On August 10, 2023 the Pueblo world commemorates the 1680 Pueblo Revolt which occurred 343 years ago. The Pueblo Revolt is regarded as the first successful revolution by an Indigenous civilization in the Western Hemisphere against a foreign occupying entity.
For eight decades, the Pueblo people suffered harsh feudal oppression, forced religious conversions and persecutions, the encroachment and occupation of their ancestral homelands by Spanish invaders and other factors which challenged Pueblo societal norms and was an existential threat to the continuation of all that defined the Pueblos’ world.
The Revolt was a coordinated, collective Pueblo effort to assert their inalienable right for autonomy and free themselves from a colonizing foreign kingdom. Po’Pay, a Tewa spiritual leader and War Captain from the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, was instrumental in the leadership and coordination of the revolt. The name Po’pay means “Ripe Squash” in the Tewa language or translated to mean “Ripe Squash” in the Tewa language, spoken by the people of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh. Although not the first in the Western Hemisphere, the Revolt exemplifies the perseverance and resilience of Pueblo peoples, their traditions, cultures, and languages, and is the legacy of their descendants—21 Pueblo communities of the U.S. Southwest.
Cliff Fragua, from Jemez Pueblo, is the artist who sculpted the famous marble statue of Po’Pay that now resides in the U.S. Capitol’s Visitor Center’s Emancipation Hall in Washington, D.C. Crow Canyon also stewards a bronze statue of Po’Pay in the Gates Building lobby – a generous gift from Bill and Julia Huff. Cliff created his first sculpture in 1974 and studied techniques in Italy, California, and New Mexico. (Photo of Po’Pay marble statue courtesy of Architect of the Capitol; artist Cliff Fragua.)
If you’d like to learn more, the book titled “Po’Pay: Leader of the First American Revolution” by Joe Sando (Jemez) and Herman Agoyo (Ohkay Owingeh) is an excellent resource and provides additional background on the Po’Pay statue.
The Pueblo Indian Cultural Center’s (IPCC) website also offers numerous resources about the Pueblo Revolt, including a new online exhibit and Indigenous Wisdom curriculum on the subject for high school students. Virtual events also include an interview with the Po’Pay sculptor, Cliff Fragua, a knotted cord demonstration with Shannon Romero, and a presentation about the Pueblo Revolt by Crow Canyon educator, Jon Ghahate.
Learn more about the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 at the IPCC website!
At Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, we have the honor of working with descendant tribal members to connect the past to the present. Thank you to all our friends, partners, collaborators, and supporters for your generosity and commitment!