Ellos Pasaron por Aqui: 1st war between Native Americans, Europeans took place near RR

Don Bullis

In 1540, the province of Tiguex (pronounced “Tee-wesh”) had a dozen pueblos along the Rio Grande between what is now Albuquerque and Bernalillo.

The village of Ghufoor—located in what is now northeast Rio Rancho—became the focal point that year when the Spaniards under the command of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado attacked the Pueblo Indian people in a war bloody.

The winter of 1540-41 was particularly cold, and for housing reasons, the Spaniards expressed their intention to occupy the entire village.

While the people of Pueblo had initially been generous in providing supplies to the Spaniards, they were unwilling to give up an entire village.

In the brief struggle that followed, the Spanish prevailed and Coronado established his headquarters there.

He also demanded that the Pueblo people throughout the province of Tiguex hand over food and a large number of blankets for use by the Spanish soldiers.

The Pueblo people retaliated against the Spanish by slaughtering 40–60 of their horses and mules with bows and arrows.

This marked the start of the Tiguex War, in which approximately 100 Pueblo men were killed.

The atrocity was intended to intimidate the Pueblo people, but instead they were strengthened in their resolve to resist. They established a fortress called Moho.

The Spanish found they could not dislodge the Pueblo people with a frontal attack, so they laid siege to the fortified village.

After 80 days and out of the water, the people of Pueblo tried unsuccessfully to escape.

Some sources indicate that up to 200 Indian men were killed at Moho.

Despite the setback, the people of Pueblo continued to resist the Spanish by waging a guerrilla war that was so successful that people from other pueblos joined in the effort.

One historian has suggested that continued resistance from the Pueblo people contributed to Coronado’s decision to return to Mexico in the spring of 1542.

Little known, the Tiguex War is considered by many to be the first struggle between European military might and the natives of what is now the United States.

(There had been earlier battles between the Spaniards and the Indians in Mexico.)

After returning to Mexico, Coronado was arrested and tried for the atrocities committed during the Tiguex War.

According to a source, he was acquitted of all charges by “friends” in Mexico City.

(Don Bullis is a Rio Rancho resident, Centennial New Mexico historian, and award-winning author. He was named Top Local Author in the 2018 and ’19 Rio Rancho Observer Readers’ Choice contests. “Ellos Pasaron por Aqui” is translated as “They passed by here”.)

Nohemi M. Moore