The Pope’s Rebellion or the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was a rebellion of the Pueblo Indian tribes against the oppression of the Spanish colonizers, who imposed on them the Christian faith and their orders. The uprising was organized by the Pueblo leader Pope, and the memory of the uprising influences the culture of New Mexico’s indigenous people still.
The primary cause of the hostility of the Pueblo tribes towards the Spanish was that they prohibited the indigenous peoples of America from maintaining their traditional faith. Moreover, the colonizers forced the Indians to work according to the Spanish Encomienda system. However, the Spanish provided Pueblo with new agricultural tools as well as protection from hostile tribes.
In the 1670s, the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico, nowadays New Mexico, was affected by drought, increasing attacks by enemy tribes, and the European disease epidemics severely reduced Pueblo’s population.
Many members of the tribe were disappointed in Spanish patronage and began to return to their traditional beliefs and religious practices. Such actions were violently repressed by the Spanish colonizers, who used inquisition measures against people.
One of Pueblo’s leaders, Pope, who was imprisoned in Spain and freed, had planned a mass uprising aimed at uniting all the members of the tribe. Pueblo sent couriers to all Pueblo with ropes tied in knots.
The knots meant the number of days left until the appointed day of the rebellion. In general, the uprising involved almost all groups of the Pueblo tribe. As a result, Pueblo people have conquered many of its lands, as well as the city of Santa Fe.
The significance of this event is that it had many long-term effects on the subsequent interrelationships between the Pueblo tribes and the Spanish colonizers. The indigenous population was completely free from Spanish invaders for 12 years until Diego de Vargas returned the territories in 1692.
However, even after the new conquest, Pueblo retained the right to practice their traditional religion, received substantial land grants and the opportunity to have public lawyers to defend their rights in Spanish courts.