Autonomy: Core Element of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt



Certain words become symbols. Crowds shouting “USA, USA” stir emotions of fervent nationalism. America is one of those words, often being synonymous with “freedom,” “self-determination,” or “Independence.” These concepts are the foundation of this country. Many Americans associate these concepts with the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, which most learned in high school history. Even immigrants seeking citizenship learn this about America. Refugees and immigrants gather at our borders because of what that term “America” symbolizes. East coast 18th Century colonists sought their independence from a monarch, albeit on land already inhabited by a multitude of diverse, autonomous Indigenous civilizations. Self-rule, autonomy, and more specifically, the right of a human collective, can determine its own government and civilization, which was already well-established throughout the Western Hemisphere centuries before 1492 CE. However, this part of United States History is often not taught, nor is the historical event of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Ninety-four years before the Declaration of Independence was envisioned by its writers, the ancestors of today’s Southwest Pueblo peoples were forced to resort to violent opposition to the invaders of their homelands. The Pueblo peoples had endured eighty-two years of oppression, harsh feudal rule, forced religious conversion, slavery, and warfare – the “requerimento,” the Spanish term for an ultimatum. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was the Pueblos response to ensuring there would be a future, a perpetuation of their cultures, their existential beliefs, their languages, and in essence, their very existence. To understand the factors contributing to the Pueblo Revolt, it is essential to know about the Pueblo peoples and their legacies as human societies.

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