October 7 (September 27, o.s.)

New Mexico: Governor Vargas and his expedition depart from their campsite at Miranda at 4:00 am for Taos Pueblo.  Since this is a hostile pueblo, at war with the Spaniards’ Tewa allies, the group is prepared to fight if need be, though Vargas would much prefer to make peace and bring Taos back into Spanish obedience and Christianity.  When the expedition comes into sight of the pueblo, Vargas asks one of the missionaries, Cristóbal Alonso Barroso, to grant him absolution, and Barroso does so, absolving both Vargas and all of his soldiers.  Vargas then divides the soldiers into three squads, one to besiege each of the two roomblocks of the pueblo and a third consisting of him and his chief officers, to move around as needed.

The squads advance as ordered and surround the roomblocks, but they soon discover that there are no people in them.  They do see some faint smoke off to the east, indicating that the people may have fled in that direction.  Vargas sends Luis Picurí, the leader of the allied pueblos, and his brother Lorenzo, governor of Picuris Pueblo, with their men to investigate.  He tells them that he will wait behind until the rest of the expedition arrives with fresh horses, at which time he will follow them.

After about an hour, a messenger arrives from Luis and Lorenzo, with the message that they have found the people of Taos and that they are hiding in a canyon way out in the mountains, with guards stationed above the canyon.  Upon hearing this, Vargas immediately takes off with his men toward this canyon, without waiting for a fresh horse.

When he gets to the foot of the mountains a man from Taos is there.  He speaks good Spanish and tells Vargas that his name is Josefillo and that his people call him “the Spaniard.”  Vargas embraces him and shakes his hand, then tells him that his people shouldn’t have left, and that they have nothing to fear, since he has come only to pardon them and bring them back to Christianity and loyalty to Spain.  He tells Josefillo to go to the people and tell them to return, and gives him a rosary as a sign of his sincerity.  Josefillo then leaves, promising to transmit the message.

A little while later six more people from Taos arrive at the foot of the mountains, where they lay down their weapons and greet Vargas, who embraces them and shakes their hands, then tells them through an interpreter what he told Josefillo.  This makes them very happy, and Vargas sends the two who speak the best Spanish to give the message to their people still in hiding, sending rosaries with them.

From this point on more and more people begin coming down out of the mountains, including the leader of the pueblo, Francisco Pacheco.  Vargas tells them to return to the pueblo, and sends a few back to tell the others who are still hiding.  After the people arrive at the plaza of the pueblo, Vargas explains what he is doing and tells them that they can all come down and return to their homes, which the soldiers will not occupy as long as the residents are there.  They tell him that the only reason they don’t want to come back immediately is that they don’t want to leave behind the clothes they took to the mountains, and mention some other problems that they have had, all on account of their fear of the Spaniards when they arrived.  Vargas attempts to soothe them by treating their leaders kindly, and he arranges for the leaders of Taos to make peace with the leaders of the allied pueblos by embracing and shaking hands in the plaza.  This finally allays the people’s doubts and persuades them to come down immediately.

At around 4:00 pm the remaining people begin to arrive at the pueblo, particularly the women and children.  Vargas greets them and shakes their hands, and after explaining his mission tells them to retire to their homes, since it is late, and that he will do the formal pardoning and absolution rituals the next day when all the people have come back.

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Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment

  1. […] who delivered Vargas’s message to the people of Taos when they were hiding in the mountains the previous day, that all the people have come back from the mountains to the pueblo, where Vargas and his men are […]


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