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The Saga Of The Tigua Indians

5106 words - 21 pages

The Saga of the Tigua Indians

The Saga of the Tigua Indians is an amazing one. By all reasoning they should have been wiped out long ago. There quiet defiance to change, however, has carried them through. From the height of civilization to near extinction the Tigua have remained. They endure imprisonment by the Spanish, oppression and manipulation by everyone that followed. This is the story of a people thought to extinct, that are once again learning to survive.

Early histories of the Tigua Indians are conflicting and largely untrue. Since 1680 it had been believed that the Tiguas were traitors to the Pueblo Nation, and had chose sides with the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt. Upon ...view middle of the document...

In 1680 the majority of the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico staged a revolt against the Spanish. On the whole the Tigua did not join the revolt. Some believe this is an indication that the Tigua were loyal to the cross and to Spain. This is not entirely accurate. As the southernmost pueblo, location probably had more to do with the fate of the Tigua then anything. The news of this revolt led by an Indian named Pope had not yet reached Isleta. By the time it had the Tigua were overrun by retreating Spaniards. Being the southernmost city it was the natural regrouping ground for Otermin and his troops. With such a large presence of Spanish soldiers it would have been foolish for the Indians of Isleta to resist them. After failed attempts to recapture lands lost to the north, Governor Otermin finally decided to give up and proceeded south to greater safety of the Mission of Guadalupe at Juarez. The Spanish were accompanied by a group of Indians from mixed tribes, including a few Tigua. One in Juarez three camps for the Indians were established. Alvaro de Zualata was the first priest of the Sacramento camp was located on the present day site of the Mission Church at Ysleta, Texas. Ysleta, Texas, or Ysleta del Sur is the current location of the remaining Tigua Indians. Two other camps were also formed; St. Pedro de Alcantarra and Seneca del Sur. The present Church of Ysleta has an interesting record from this time stating that in addition to these camps set up by the Spanish, “a few Tigua try to found Ysleta del Sur in a nearby place.

In 1681 Otermin was determined to recapture the lost territories in New Mexico. He mounted an expedition to the north and was successful in surprising the Pueblo of Isleta under the cover of darkness. He was able to capture nearly all of the inhabitants. The Spanish continued to move north. The Pueblo forces were successful again, however, in repulsing the Spanish. Thus forcing the Spanish back south toward El Paso. As many as 100 Isleta Pueblo escaped from the Spanish on their journey southward. It is believed that these along with a few others that escaped the initial attack fled to Arizona to seek refuge with the Hopi Indians, a tribe they had always been friendly with. The remaining Tigua were shackled and used as a human shield on the treacherous trek south to El Paso. This is evidenced by Otermin’s own words in his report the Extractos: “…protection would thus be afforded [the Spanish] along the retreat [while] danger of the Indians returning to apostasy would thereby be relieved.” The Spanish returned in February 1682 with 385 Tiguas, all which was left after the dreaded Journada de Muerto, a trackless waste of sixty miles void of water and shelter. Because of the increased number of Indian captives the settlements were reorganized. The Tiguas were moved from Santismo Sacramento to a nearby site to form the Pueblo of Corpus Christi de la Ysleta del Sur Pueblo where they have remained to this day. The...

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