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for people who care about the West

The pueblos’ roller-coaster rise to power


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Indian Power."


Various tribes establish villages, which the Spanish will call "pueblos," along the Rio Grande. Some evidence suggests they are descendants of the Anasazi, whose settled and sophisticated civilization in places like Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde collapsed around 1300.


Conquistador Juan de O–ate claims the future New Mexico as a Spanish colony, establishing its first capital at San Gabriel, near San Juan Pueblo. O–ate's trek from Mexico City to New Mexico follows a path now known as El Camino Real, or The Royal Road. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 Indians live in New Mexico at the time.

1680, 1696

After years of economic exploitation and religious suppression, inhabitants of nearly all pueblos join in the "Pueblo Revolt" against the Spanish. The insurrection, which succeeds in driving out the Spanish for about 12 years, is lead by Pope from the San Juan Pueblo. In 1692, the Spanish launch their "reconquest" of New Mexico. Some Indians stage a second pueblo revolt in 1696, but without widespread participation, the effort fails.


Land-ownership disputes over Texas prompt the U.S. to declare war against Mexico in 1846. After two years of hostilities, U.S. troops march into Mexico and force the country to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gives the U.S. control of what is now Arizona, California, Texas and New Mexico.


After about 50 years as a territory, New Mexico becomes the 47th U.S. state. The action follows an earlier effort to pursue a joint statehood with Arizona, which was voted down by residents of the Arizona territory in 1906.


A federal court declares that Native Americans should be allowed to vote in New Mexico elections. Although Indians could vote in national elections beginning in 1924, New Mexico officials had argued that, because Indians were not taxed, they could not vote in state elections.


Sandia Pueblo begins bingo operations.


Gov. Gary Johnson OKs gaming compacts, based on the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which gives the state authority to license and regulate casino gambling on tribal lands. Johnson's action is subsequently challenged in court, but later ratified by the state Legislature.


Bill Richardson is elected governor of New Mexico. Richardson, a former U.S. congressman who represented the northern half of the state and also served as United Nations ambassador and Energy secretary under President Clinton, defeated another Hispanic candidate, Republican John Sanchez.