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Juan de Oñate (1550-1626) established the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico. Oñate’s administration is most famously, or infamously, known for the Battle of Acoma Pueblo. Oñate’s nephew, Juan de Zaldívar, had been killed in an incident at the pueblo prior to this three-day battle—a breaking point for the governor, whose subsequent punitive expedition resulted in the deaths of several hundred Acoma men, women, and children. Oñate is also purported to have ordered the severing of the right feet of men over the age of 25, who were made slaves along with many younger men and women. Sixty of the youngest girls were sent to convents in Mexico City, never to see their homes again. As no archaeological findings have supported the historical narrative that the governor ordered the mutilation of Acoma men, this battle has remained a long-standing source of contention between Pueblo peoples and Hispanic communities of New Mexico. Allegations of failure and brutality came to the attention of the Spanish Crown, and Oñate spent the greater part of his retirement defending his family name.

Details

  • Title: Juan de Oñate
  • Creator: Frederico Vigil
  • Location: Albuquerque, NM

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