Jemez State Monument in New Mexico

The 8th Annual Commemoration of Pueblo Independence Day

Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan
8/13/11

On August 10, 1680, the Pueblo Indians, with help from the Apache and Navajo tribes, launched a successful rebellion against Spanish colonization called the Pueblo Revolt.

“The revolt was the first Native American revolt against Europeans so successful that it pushed the Spaniards back to Mexico,” said Claudia Gallardo de Campbell, Instructional Coordinator for the New Mexico State Monuments.

To commemorate this event the Jemez State Monument in Jemez Spring, New Mexico, will be hosting its 8th Annual Commemoration of Pueblo Independence Day on Sunday, August 14 from 7 am- 3 pm.

“This is one of the main events most Pueblo people see as significant,” said Marlon Magdalena, planner and organizer of the event. “It helped keep our culture and language from going extinct. If our ancestors didn’t do anything our language would have been more suppressed.”

With the arrival of Juan de Oñate in 1598, Spain assumed authority over Pueblo peoples. Spanish officials forced Pueblos to conform to the economically imbalanced encomienda and repartimiento systems, under which Pueblos were forced to pay tribute to the Spanish government, according to the New Mexico Office of the State Historian website.

In addition, the Franciscans set up a series of missions among the Pueblos with the expectation that they would abandon their religious beliefs for Christianity, according to the New Mexico Office of the State Historian website.

“Spaniards brought new ways of living, they brought farming techniques, and some Pueblos saw it as a advantage (to convert to Christianity) while others didn’t want to, they were happy with the way they were living,” said Magdalena.

The Pueblo people’s traditional centers of worship known as kivas were destroyed along with kachinas, the sacramental objects with which their ceremonies and devotions had always been performed. Resistance to Spanish rule was met with imprisonment, torture, and amputations, according to AmericanJourneys.org.

The Pueblo people tolerated Spanish presence for generations, but that soon changed.

“Finally people stood up and said this isn’t right we shouldn’t have to be told how to live our lives and endure pain and suffering,” Magdalena said.

In preparation of the revolt, Pueblo people established a system of communication (there are different dialects of the Pueblo language) to notify each other of the revolt, said Gallardo de Campbell.

The system was a cord with knots tied in it. Runners were sent to different pueblos with the cord and once they arrived at a pueblo a knot was untied. Then another set of runners were sent to another pueblo until everyone was notified, said Magdalena.

However, the Europeans found out about the Pueblo people’s plan for the revolt from Pueblos who had converted to Christianity. Runners were captured on their way to a pueblo. The Pueblos then rescheduled the revolt for a day later.

To honor the runners the event will begin with a pilgrimage run at 7 am from Walatowa plaza in Jemez Pueblo to Gisewa Pueblo kiva at Jemez State Monument, according to a press release. The run will be 13 miles.

“With the run we are able to reconnect with our ancestors and show that we are still connected to this place (Jemez State Monument),” said Magdalena. “If we are able to reclaim the land one day we can say we have been running to that place and prove that it is scared to us.”

The Jemez State Monument is one of the oldest ruins dating back to the 1500’s said Gallardo de Campbell. There is also an old Spanish mission called San Jose de los Jemez dating to 1610 located at the monument.

“It is an important location because it shows the first contact with Native and European people and it is evidence of them living together,” said Gallardo de Campbell.

The event will include guest speakers, Jemez traditional dances, Native American flute music, Native food and arts and crafts.

There is no admission fee for any of the activities. For more information visit www.nmmonuments.org or call 575-829-3530.

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