History of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
First Encounters
The Emergence  
Founding of Pueblos  
Building Ysleta del Sur  
Defending the Frontier  
Travel Down the Mission Trail
Scholars' Bookshelf
Missions Bibliography
Ysleta Bibliography
Roster of El Paso Area Tribal Leaders
Native American Water Use Chronology
Tigua Military History
Early Accounts & Bibliography
Tigua Participation at Texas State Fair
Travel Links & More
Ysleta Land Grant Chronology
Acknowledgments / Resources
First Encounters

The first encounters between the Spaniard and Pueblo Indian often resulted in violence. In the late 1530’s, Nuño de Guzman, the Spanish Governor of Nuevo Galacia, conducted slave raiding expeditions against the Indians of northwestern Mexico. News of these bloody raids alarmed the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Later, Spanish authorities became aware of his cruelty, arrested him and imprisoned him.

In 1539, Estebanico the Black, an African from Azemmour, Morocco, was the first Old World visitor to enter the land of the Pueblo Indians. He arrived at Zuni Pueblo (present-day New Mexico) in April 1539. He was killed by the people because he was mistakenly associated with the slave raids of Nuño de Guzman, which took place far to the south in present-day Sinaloa and Sonora, Mexico.
In 1540, the army of Francisco Vasquéz de Coronado explored New Mexico. Coronado killed Indians and burned and plundered several Rio Grande Pueblos. His brutal actions left a legacy of mistrust among the native peoples. Between 1581 and 1590, several Spanish explorers and missionaries temporarily entered New Mexico, but their presence often resulted in violence. Spanish imperialism resulted in occupation of native lands and the exploitation of the people. Conquistadors, colonizers, missionaries, soldiers, civil and ecclesiastical officials too often abused the native people. The building blocks of Spanish imperialism included Spanish settlement (communities and haciendas or ranches), missions, and military forts. Despite Spanish law, that afforded some rights and protection of the native people, frequently officials not only permitted abusive exploitation (and even slavery) but were participants in these injustices.   

Don Franisco Vásquez de Coronado c. 1540
Courtesy of the artist, José Cisenros

The native people accepted horses, sheep, goats, chickens and pigs. Within a short time, the Pueblo Indians, Apache, Navajo and especially the Plains Indians, became great horsemen.

1680 Pueblo Rebellion  Retreat to El Paso

During the period of early Spanish settlement (1598-1680), relations between the Pueblo Indians and the Spaniards were strained. Some unscrupulous civil officials and clergy oppressed the native peoples. In August of 1680, the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico rebelled against Spanish injustices. Several hundred settlers were killed and churches, ranches and villages were set afire.

The Spaniards fled New Mexico and retreated southward to set-up temporary camp at La Salienta (meaning the saline deposit), near modern-day Canutillo, Texas. A short time later, they were relocated the Pass of the North at Guadalupe Mission (modern-day Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua) where they established encampments. Guadalupe Mission was founded in 1659 to convert the neighboring Mansos and Suma Indians.
El Paso del Norte, meaning in Spanish The Paso of the North, was an important way station on El Camino Real (The Royal Road between Mexico and Santa Fe). Here, teamsters, soldiers, and colonists replenished water and supplies and rested.

One large group of soldiers and settlers, who escaped during the Pueblo Revolt, arrived at Isleta Pueblo (near modern-day Albuquerque). There, they demanded food and provisions. The people of Isleta Pueblo, located on the southern periphery of the Rio Grande Pueblos, were too distant from the revolt’s planning center to effectively join the rebellion. The Spaniards forced many of the pueblo’s inhabitants to carry supplies south to the Pass of the North.

The Piro Indians who, as result of the Pueblo Rebellion, abandoned the Pueblos of Senecú, Socorro, Serveitta and Almaillo, and were forced to join the retreat. The refugees also included Tigua and Tompiro Indians who, in the 1670’s, had evacuated the Saline or Gran Quivera Pueblos, located east some 70 miles east of modern-day Socorro, New Mexico, because of drought and frequent Apache depredations. The Indian exiles, under Spanish guard, made the long trek southward to the Pass of the North across the parched desert landscape known as the Journey of Death.  Upon arriving at the Pass of the North, they established temporary camps around Guadalupe Mission. Thus, some 317 refugee Indians from Isleta, and the neighboring Piros Pueblos were relocated to the Pass.

In 1681, Spanish soldiers, led by Governor Antonio Otermín, attempted to re-take New Mexico, but met stiff resistance and retreated southward to Isleta Pueblo where they captured 385 Indians who were forced to join them on the journey to the Pass of the North.