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 8: Pecos, the Plains, and the Provincias Internas, 1704-1794

The trade that the French are developing with the Comanches by means of the Jumanos will in time result in grave injury to this province. Although the Comanche nation carries on a like trade with us, coming to the pueblo of Taos, where they hold their fairs and trade in skins and Indians of various nations, whom they enslave in their wars, for horses, mares, mules, hunting knives, and other trifles, always, whenever the occasion offers for stealing horses or attacking the pueblos of Pecos and Galisteo, they do not pass it up. Indeed, during the five-year term of don Joaquín Codallos, my predecessor, the number of Pecos who perished at their hands reached one hundred and fifty.

They have such a grudge against these two pueblos that I find it necessary to garrison them with thirty presidial soldiers and to keep scouts out, so that by detecting them in time they can warn me and sally to meet them. . . . I have fortified these two pueblos of Pecos and Galisteo with earthworks and towers at the gates capable of defending them against these enemies, since the presidio cannot always keep the garrison there because it has many places to cover.

Gov. Tomás Vélez Cachupín to the viceroy, Santa Fe,
March 8, 1750

cartoon figures
Details from Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco's 1758 map.

Gateway Pueblo

The plains had always been a paradox. At once a source of riches, of hides and meat and ideas, and of death, of thieves and raiders, the benefits to the Pecos had long outweighed the detriments. Sad for them, as for the Saline pueblos before them, the scales reversed in the eighteenth century.

By 1750, their vital locale at the gateway between pueblos and plains had become a curse instead of a blessing. Sorely weakened by internal dissension and emigration, by pestilence, warfare, and interruption of trade, the "citadel" that once fielded five hundred warriors and struck fear into neighboring peoples now depended for defense on Spanish military aid and diplomacy. Not that the Pecos fighters had gone soft. They were just too few.

As late as the 1690s, it can be argued that the Pecos held the balance of power, that without their aid, Diego de Vargas might well have lost New Mexico. Vargas said almost as much himself, and he rewarded the Pecos accordingly. Yet with the death of the two enduring Pecos dons, Felipe Chistoe in the mid-1720s and Juan Tindé in 1730, that era passed. A half-century later when Juan Bautista de Anza rode down to Pecos to negotiate a peace and save New Mexico from the ravages of invasion, it was not a Pecos he embraced, but a Comanche.

Comanche feats of horsemanship, a painting by George Catlin, 1834. Catlin, North American Indians, II

By dint of its location, the pueblo of the Pecos maintained a strategic importance despite its declining population. The Spaniards could not afford to lose it. Otherwise, Santa Fe lay open from the southern plains. The place, then, became more important than the people, a shift reflected even in the Spaniards' name for the pueblo. At the beginning of the century they invariably called it el pueblo de los Pecos, the pueblo of the Pecos people. Later it became simply el pueblo de Pecos, Pecos pueblo, the place.

More and more the significance of Pecos was seen in its relationship to Hispanic Santa Fe. Daring Frenchmen who blazed "the Santa Fe Trail" in the 1730s and 1740s thanked God to reach Pecos, but they did not stop there. Those imperial strategists in Mexico City and Madrid who conceived defense plans embracing the entire northern "provincias internas," from the Mississippi Valley to the Californias, could see that a road from San Antonio or from St. Louis struck the province of New Mexico at Pecos. It was a port of entry. Then, in the very last years of the century, with the settlement of San Miguel del Vado at the river crossing ten leagues east, even that distinction was lost.

"Map of the country Lt. Col. don Juan Bautista de Anza, governor and proprietary commander of this Province of New Mexico, traversed and discovered during the campaign he made against the Comanches and the victory he won over the enemy," 1779, presumably by Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco (AGI, Torres Lanzas, México, 577). The campaign tents mark camp sites, the two banners battle sites. Courtesy of the Archivo General de Indias, Sevilla, Spain

The Pecos as Auxiliaries

The Pecos did not fade overnight. The Spaniards continued to think of them very much as people, albeit exploitable second-class people, well into the eighteenth century, as long as their pueblo remained a major center of trade with the Plains Indians, as long as Pecos auxiliaries fought at their side.

Until the 1730s, the Pecos on any given campaign were likely to outnumber the fighting men from any other pueblo. Routinely, Fray José de Arranegui noted on July 1, 1702, the death of Francisco Fuu, husband of María Tugoguchuru, killed by the Jumanos "when Gov. Pedro Rodríguez Cubero sent out 56 Indians from this pueblo." Early in the spring of 1704, don Felipe Chistoe and forty-six Pecos answered the call for what proved to be Diego de Vargas' last campaign, three times as many men as from any other pueblo. A decade later, Governor Flores Mogollón dispatched a much larger force into the same area against the same foe, into the Sierra de Sandía against Faraón Apaches. This time, of the 321 auxiliaries summoned from fifteen pueblos to the rendezvous at Santo Domingo, one hundred were Pecos. Zia with thirty-six was second. [1]

They must have gone out on dozens of such campaigns. There were almost certainly Pecos with Sargento mayor Juan de Ulibarrí in 1706 on his touted trip to El Cuartelejo, more than a hundred leagues northeast of Santa Fe. Again that year, word had reached the villa from the Picurís remnant who had fled from Vargas back in 1696 and since then had been living among the "Cuartelejo Apaches." They wanted to come home. In response, Governor Cuervo y Valdés charged Ulibarrí to ransom them and escort them back.

Ulibarrí, Cuervo's alcalde mayor of Pecos and newly refounded Galisteo, named Capt. José Trujillo substitute alcalde for the duration, bolstered his forty Hispanos with a hundred Indian auxiliaries "from the pueblos and missions of this kingdom," and set out north from Santa Fe in mid-July. In seven weeks he was back. Not only had he seen El Cuartelejo and entered into friendly relations with the local Apaches, but he had also learned of Frenchmen among their enemies, the Pawnees, and had taken possession of this delightful region for Spain. Moreover, he had "liberated" the famous leaders don Lorenzo and don Juan Tupatú and some sixty Picurís, a few of whom settled at Pecos. [2]

Comanche feats of horsemanship, after a painting by George Catlin, 1834. Catlin, North American Indians, II

Faraón Apaches as Friends and Foes

Whoever the Pharaoh, or Faraón, Apaches were to the Spaniards, they cannot have been so confused in the minds of the Pecos. Perhaps at times, the same Apache band did alternately raid and trade at Pecos. More likely, it was the Spaniards' loose classification, their admission that "they all look alike," that made the Faraones the special friends of the Pecos one minute and the foes of Pecos auxiliaries the next.

There is no doubt from the Vargas journals that certain Plains Apaches, sometimes labeled Faraones, reestablished trade at Pecos during the 1690s, a trade they maintained into the 1730s, at least until the Comanches convulsed the southern plains. It is also clear from burial entries at Pecos and from other sources that other Apaches, also termed Faraones, preyed on the Pecos during this same period.

They struck any time of year without warning. Diego Sunchan, a married man, died in July 1697 a quarter-league from the pueblo when "the Apaches slit his throat" or decapitated him. On March 6, 1701, Father Arranegui buried Pedro Pui, about twenty-four, an orphan, "killed by the Apaches at the river." He buried four more victims, one a woman, in the spring of 1703. In August 1704, Apaches killed Francisco Antonio "and brought in his body." The body of Francisco Guatori, unmarried, the fourth death attributed to Apaches in 1705, "did not turn up, only his bones." Because of a lost book, the burial record at Pecos breaks off abruptly early in 1706 not to resume until mid-1727. Meantime, in 1711, the Marqués de la Peñuela asked the Pecos to confirm that he had responded with soldiers "when their enemies the Apaches have done them harm, as he did when they killed don Pedro, native governor of the pueblo, and Lt. Col. Juan Páez Hurtado went in pursuit." [3]

If the Spaniards were confused, the Pecos themselves made a clear distinction between the Faraones of the plains and the Faraones who regularly took refuge in the Sierra de Sandía. The latter they branded "thieving Indian pirates" and murderers. In August of 1714, while many of the Pecos men were on campaign in the Sandías, seven Apaches, identified by the Pecos themselves as members of the Sandía band, showed up at the pueblo. A couple of older men and five women and children, this was no war party. No matter, the Pecos were for killing them on the spot. José de Apodaca, agent of Alcalde mayor and master blacksmith Sebastián de Vargas, said no. He notified Vargas who came down from Santa Fe and took this motley bunch back with him to appear before Governor Flores.

cartoon drawing of Natives
Mounted Pueblo (?) Indian auxiliaries versus unidentified Apaches. After an 18th-century painting on hide (Segesser I) in Gottfried Hotz, Indian Skin Paintings from the American Southwest (Norman, 1970).

Agustín, a Pecos who knew both the Apaches' language and Spanish, interpreted, hardly an impartial officer of the court. Through him, all the Apaches told different stories. Their captain had sent them to see if the Pecos were alert because others were coming to steal. They had come peacefully seeking food. They wanted to trade. They had come from the Cerro de las Gallinas beyond the Sandías. They had come from the Cerro de las Cebollas. There were twenty tents with their captain. There were two women with their captain. With that, interpreter Agustín "stated that he had told the truth and just what the Apaches had said, neither adding nor omitting a thing."

A couple of days later don Juan Tindé and several of his people stood before the governor to explain why they had wanted to kill these Apaches. Felipe Chistoe interpreted for those who did not speak Spanish. All agreed. These Faraones had killed a Pecos during the time of Governor Cuervo y Valdés (1705-1707). Besides, "they are thieving Indian pirates who make their base in the Sierra de Sandía from which they sally forth to rob horses and cattle from the pueblo of Galisteo, said pueblo of Pecos, Santo Domingo, Bernalillo, and other ranchos." Even the Apaches who came in peace to trade at Pecos knew the Faraones of the Sandías to be bad horse-stealing Indians.

Governor Flores did not vacillate. He sentenced the two adult males to work on an ore crusher where they were to be kept shackled to prevent their return to thievery. He gave an old woman to a citizen of Santa Cruz de la Cañada. The remaining two women and two boys were to be sold in Sonora or elsewhere to persons who would try to make Christians of them. The governor accepted Alfonso Rael de Aguilar's offer to buy them and transport them out of New Mexico for two hundred pesos, a sum he promptly distributed as follows: fifty pesos to the Third Order of St. Francis, fifty to Alcalde mayor Vargas for bringing in the Apaches, twenty-five to the governor's secretary for his services, and the remainder to the honest poor. [4]

A year later when the governor held councils of war to consider a punitive expedition against raiding Plains Apaches, called variously Chipaynes (sometimes Chilpaines or Chipaindes), Limitas, Trementinas, or Faraones, the native governor of Taos pointed out a conflict of interest. The Pecos, he said, should not be allowed to go. They and these Faraones were virtually one people. Back when the Pecos were reduced, this Taos averred, the Faraones had left them and fled out onto the plains. Since then, these fugitives had been wont to mingle during the trading at Pecos and then, on leaving, to steal from the district of Santa Cruz de la Cañada, from Picurís and Taos, and from the friendly Jicarilla Apaches who came to trade at Taos. Naturally the Pecos would warn their old partners. Capt. Félix Martínez also objected to the Pecos going, but for a different reason. With the presidio undermanned and the Pecos auxiliaries out on campaign, he thought the Faraones might circle round and attack the weakened pueblo.

But the Pecos did go, thirty of them under Chistoe and Tindé "with muskets." And they took the blame. The whole force, 37 soldiers, 18 settlers, and 146 Pueblo auxiliaries, commanded by Juan Páez Hurtado, left from Picurís on August 30, 1715, picked up Jicarilla allies en route, and ended up on the Río Colorado, the Canadian of today, only to discover that the Apaches they were after had decamped. With supplies running low they turned back. "I presume," wrote the disappointed Páez about his vanished enemy, "that from the trading conducted at Pecos they got word that the Spaniards were coming after them."

Not only did the Páez fiasco reveal the heated rivalry between Taos and its regular Apache trading partners on the one hand and Pecos and its Plains "Faraón" partners on the other, but it also said something about the Pecos. Plainly they knew one Faraón from another. [5]

hunter with horse
A cibolero, or buffalo hunter, painted on a wooden panel from a house at Santa Cruz de la Cañada. Redrawn by Jerry L. Livingston. After Boyd, Popular Arts
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