Sifting through Sources: What Really Caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680?
“Every piece of written history starts when somebody becomes curious and asks questions.” In Weber’s compilation he gathers several of these curious peoples works and binds their writings together to form a sort of continued discussion. Arguing from different sources and coming from different backgrounds, they indubitably arrive at different conclusions. From Garner to Gutiérrez and from Chávez to Knaut, they all are part of a continued dialogue on what that caused the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
By addressing the readings as a sum instead of individual accounts, one can gain a more detailed view. While some poke holes in others theories, most of the time, the writers simply offer different perspectives. The vast range of the arguments speak to the difficulty of the topic. Examining an event (or series of events, as the case may be) 300 years ago is an arduous task, but trying to determine causation of such events is even more cumbersome. Typically numerous factors exist and to give these factors any sort of rankings requires a fair bit of perspiration on the part of the researcher. This essay will attempt to evaluate this eclectic mix of commentaries to sift out the strong arguments from the weak.
In 1598, when Juan de Oñate arrived in northern New Mexico with a small group of colonists to Pueblo country, Spain demanded payment of tribute and the friars demanded allegiance of religion. For over 80 years Spanish lived with Pueblo before the revolt - multiple generations. As Knaut points out, that as “colonists were isolated from the south in a land where indigenous inhabitants numbered in the tens of thousands”, meaning there was plenty of contact between the two groups. Within that time families intermarried, and a large mestizo population arose, creating an intersection in the Venn diagram of early New Mexico. What Knaut argues in Acculturation and Miscegenation is not necessarily as hard as the others to prove who or what caused the revolt, but rather works in earnest to present what he sees as the creation of a mixed culture, with syncretism occurring on both sides. Perhaps in this essay more questions that answers are created... why after 82 years of living together would the Pueblos revolt?
Garner has a more direct answer to this question. He, unlike Knaut, does not spend as much time underlining the syncretism that occurs, but spends more time examining the relationship between Pueblo and Franciscan, and reigning in the perhaps unfair harshness of previous works in relation to the government. Garner believed that drought, famine and Apache raids caused the revolt, shedding the competing notions that religious incompatibility or having a suitable leader as primary causes.
The two arguments in the proceeding articles before Garner - that religion was the primary cause - fall flat from Garner’s lens. In one instance, he cites the friction between Father Isidro Ordonez and Governor Pedro de Peralta as a result of the governments unfair treatment of the Indian. Peralta eventually decides to have Ordonez arrested, but the colonists (or ecomenderos) proceed to abandon the governor. Garner goes on that governors of early New Mexico are interpreted in a negative light primarily because “documents are strongly biased against them.” He explains that the reason that these documents are so biased is because of the natural tension between the writers of these records, the Franciscans, and those whom they wrote about, the governors. Garner continues to impress that the Franciscans were the friend to the Indian and foe to the governor. He cites Scholes who states, “the religious and economic motives of empire were antagonistic if not essentially incompatible.”
Having earlier established a different relationship structure than what was typically seen, (a shift from the Hispanic-Pueblo dichotomy to a more complex...
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