Resident Holy Man Preaches “Reconciliation”

By: Contributor
9 August, 2018

(Editor’s Note: Historically, “Padre Martinez,” (the outlaw priest) according to “legend” shares some of the blame for the 1847 Bent Massacre and subsequent massacre at Taos Pueblo by American troops. In an effort to right historic wrongs,  David Fernandez, below, preaches a seemingly unorthodox message, “Reconciliation,” while acknowledging the strange confluence of violence and a well-wrought monument to historic mis-steps.)

By David Fernández de Taos                          8.8.18

Our Northern cultural and spiritual landscape including Taos and Santa Fe and its Pueblos and towns and villages was forged by tremendous and cataclysmic circumstances that we now proudly profess and claim as our unique and profound heritage.


In a few days’ time the commemoration of one such defining historical event that shaped how things are now will be taking place, namely, that of the August 1680 Pueblo Indian Revolt against the Spanish Royal Dominion.


On a clear beautiful summer day now in the 21st century, when the majestic surrounding mountains are generating scintillating power in the potent incandescent light of the sun and the stirring air is breathing sweetly through our valleys and the forests and the soaring eagles are tracing strong circles and signs of peace and completion in the heights of the pure blue skies, it is hard to remember or imagine that not so long ago there raged on our lands a fearful and bloody conflict between the peoples and their deities and their civilizations from the opposite sides of the world.


In our story, first there were the people and civilizations of the Western hemisphere of the earth who have been indigenous here for tens of thousands of years, whose cultures and fabulous cities were spread and connected, from South America to Meso America to  Mexico and to North America as well.


Then the European Catholic Spaniards began to arrive from the Eastern hemisphere across the Atlantic Ocean in the late 15th-early 16th centuries A.D. The Spanish, with the help of local indigenous peoples, began to topple and conquer the great cities, first Mexico-Tenochtitlan and then the other native empires including the Mayas and the Incas.


The Spanish brought Christian religion to the American Southwest, settling here by 1598, and established their dominion.  East and West thus made the fateful contact.  And, as it has been said succinctly, “When Jesus came, the Corn Mothers went away.”


Except that though the Corn Mothers may have faded somewhat they yet remain, and others of the Native gods and spirits also persist.  In the year 1680 the powerful spirits of these lands were invoked in Taos by the strong leader Popé of OhkayOwingeh-San Juan Pueblo to unite all the Indian Pueblos in a native rebellion against Spanish rule.


It is recounted that in a gathering of the Pueblo leaders, Popéinvoked the urging of three entities, Caudi, and Tilini, and Tleume, for the Pueblos to rise up to restore the ways things were before the Spaniards came here.


On August 10, 1680 the bloody revolt began, and it succeeded by its secret planning and coordination and execution, everywhere at once, but at the tremendous cost of many hundreds of lives lost, in blood and fire.  The Europeans were forced to flee.  The Revolt was won—for the time being. In 1692 the Spaniards re-established their dominion, and all involved then knew that their future had merged in mingled blood and water and lives. Jesus and the Corn Mothers and the ancient spirits and gods would thenceforth coexist.


The 1680 Pueblo Revolt continues to echo and reverberate. Intractable currents of acrimony and recrimination have continued unabated at varying levels of intensity in some of the people since then.  Some present-day descendants of the Revolt’s leaders and casualties on both sides still harbor strong resentments about the Revolt and its outcomes.


Yet there is a kind of “healing irony” that is also evident now some 340 years later in the still dynamic aftermath of the 1680 Revolt.  More than a few of the most strident activist voices for historical truth and reconciliation between the Pueblo and the Spanish cultures, from both sides, are by now themselves individuals who live in both of these worlds and whose very lifeblood is a genetic mingling of both the “Old” and “New” worlds.


The historical truths and reconciliation and peace that we want to achieve would, and will, then be applicable not only in the larger cultural context, but equally so in each of us individually whose Grandfathers and Grandmothers were met from both worlds in that earlier time back then.  Healing and reconciliation can then in fact come from the spirit of our now-mingled blood which had been so ferociously spilled and mixed on the battlegrounds of the desperately-fought Revolt.


Today, progress is being made toward the goal of achieving historical truth, spiritual peace, and reconciliation from the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, between our two civilizations.


I recall the words of the Cacíque religious elder of a Northern New Mexico Pueblo whom I would often visit in the 1990’s.  He was a centenarian and he preferred to speak with me in Spanish.  He said to me,  “Muchos eventos grandes y trágicos han pasado entre nuestras gentes. Pero ahora somos hermanos y vecinos. Es mejor que siguemos así porque todos somos los hijos y hijas del mismo Creadór.”  (“Many great and tragic events have happened between our peoples. But now we are brothers and neighbors. It is better that we continue that way because we are all the sons and daughters of the same Creator.”)


It is in the spirit of the Cacique’s words, and in the spirit of our quest for truth, peace, and reconciliation, that we now honor and bless by name some of those who were the leaders and the religious men involved in the 1680 Revolt and who have passed on and who perished in that awful conflict


From the Pueblos:  Antonio Malacate of Cochití; Juan El Tano of Galisteo; Luis Conixu of Walatowa Jémez; Diego Xenome of Nambé; Luis Tupatú of WelaiPicurís; Francisco El Ollito and Nicolas de la Crúz of San Ildefonso; Popé and Taguof San Juan Ohkay Owingeh; Antonio Bolsas and Cristobal Yope of San Lazaro; Domingo Naranjo and Cajete of Khapo Santa Clara; Alonzo Catití of Kewa Santo Domingo; El Saca of Taos Teotho; Domingo Romero of Tehsugeh Tesuque; and others who cannot be named.


Twenty-one Spanish Catholic Franciscan Friars killed in the Revolt: Fray Antonio de Mora, Taos;  Fray Matias Rendón, Picurís and Taos; Fray Antonio Sanchez de Pio, Taos; Fray Juan de Talaban, Santo Domingo; Fray Francisco Antonio, Santo Domingo; Fray Joseph de Montes de Oca, Santo Domingo; Fray Juan de Jesús, Jemez; Fray Luis Maldonado, Ácoma; Fray Juan de Bál, Alona Zuni Hopi; Fray Joseph de Figueroa, of Aguatobi; Fray Joseph de Trujillo, Xóngo Pavi; Fray Joseph de Espeleta, Oraibi; Fray Agustín de Santa Maria, Oraybi; Fray Juan Bernal, Galisteo; Fray Fernando de Velasco, Pecos; Fray Manuel Tinoco, San Marcos; Fray Domingo, Galisteo; Fray Juan de la Pedrosa, Pecos; Fray Juan Bautista Pio, Tesuque; Fray Tomas de Torres, Nambé; Fray Luis de Morales, San Ildefonso.


For the sake of their works, by their spilled or living blood, may their souls and the souls of the many hundreds and the thousands killed and dead in the Revolt and in its aftermath into the 1690’s, rest in peace.


May their deaths by blood, fire, and by the will of the Creator; and from their burials in our holy lands of El Norte, nourish and cause to grow in our time the truth, the peace, and the reconciliation for which we all hope and desire.


Father, who touches the skies, Lord of the lands and waters, Lord of the Moon and the Sun. Come to us, standing tall and full of generosity. Give to us our daily nourishment. Keep away bad spirits. Keep away evil ghosts. Vanquish the evil ones. Bring forth our good spirits, so that we may prevail for you. Listen, and grant our prayers.


In the names of the healing and reconciling spiritual lords Jesús and Poseueve, and by the intercession of the life-sustaining Corn Mothers and of Santa Maria and all the Santos and the natural and supernatural Spirits who inhabit and raise up our unique land of El Nórte, may our peoples have now only Peace from the Blessing which has been given to us by our mutually spilled and mingled blood.
(Davíd Fernández de Taos is a native Taoseño who is deeply involved in the spiritual and cultural life and heritage of El Nórte.  He is a radio commentator and a writer and as a newspaper columnist he authors “The Blessing Way” and “Espíritu delNórte”.  He may be contacted by U.S. Mail at:  107 Toalne Street, Unit 1; Taos, NM; 87571. Telephone:  (575)-758-7608   Email:  )


(P.S.  Note:  The Cacíque whom I would visit was Pete Concha of Taos Pueblo. He was a staunch Catholic. I was his home Eucharistic Minister, and we would talk about a great many things as well. He has passed away…The names of the Pueblo Revolt Leaders and those of the Franciscan Friars are all in public domain. – DF)

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