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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark HAWIKUH
New Mexico

Location: Valencia County, 12 miles southwest of Zuñi Pueblo, on a graded road, along the opposite side of the Zuñi River, northwest of the village of Ojo Caliente.

Ownership and Administration. Zuñi Indian Tribal Council; and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Significance. The now-abandoned Zuñi pueblo of Hawikuh was once the largest of the fabled "Cities of Cibola," at which the early Spanish explorers hoped to find wealth. Probably at Hawikuh, or possibly Kiakima, the Negro Estévan died at the hands of the Indians in May 1539, and Fray Marcos de Niza viewed one of these pueblos from a distance. In July 1540, Coronado and his army arrived at Hawikuh, the first pueblo they visited. After a sharp skirmish with the inhabitants, during which a few Spaniards were wounded and a few Indians killed, Coronado stormed the pueblo and took possession. The ill treatment that he and his men accorded the Indians set the pattern for Spanish-Indian conflict in the Southwest for the duration of Spanish rule.

From Hawikuh, Tovar and Cárdenas journeyed to the Hopi country and the Grand Canyon; Alvarado, north and east to Taos and Pecos. Coronado made his headquarters at Hawikuh for several months during the summer and autumn of 1540 before moving east to winter on the Rio Grande. Subsequent Spanish explorers, including Chamuscado and Rodríguez (1581), Espejo (1583), Oñate (1598 and 1604-05), and Zaldívar (1599), also visited the pueblo.

In 1629, the Spanish founded a mission, La Purísima Concepción de Hawikuh, at the pueblo. The Zuñis in 1632 murdered the resident priest, Fray Francisco Letrado, and fled to another pueblo. They returned in 1635, when the mission was reestablished as a visita of the mission at Halona Pueblo. In 1672, Apaches raided Hawikuh, killed the priest, and burned the church. The church was rebuilt, only to be destroyed during the Pueblo rebellion of 1680, in which the Zuñis participated wholeheartedly, and during which they abandoned the pueblo. When they submitted to Don Diego de Vargas during the reconquest of 1692, they returned to the Zuñi country but reoccupied only one of the six pueblos, Halona. Hawikuh has thus been abandoned since 1680.

Present Appearance. The ruins of Hawikuh cover the top of a long, low ridge on the Zuñi Indian Reservation. The site was excavated during the period 1917-23 by an expedition of the Heye Foundation under the leadership of Frederick Webb Hodge. Sandstone rock walls, in places several feet high, outline the foundations and rooms of part of the pueblo; and mounds of earth littered with rocks mark the locations of other portions. Mounds of eroded adobe, 2 or 3 feet high, are all that remain of the mission church and part of the monastery. [43]

NHL Designation: 10/09/60

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005