The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was a revolution against Spanish religious, economic, and political institutions imposed upon the Pueblos. It is the only successful Native uprising against a colonizing power in North America.
In the 1670s, the Spanish governor of New Mexico ordered several Pueblo holy men executed, and many others publicly whipped. Po’Pay, a holy man and War Captain of Ohkay Owingeh, was one of the men whipped in Santa Fe, an experience that hardened his resolve to drive the Spanish from New Mexico. In the face of turmoil, suffering from prolonged drought, and fearing the complete loss of our culture, the Pueblo people resorted to armed resistance.
Po’pay of Ohkay Owingeh (formerly referred to as San Juan Pueblo) organized and led the revolt. A date for collective rebellion was set, and runners were sent to all the Pueblos carrying knotted cords which represented the number of days until the day of uprising. Each morning, the Pueblo leadership untied one knot from the cord, and when the last knot was untied, it was the signal for them to act in unison.
The successful revolt kept the Spanish out of New Mexico for 12 years, and established a different power dynamic upon their return. The Pueblo Revolt holds great historical significance because it helped ensure the survival of Pueblo cultural traditions, lands, languages, religions, and sovereignty.
Learn more in our new Pueblo Revolt Online Exhibit!
Teach your children about the first American revolution by downloading the Pueblo Revolt high school lesson plan from our free Indigenous Wisdom curriculum.