Definitions

Popé

Popé

[poh-pey]
Popé, d. c.1690, medicine man of the Pueblo. In defiance of the Spanish conquerors, he practiced his traditional religion and preached the doctrine of independence from Spanish rule and the restoration of the old Pueblo life. In Aug., 1680, he organized the revolt of the Pueblo against their Spanish oppressors. The Native Americans attacked Santa Fe, the capital city, killing some 400 colonists and missionaries and forcing the survivors to retreat down the Rio Grande to El Paso. For the first time in 82 years the Pueblo were free of Spanish rule. Popé, assuming a despotic role, then began a campaign to wipe out all traces of the Spanish conquerors—prohibiting the Spanish language, destroying Christian churches, and even washing clean those who had been baptized. Internal dissension and Apache raids soon weakened the unity of the Pueblo, and in 1692, shortly after Popé's death, they were reconquered by the Spaniards.
Popé (Po'pay) (born ca. 1630 - died ca 1688) was a Tewa religious leader from Ohkay Owingeh (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo), who led the Pueblo Revolt against Spanish colonial rule in 1680.

Popé is one of 47 Native Americans who were accused, arrested and tried for practicing "sorcery" in 1675. Three of the men who were found guilty were taken to their respective villages; two were hanged. One hanged himself before the Spanish could. The remaining 44 were publicly whipped and sentenced to prison.

When word of this reached the Pueblo leaders they moved in force to Santa Fe, where the prisoners were being held. The Spanish governor, Juan Francisco de Treviño, released the prisoners because a large number of his soldiers were away from Santa Fe fighting the Apache.

Popé returned home, deeply angered by what had happened. Shortly thereafter, he moved north to Taos Pueblo, where the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 is believed to have been planned. The Pueblo Revolt sought to expel Spanish settlers from the traditional Puebloan lands and preserve the traditional Pueblo way of life. The revolt succeeded, driving the Spanish from virtually all of New Mexico

In 1692, following Popé's death, Spanish control was reasserted, but under much more lenient terms. During this new era, the Spanish no longer actively attempt to eradicate the Pueblo languages and religion, which still flourish today.

For this reason the people of New Mexico chose to honor Popé by erecting his statue in Washington D.C. The statue by Pueblo sculptor Cliff Fragua was dedicated in the rotunda of the United States Capitol on September 22, 2005. It is one of two statues presented by New Mexico to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

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