National Park Service
Kiva, Crown, Crown


The Invaders

The New Mexico: Preliminaries to Conquest

Oñate's Disenchantment

The "Christianization" of Pecos

The Shadow of the Inquisition

Their Own Worst Enemies

Pecos and the Friars

Pecos, the Plains, and the Provincias Internas

Toward Extinction



Chapter 4: The 'Christianization' of Pecos, 1617-1659

Summary Executions

If Juárez or anyone else counted on pardon for the murderers of the king's representative in New Mexico, their hopes faded in the summer of 1642 when the implacable visitor general Juan de Palafox, assumed the viceregency. Palafox stood for royal authority and against the special privileges of the religious orders. He viewed the New Mexico affair as a patent case of "revolt and sedition," crediting the reports of men like Sargento mayor Francisco Gómez and branding the Franciscans the villains in the tragedy. He instructed his governor accordingly. [93]

Under cover of general amnesty granted by Palafox, Gov. Alonso Pacheco y Heredia quietly identified the leaders of the pro-Franciscan, anti-Rosas faction. Then on July 21, he had Antonio Baca and seven other soldier-colonists beheaded in summary fashion. The same day, town crier Jusepe announced the executions to a stunned populace. The governor reiterated the general pardon and ordered every citizen of the colony to rally to the royal standard within two weeks or suffer the death penalty. They knew he meant it. At the end of the decree, he added: "And likewise under said penalty all the Indians captains of the pueblos are to come." [94]

Bishop Juan de Palafox
Bishop Juan de Palafox, viceroy in 1642, Francisco Sánchez Castaner, Don Juan de Palafox (Zaragoza, 1964)

Evidently a delegation from Pecos was there in the crowd on the feast of St. Ann, July 26. Before the governor and the royal standard, there appeared, in the words of the official account,

all the vassals, citizens, and residents of these provinces, likewise the prelate, his definitorium, and the rest of the guardians, and all the principal caciques of the settlements, as proof of loyalty and of the true obedience owed the Royal Majesty. In compliance with the general pardon published by the crier all those who were accomplices of the executed leaders asked for acquittal and immunity, by virtue of which said lord governor ordered issued for their favor and pardon certificates in due form. He also ordered continuation of payment to the thirty soldiers who have enlisted to maintain obedience and the public peace of these provinces. [95]

Still, the sheep refused to lie down with the lion. Inside a month, Governor Pacheco had threatened Custos Covarrubias with banishment or worse if he did not consent to the reburial of a body in the Santa Fe church, the same excommunicate body, since removed, that Father Vidania had let in three and a half years before. The aggrieved relatives of the eight executed men filed criminal charges against Pacheco. Ordered to investigate the conduct of the clergy in New Mexico, the well-respected procurator-general Fray Tomás Manso chose witnesses who whitewashed the friars and damned the memory of Rosas and Vidania. There had been no rebellion, vowed Manso. There had been open rebellion, countered Pacheco. [96]

"Map of the Kingdom of New Mexico dedicated to Señor don Francisco Antonio Marín del Valle, governor and captain general of said kingdom, by don Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, showing the provinces that surround it, enemy and peaceful," c. 1760 (Colleción de Orozco y Berra, no. 1148). The allegorical figure in the upper lefthand corner is the pope being drawn in his coach by the lions of Castile. Courtesy of the Dirección General de Geografín y Meteorolgía, Tacubaya, D. F., Mexico

"Dance and dress of the Indians of New Mexico." Detail from the Miera map, c. 1760.

"Dress of the Faraón Apaches and their manner of fighting against the Spaniards." Judging from his fancy outfit and trappings, the Spaniard in the foreground may be Governor Marín. Detail from the Miera map, c. 1760.

"Dress of the Comanches" and the El Paso district. The note says that New Mexico's jurisdiction extends thirty leagues farther south. Detail from the Miera map, c. 1760.

Northeastern New Mexico. The note reads: "All these lands on this side of the mountains and their rivers are dominated by Comanches, who invade said kingdom plundering and murdering. They are extremely skillful in horsemanship and use of firearms, which they get from the French nation. The Apache nations also wage vigorous war to the south." Detail from the Miera map, c. 1760.

The Specter of Pueblo Revolt

Nothing had changed. The small ruling minority in New Mexico, far from the seat of authority, remained polarized by self-interest and fear around the office of the governor or the Franciscan-dominated church. At issue, as always, was social and economic control of the Pueblo Indians. Both factions within the Hispanic community recognized the growing danger of Pueblo revolt. The Zuñis, the Jémez, and the Taos had made certain of that. What blinded governors and friars alike was the inability of either faction, in the context of their struggle, to admit any share of the blame.

When the friars of the custody convened at Santo Domingo in 1644, their major concern was defense against the calumny that had made them traitors in the eyes of king and council. They underscored the adverse effect of the Rosas tyranny on the Pueblo Indians, "who are for certain the best Indians in the world." Considering the grinding oppression and indignity these poor natives had suffered at the hands of governors and encomenderos, "even to taking away their children and selling them," it was truly, the friars contended, "a miracle that they have not killed us all." [97]

It was a miracle, to be sure. But in the stifling paternalism of their missions, the friars also wrought oppression and indignity.

When Fray Andrés Juárez, dean of New Mexico missionaries in 1647, addressed the king, he laid the blame as usual to self-serving governors. "May I be cursed of God if they have kept a single command of Your Majesty." They were the scourge of the land, despoiling Indians and colonists, provoking the Apaches, and interfering in the missions. The past governor, don Fernando de Argüello, for selfish reasons of his own, had rebuked a friar for having an Indian whipped. If the missionary tried it again, said the governor, the Indians should shoot him with arrows. As a result of such blatant discord between secular and religious authority, and the continual exploitation, the Pueblos, alleged Juárez, were no longer obeying their friars and were returning to idolatry. [98]

stone figures
Pecos human effigies, tallest 3". Kidder, Artifacts.

If the Pueblos were stirring under the whip of mission discipline, it was not alone because the governors interfered, but also because the whip stung.

They had already begun plotting. Governor Argüello, 1644 to 1647, "had twenty-nine Indians hanged in the pueblo of the Jémez as traitors and confederates of the Apaches." In 1650, a revolt, reportedly involving Jémez, Keres, Southern Tiwas, and Apaches, aborted. The Pueblos had arranged to hand over to the Apaches the Spaniards' horse herds, thereby immobilizing their oppressors for the kill. The plan was "to attack in all districts on the night of Holy Thursday, because the Spaniards would then be assembled." But word leaked out. "Many Indians were arrested from most of the pueblos of this kingdom. As a result nine leaders were hanged and many others were sold as slaves for ten years." [99]

Despite the setback of the Rosas years and the ominous stirring of the Pueblos, the friars rallied during the 1650s. Their Sonora adventure, begun in 1645 when five friars went among the northern Opatas, ended in 1651 or 1652 after Franciscans and alarmed Jesuits worked out a compromise withdrawal, but only after the friars, had harvested a considerable crop of souls. During the fifties, the custody finally acted to found missions for the Manso and Suma Indians at El Paso and to the southwest. They stayed well on their side of the line agreed upon with the Jesuits. In 1657, the viceroy approved the Franciscans' bid for twenty missionaries to bring the New Mexico custody up to full quota, plus four extras to minister to Mansos and Sumas.

They would need all the strength they could muster. Another governor, the devious don Bernardo López de Mendizábal, rode north in the same caravan, "another Rosas." [100]

The Pecos Bide Time

For twenty years no one mentioned Pecos, or so it appears from the documents that survive. From the time of Rosas, who interested himself unduly in the pueblo's trade, to that of López de Mendizábal, who took office in 1659, it was as if Pecos had ceased to exist. This long silence reveals, if nothing else, a certain unobtrusiveness on the part of the people. If some of them abandoned the pueblo or took part in the conspiracy of 1650, the Pecos, unlike the Taos or Jémez, did so unnoticed.

Even the names of their missionaries have vanished. From Antonio de Ibargaray, who sat down at Pecos and wrote the viceroy in 1636, and Brother Antonio Jiménez, confined there briefly by Rosas in 1638, to ex-custos Juan Gonzalez, serving the mission in 1660, the rolls are blank. [101] Afraid for his life in 1640, the Pecos missionary probably moved in with the others at Santo Domingo. Although Pecos may have been relegated for a time to a preaching station of Santa Fe or Galisteo, it is not likely that the friars left such a prominent pueblo or such a fine church and convento unattended for long.

A listing and census of the missions, evidently compiled in 1641, contains the following entry for the Pueblo de los Pecos:

it has a very good church, provision for public worship, órgano, and choir. There are 1,189 souls under its administration. [102]

Pecos was listed eighth. The compiler, who had described five of the previous churches as "very good," and the others as not so good, began to color his descriptions on down the line. The churches at Chililí and Isleta were "very fine (excelentísima)," the one at Jémez "splendid (grandiosa)," at Sandia "excellent (excelente)," at Ácoma "exceedingly handsome (hermosísima)," and the one the Indians had wrecked at Taos "a handsome temple (un hermoso templo)." The slight to Fray Andrés Juárez' magnificent monument at Pecos was the result not of the compiler's careful appraisal of architecture, but rather of his elegant variation of adjectives. He also forgot to mention the convento.

The órgano, shown at Pecos and at sixteen other missions, was probably a small cabinet organ. Extant mission supply lists show shawms, bassoons, and trumpets, but no organs. Such organs could have been made in New Mexico, and destroyed in the revolt of 1680. On the other hand, the same word can also mean canto de órgano, or polyphonic music. It could be that all these missions, like some of them during the time of Benavides, had Indians choirs trained in polyphony. [103]

Population Decline

But the poignant thing about this brief entry is the population. Most of the entries are expressed in round numbers, some of them obvious estimates. The figure for Pecos seems to be the result of an actual count, or of a devious friar. If we set aside the pious chroniclers like Benavides and Vetancurt, who kept the number of Pecos steady at "more than two thousand" through most of the century, the decline is appalling.

Father Juárez, who should have known, put the population of Pecos at "two thousand souls or a few less" in 1622. If the 1641 figure is accurate at 1,189—and if both include children—the loss is about forty percent in twenty years. Late in 1694, the count, which definitely included children, was down to 736. In human terms, where three Pecos had lived in 1622, only two lived in 1641, and only one in 1694. [104]

The ministry of Fray Andrés Juárez, 1622 to 1635, was formative in the "Christianization" of Pecos. Digging in the ruins three hundred years later, the astute A. V. Kidder recognized this fact without even knowing the friar's name.

It was probably 1620 or 1630 before domestic animals, china dishes and metal implements became common enough to find their way into the refuse in quantity and so to mark, for the excavator, the beginning of European influence. [105]

That influence, the Pecos now knew, meant more than sheep and flowered plates and trade knives. Much more.

After Códice Azcatitlan, central Mexico, 16th century.

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