Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

American -- the Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico by Andrew L. Knaut

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

American -- the Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico by Andrew L. Knaut

Article excerpt

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance In Seventeenth-Century New Mexico. By Andrew L. Knaut. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 1995. Pp. xx, 248. $29.95 clothbound.)

Concise, lively, and well-crafted, this retelling has much more to say about development of the seventeenth-century Spanish colony than about its stunning climax of 1680. But by what other title would the book grab greater attention?

Knaut aspires to reinterpret. Skillfully utilizing available printed primary and most standard secondary sources, he attempts "to glean the Pueblo role in shaping the history of seventeenth-century New Mexico and in carrying out successfully the revolt of 1680" (pp. xiv-xv). The Pueblo Indians we not, he reassures us, passive pawns manipulated for three generations by culturally superior Europeans until, abused beyond endurance, they exploded in 1680. Instead, in diverse ways, they resisted colonization from the beginning, adeptly exploiting dissension within the Hispanic community and subtly influencing its culturally isolated members. These are valid points, but I think Knaut goes too far.

The author cannot imagine Pueblo Indians accepting "the bitter pill of conversion" (p. 77) or "the Spanish and Franciscan yoke" (p. 86) for any but practical reasons of food supply or military protection. He approves the natives' defense and continued clandestine practice of their own rich sacred tradition, yet fails to consider where it came from. Who were the kachinas? Earlier, Pueblo peoples had accepted spiritual concepts that worked their way up from Mesoamerica. To exalt their descendants' resistance to Spanish imposition of a further wave of religious ideas denies the Pueblos credit for accepting anything on spiritual grounds.

Although their population declined by at least fifty percent during the period 1598 to 1680, the Pueblo Indians still vastly outnumbered the multi-racial Hispanic community. …

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