History

Prehistory

The history of the culture and society, in what is now New Mexico, dates back to the Clovis culture, Folsom tradition, Indigenous peoples of the Great Basin, including the Mogollon culture, Ancient Puebloans, and Hohokam from 15,000 BC until the Year of the Lord, 0 AD. Ancient structures in New Mexico are related to these peoples, including those at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

During the years 0 to 1000 AD, the main cultures were continuations of Ancient Pueblo peoples, and the Modified Basketmaker cultures up until the 500 AD. Most of the ancient Puebloans abandoned their original settlements in 1000AD. The Pojoaque first did this in 500AD, with the many others following well into the 1200AD, including the past, present, and future Pueblos; the Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Pot Creek’s Taos and Picuris Pueblo, San Ildefonso, Sandia, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo/Kewa, Tesuque, and the Zia Pueblos. The Nambé were the last of the pueblos to do this prior to the Spanish arrival. And, several of these Pueblos, which are still around today, make up some of the oldest continually inhabited places within the United States.From that point on, the Pueblo cultures took the majority hold from the developmental period through to the Great Pueblo era. The Zuni are related to both Mogollon and the Ancient Puebloans, and have inhabited their land since 1000BC. The Athabaskan people, that form the modern Navajo and Apache, became very prevalent during the time of the Great Pueblo era, and they comprised of many groups, such as the Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache, as well as the Navajo. Each of these distinct nomadic groups of Athabaskan peoples had different alignments and feelings towards the Europeans.

The Pueblo Era and the Arrival of Europeans

The first half of the first millennium, is referred to as the Pueblo II Era. This continued until the Rio Grande Classic Period from 1325 AD onward. The first major European group, the Spanish colonists, became moderate allies with the Pueblo and some Athabaskan tribes. They all had a common enemies with unfriendly Athabaskan tribes. This already complicated relationship was further complicated by Spanish intervention by the greater Spanish Empire, often Spanish colonists had a hard time explaining their relationship with the natives to the empire. The Empire instituted heavy-handed laws, and aggressive attempts at instituting Spanish customs, laws, and taxation.

Excerpt from the Albuquerque Tricentennial Teachers Resource Guide

Captain Hernándo de Alvarado described 12 pueblos in present-day Albuquerque: “The houses are made of mud, two stories high. The people seem good, more given to farming than to war. They have provisions of maize, beans, melons and fowl in great abundance. They dress in cotton, (buffalo) skins, and coats made with the feathers…”

Another soldier in 1580 described the people of the Albuquerque area: “They make tortillas and corn flour gruel (atole), have buffalo meat and turkeys – they have large numbers of the latter.” Every family had a pen with at least 100 turkeys in it. The people wore cotton blankets and tended large fields of cotton. They kept many small, shaggy dogs, which they kept in underground pens.

The Pueblo Revolt

Whether or not the Spanish colonists liked it, continuing pressure from the rest of New Spain and Spanish Empire eventually brought the subjugation of the Pueblo and the Athabaskan peoples. Whereas the Spanish colonists had been forming friendships and even romantic relationships with the natives, while trading ideas, customs, and cultures; the Spanish Empire heavily enforced their laws, including a forced labor system (repartimiento), forced trade (encomienda), and they banned of non-Catholic religious ceremonies. Several of the Pueblos came together under the uniting leader Popé, who eventually led to the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. The revolt was the only successful revolt by a Native American group against European conquest. Some 400 Spanish were killed, while nearly 2,000 fled to El Paso, Texas. The Pueblo Troops allowed the colonists to leave without harassment to El Paso, but the Spanish leaders that had attempted to destroy their ancient culture were executed. Under the rule of Popé, the Pueblos became self-governing, like they had been before Spanish colonization. However, most resisted returning to a pre-Spanish lifestyle, in response Popé prohibited the Spanish language and Christianity; in response the Pueblo, who were unkind to any form of despotic rule, eventually deposed of him as a ruler.

The after-effects of the Revolt were very influential on New Mexican culture. In 1692, the Spanish returned to reestablish the Santa Fe de Nuevo México. However, relations between Spanish, Pueblos, and other allied Athabaskan peoples, was far different. The dreaded encomienda system, a.k.a. forced trade, was prohibited in New Mexico, Franciscan priests were not to interfere with Pueblo or Athabaskan religious practices as they were non-violent in nature, and their soldiers and warriors became allies in the fight against their common enemies, unfriendly Athabaskans, Utes, and a new threat, the Comanche. This is why New Mexico became a blend of Spanish and Pueblo culture, with some Athabaskan symbolism, and laws prohibiting slavery and encouraging religious freedoms. Pueblo and Spanish towns received land grants throughout the 1600s and 1700s, among those town were Santa Fe and Albuquerque. These precedents would be increasingly important as New Mexico entered the 1700s as anti-European sentiment swept throughout the New World colonies, and as the dawning of America and Mexico began to take hold.

Territorial Phase

Prior to being a Mexican state, New Mexico had been a colony of New Spain for nearly 250 years. After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Spanish were only able to return the territory in 1692, and instituted laws allowing for religious tolerance towards Pueblo ceremonies as long as they were “outwardly Christian”, the Spanish also made forced labor and forced trade illegal, and developed a system for appropriate representation from Pueblo and Spanish towns. These laws were maintained as New Mexico became an Mexican territory, the United States at first attempted to annex all land east of the Rio Grande away from New Mexico, Mexican troops aided to stop the siege of land. However the Mexican government had been unable to maintain a peace between the Nomadic Native American tribes, such as the Navajo. In fact several actions by the Mexican government caused the finally peaceful relationship to end between New Mexico, the Apache, and the Navajo. The Mexican-American War began in the backdrop of raids from Apache and Navajo troops. Mexico made several attempts to attack newer American settlements throughout New Mexico, however this left the old Spanish towns and Pueblos open to attack from the Apache and Navajo. Eventually the older Spanish towns and Pueblos sided with the United States under the promise of greater protections from the Athabaskan raids. After the Mexican-American war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, which granted land-grants to the Spanish towns, as well as Mexican and American settlers, alongside recognition of the old Spanish land-grants to the Pueblo.

The American Civil War

The precedence of these prior events became paramount as the United States entered Civil War. The “New Mexico Campaign”, one of the key campaigns during the American Civil War, between the Confederacy and the Union. Texas, under the Confederacy, attempted to again capture New Mexican land; the Confederacy also attempted to bring slavery into the Territory. Since slavery had already been illegal since 1692, in order to avoid conflict over slavery in the newly acquired territories, multiple American Presidents called for the swift expedition of New Mexico’s statehood, including James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, and Abraham Lincoln; they also made plans to divide Santa Fe de Nuevo México into two states, Arizona (as a confederate state) and New Mexico (as a union state). Abraham Lincoln, and other Republicans, had even been pushing for New Mexican law to take precedence in regards to slavery and land-rights from prior Spanish and Mexican treaties. There was stiff opposition to New Mexican statehood from the Confederate states, this, along with the perceived land grab from Confederate Texas’ of New Mexican land, and Confederacy’s disregard for New Mexican customs, lead to the New Mexico territory’s citizens siding with the Union. Many of the native Pueblo and longtime Spanish citizens, along with Mexican-American land-grantees, joined the American Union soldiers in multiple battles including at Valverde, Peralta, Glorieta Pass, and Albuquerque. These Civil War battles, within New Mexico, lead to pro-American sentiment throughout the state, even as so mush as tom naming various locations with Patriotic names, such as renaming the town of Las Placitas del Rio Bonito to Lincoln, New Mexico. After the war, the Santa Fe De Nuevo México was divided between multiple states; Eastern Arizona, Southern Colorado, Western Oklahoma, Southeastern Utah, and parts of West Texas. In fact, in those areas, New Mexican culture maintains some level of influence, especially Southern Colorado, Eastern Arizona, and West Texas.