Column: Pueblos persevere after 1680 revolt
"When Juan de Oñate initiated the Spanish colonization of New Mexico in 1598, his settlers and missionaries encountered some 100 Indian pueblos occupying the area.

Many of these native villages were concentrated in a fertile 215-mile stretch of the Rio Grande Valley, extending from Taos on the north to the Piro pueblos in the vicinity of Socorro.

Estimates of the total Pueblo population at this time range widely. But a good guess would probably be something around 60,000 (excluding the Hopi far to the west).

From 1600 up to the great Pueblo Revolt of 1680, some villages were abandoned because of drought or raids by enemy tribes from the plains. Notable examples were the communities on the eastern skirt of the Manzano Mountains, entirely depopulated in the 1670s. Their ruins and those of Spanish missions are now included within Salinas National Monument.

It was the revolt against Spanish rule, however, that led to catastrophic decline in both the number of villages and in overall population. Indeed, according to one scholar, Pueblo population was reduced by 5,000 through battle deaths and flight from the region.

The Indians responded in various ways. For example, smaller villages that no longer had enough people to maintain a viable economy or ceremonial life simply abandoned their homes and joined a larger or more stable pueblo."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: The numerous and fascinating stories of New Mexico pueblos (The Santa Fe New Mexican 6/29)

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