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The Pueblo Rebellion (CEC)

The Pueblo Rebellion

In 1680, the Pueblos rebelled, shaking off their new masters.  The Spanish retreated, establishing new settlements around present-day El Paso, Texas, but the animals, technology, and goods abandoned in their retreat fueled yet another transformation of Indian cultures.

When the Spanish reconquered the Pueblos in the 1690s, they discovered that their dozen-year absence had unleashed new forces in the region.  Thousands of horses—tended by Pueblos and traded to Utes and Apaches—had been scattered across the Great Plains.  Now Indians, always far more numerous than the Spanish in New Mexico, had advantages in speed and range that had once only belonged to Europeans.  Dogs gave way to horses as the most important of Indian-domesticated animals.  A native economy once powered by meat—dog food—transformed into one fueled by grass.

This had implications, too, for European rivalries.  If other colonizing powers gained influence over the Indians closest to Spanish colonies, these outposts might become untenable.

Spanish officials quickly grasped that policies on the frontera had to change, and old ideas of conquest and harsh rule shifted toward ideas of spreading Spanish influence among the Indians instead.  Taos Pueblo emerged as a center of this new commercial initiative, and Apaches, Utes, and Navajos arrived with the bounty of their plains and mountain lives—especially meat and hides from deer, elk, and buffalo—and traded it for the baskets, pottery, and corn of the Pueblos.  They also brought exotic items from far off tribes, evidence of an extensive trade web.

There were also newcomers. Comanches, the southern offshoot of the Shoshones and relatives and allies of the Utes, arrived at Taos to sample the goods and to scope out the neighborhood.  What they discovered intrigued them.