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The Saga of the Tigua Indians Essay

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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 the Spanish retreat south it was believed that the Tiguas chose to flea with the Spanish Military. The truth of their migration south is somewhat different. The Tigua are direct descendants of the Pueblo Indians of Isleta, New Mexico. There name Tigua, or Tiwa, refers to the dialect that they speak. Long before they founded Isleta, however, they were the inhabitants of a much more spectacular home; the fabled city of Gran Quivira, the golden city that drew the interest of Coronado. By 800 A.D. the city covered seventeen acres. T its height it had twenty housing projects built in the form of towering apartments, when most of Europe was nothing but primitive tribes. Terraces, garden apartments, churches, workshops and kitchens separated these projects. The masons were so skilled that the stones required no cement, and the carpenters cut wood in a way that the beams required no nails. When the Spanish finally found this city of legends they ere so impressed that they called it Pueblo de los Humanas, or the City of Human Beings. Then they went about destroying the city and the people forcing them into exile. This marked the beginning of centuries of abuse. From relocation to theft the Tiguas were to become the plaything of Europeans and Americans alike.

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...


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...se. The tribe is currently building many welfare programs, educational programs, establishing health benefits, plus laying aside money to distribute to the entire tribe. The money is currently collecting interest in a trust until the Bureau of Indian Affairs gives approval to a distribution plan. The lawsuits to reclaim the land have been put on hold. The Tigua are getting what they want through the casino. They are by choice quietly buying land that is legally theirs anyway. Though they are the rightful owners, the Tigua do not wish to make a big scene. They prefer to achieve economic independence on their own, hopefully reducing the chances of being taken advantage of again. Only six full-blooded Tigua remain, and they still plow and keep their traditional lands. They continue to teach children and grandchildren how to be Tigua.

Works Cited

1. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Archives (the Tigua file. / (S.l. / 1992-1993
FILM 22,186 REEL 1 Center for American History
FILM 22,186 REEL 2 Center for American History
FILM 22,186 REEL 3 Center for American History

2. Exiled : the Tigua Indians of Ysleta del Sur. Randy Lee Eickhoff.
Plano, Texas, Republic of Texas Press, 1996.


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