West is an interrupted dream. Different groups of people that have come
to the West have interrupted the natural evolution of the groups they
found there. And so we have a constant meeting in the West, a constant
migration and meeting of groups. And the real story, I think, lies in
how those groups affect each other."
By 1680, the Spanish were firmly in control of most of the pueblos of the Southwest. Each pueblo had built its own church and priests had baptized thousands of Indians. The Spanish had established a colony they called New Mexico, centered around its capital, Santa Fe.
indigenous peoples on their side saw what the Spaniards offered as just
another power to add to their own. They conceded readily that the Spaniards
must be very powerful people because they had guns, they had horses. So
they were happy enough to add the Spanish saints -- but without replacing
their own, without giving up the visions and dreams of their own forebears.
This is what the friars would have nothing of. For the friars it was their
way or no way at all."
European diseases had already killed a third of the Pueblo peoples, and years of drought, famine and enemy raids had taken a further toll. All these misfortunes coming together convinced a priest of the Tewa pueblo, called Popé, that the ancient spirits were displeased. He began preaching that the foreigners must be driven out.
The Spanish redoubled their efforts to blot out the Pueblo’s traditional faith. Ritual dances were forbidden, religious objects burned. Twice, the Spanish had Popé flogged publicly, but they could not silence him. Finally, forty-seven Pueblo religious leaders were imprisoned in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe for speaking out against the Spanish. Three were hanged.
Popé began traveling from village to village, spreading his message that the Pueblo people must forget their long-standing differences, band together, and rid themselves of Spain. On a prearranged day, pueblos across New Mexico rose up, burning Spanish property and leveling churches. Twenty-one priests were killed. So were at least 400 settlers. The survivors found sanctuary in Santa Fe, huddled inside the Palace of the Governors, where twenty-five hundred Indians surrounded them, cut off their water, burned the rest of the capital, and sang the Catholic liturgy in Latin to mock them.
After eleven days of siege, the surviving Spanish fought their way out and fled to Mexico. The Indians did not pursue them.
was the whole object of the revolt, to get the hated Spaniards to leave,
and when they achieved that objective they sat back and were content.
For the moment it was enough that the land was theirs again, that they could once again practice their faith without fear of punishment. Popé had led the most successful Indian revolt in all of North American history.
But Indian independence did not last long. In 1692, Spaniards reconquered the pueblos, and in time grew more tolerant of Indian religion. Indians and Spaniards began to intermarry.
of two world views coming together with completely different conceptions
of the universe and of nature. A lot of times when we speak of the meeting
of cultures, we forget that beyond the initial clash emerges a new view
of the world. And I think that's what we Chicanos represent today."
Program | People | Places
| Events | Resources | Lesson
Plans | Quiz|
© 2001 THE WEST FILM PROJECT and WETA