The Acoma

Satisfactory Essays
“There is one Acoma. It is a class by itself. The peer of it is not in the world…The longest visit never wears out its glamour: one feels as in a strange, sweet, unearthly dream, whose very rocks are genii, and whose people swart conjurors. It is the spendthrift of beauty”-Lummis, 1983 (James 18). Acoma was a beautiful, strong village, drawing many people to it, even though they were usually unwelcome. “From the very outset Acoma excited the curiosity and even the fear of pioneers because of the strangeness of its position and the reputation of its inhabitants for ferocity” (Sedgwick preface). Although Acoma had such a reputation, it did not stop Don Juan de Onate from taking over such a magnificent place. Once Onate gained control, the Acoma reputation vanished and all lives of the Acoma Indians changed politically, economically, and especially socially.

“The settlers in New Mexico still felt connected to Spain,” says Palmer,” and they wanted to sustain their vision of what they had left behind. They prided themselves on being Spanish” (Sletto 10). It was decided in 1595 to make a fresh attempt in conquering and colonizing even beyond New Mexico, to Quivira. “The command was entrusted to the greatest of all those who went into the north, Juan de Onate, who became the true founder of New Mexico “(Sedgwick 67). In 1595, a contract was made for Onate to colonize New Mexico. Onate agreed to supply two hundred men along with their equipment, live-stock, merchandise and provisions for the support of the colony for a year (Sedgwick 71).

In return, he would not only receive emoluments of land and titles, free form crown taxation, but he would also become governor and captain-general of the province (Sedgwick 71). Of course that was not enough. He also asked for “the support of six friars with the proper church furnishings, and likewise full instructions concerning the conversion of the Indians, and the tributes he had the right to exact from them” (Sedgwick 71).

The trouble really began on December 1, 1598, when Zaldivar and most of his men were killed. They had reached the great fortress and camped two leagues away. “Three days later, with eighteen men, he ascended the rock to procure cornmeal the Indians had promised” (James 9). But without and warning, the Spanish detachment was attacked by Chief Zutucapan and his warriors. Zaldivar and twelve of his men were killed, while the rest survived and returned to Onate to tell him the news (James 9).
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