnamed saint, and two “santos,” carved from wood, about two feet high. Over the altar is a large painting of John the Baptist and the Saviour, the latter much smaller than the Baptist, and with a dove over his head.

The pueblo of Zia is built on a bluff or mesa, without any regard to regularity of structure. The houses differ from those in other Indian villages, as they are mostly constructed of cobble-stones, with mud used as mortar. Some are two stories in height and others but one; according to the ability or necessities of the owner. The ovens are also built in the same way. The town now possesses but one estufa, and in every way is greatly reduced from its size

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and importance of three hundred years ago. Still it is highly regarded by the people of the other pueblos, and by the tribal Indians who come long distances to be present at the annual festival. This causes that fiesta to be perhaps the most brilliant in all of New Mexico, as multitudes of visitors ride in on horseback, especially from the Navajo country. The men wear magnificent blankets and the women brightly embroidered mantelas. The strings of beads displayed here on these occasions are of surpassing beauty and represent a great deal of money value, as the Navajos, as well as the Pueblo Indians of this part of New Mexico, keep what wealth they possess in this form, especially in fine coral. Long experience has taught them to be experts in the selection of fine specimens, and traders have learned that there is no imitation that can possibly deceive them. The writer knows of a case in which three horses, one with a saddle, and $20 in money, were offered for a single string of fine coral beads.

The church at Zia is located at the northern extremity of the town, almost on the edge of the mesa, and at a considerable distance from both of the plazas. It is dazzlingly white both without and within, and in front there is a yard originally used for a burial ground, surrounded by an equally dazzlingly white wall and containing in its center a great wooden cross.

Zia being dedicated to Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, the Assumption of the Virgin is naturally the prominent event represented in the ornamentation

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of the sacred building. The altar piece, which occupies the entire west end of the church, is of carved wood with a large canvas painting of the Assumption in the center, under which is another picture of the Virgin and Child being crowned by angels. Above these is an oval frame, and between oddly formed wooden scrolls is a representation of the Saviour, with outstretched hands as if bestowing a benediction, and on the sides are four other oval pictures of saints with the quaint surroundings which characterize the Mexican work of a century ago. The whole was the pious offering of Don Victor Sandoval and his wife, whose memory is kept fresh in the minds of the grateful people by the following inscription:


“Hizo este altar

a devosion de Don

Vitor Sandoval.

Y de su esposa

Dna. Ma. Man-

uela Ortiz en el año de



On the altar is the image of the Virgin of the Assumption, which, though small, is held in highest reverence as being the patrona and protectress of the pueblo. A silver crown rests upon her head and she is enveloped in a red mantle or robe so long that it spreads over the altar on all sides. This robe is bordered with green, the shoulders are covered with white lace, and black veiling is thrown over the entire figure. On her festival day (August 15th) this image is taken from the church and carried with great ceremony under a canopy in the procession,

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and then returned for another year to its proper position in the church.

Both plazas contain objects which immediately arrest the attention of the observing tourist. In the center of the northerly one is a square pavement made of rounded stones which is about ten feet across, and in the other are two large stones conspicuously placed, one in the center of the plaza and one about twenty feet to the southwest.

Here, also, is a large wooden cross, and by its side a piece of worn and rounded wood just eighteen inches high. There is no difficulty in ascertaining what this latter is. It is the cherished remnant, preserved for almost two hundred years, of the great cross set up by De Vargas on October 24, 1692. Only the oldest officials seem to know that the pavement and the two stones are memorials of the events of the same day. Written history tells us that when De Vargas approached, with his little army, the Indians came out to meet him, their chief in advance, all carrying crosses in their hands; and thus escorted him to the plaza. Here arches and crosses had been erected in token of amity and welcome. The governor addressed the inhabitants, explaining to them, as he had to the other pueblos, their duties to God and to the Emperor, threatening punishment to the disobedient and promising rewards to those loyal to Church and State. He then took formal possession of the pueblo, and appointed officials from among the people; and the accompanying priests, Fathers Corveto and Barrios, pronounced absolution for all the

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people for past offenses, and baptized a large number of the young who had not before received that sacrament; and the ceremonies concluded with the erection of a great cross, the chanting of hymns and the performance of the favorite dance of the people of Zia.

The tradition in the pueblo agrees substantially with this, and adds that the first meeting, where De Vargas addressed the people, was in the upper plaza, and the square paving was constructed as a memorial of that event; that the final ceremonies were performed in the lower plaza, where the great cross was placed, and that as it was being erected, De Vargas and his chief officer sat on two great stones, and those stones have consequently been preserved there unto this day. The cross was cherished and cared for with a kind of adoration, but time has done its work until only the fragment eighteen inches high remains. A new cross has replaced the old one, but the little piece of storm-worn wood, set up by the great reconqueror, is more sacred in their eyes than any structure of modern days, and more valuable than if formed of purest gold.

In recounting this history the white-haired elders of the people never mention De Vargas by any other name than that of “El Rey”—the King—he being the representative of the Spanish power and the highest official who had ever visited their country.

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