Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000 Page: 19
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haps it was somewhere east of moder-day
Socorro. In 1684, the fledgling Indian
pueblos were moved several leagues up
river, closer to the Pass, to improve area
defense as a result of an uprising among the
Manso and Suma Indians, and because the
Piros at Socorro Pueblo had attempted to
assassinate the resident priest. At the time,
Ysleta was relocated in the vicinity of its
In 1692, the Spanish governor led the
successful re-conquest of New Mexico.
Originally, he had planned to return the
Tigua and Piro Indians to New Mexico, but
later decided that they should remain in
the El Paso district to support the local
economy and serve as bulwark for frontier
defense. The viceroy declared that the
Spanish colonists were the temporary
guests of the Indians. A year later, the permanent
status of Ysleta de Sur Pueblo was
evident in a boundary dispute that the governor
settled between Ysleta and Socorro
By the early 1700s, Ysleta had become a
prosperous and self-sufficient agricultural
community. The church was the religious
and physical center of the pueblo, and the
village cemetery was directly before the
church. The Indian pueblo was located in
front of the mission and consisted of several
contiguous housing blocks, a main
plaza, and several tus-lahs or kiva ceremonial
chambers. The pueblo's compact design
provided defense from attack, and access by
ladder and low entryways insured security.
In 1751, the tribe received from the
Spanish Crown the Ysleta Grant, a 36square-mile
tract of land with the church
at its center. The governor conveyed grants
to the Indians of Ysleta, Socorro, Senec,
and Guadalupe del Paso. It appears that
these Indian grants were made to protect
the Indian communities from non-Indian
encroachment and may have been a reaffirmation
of earlier grants. The outlying
area of the pueblo contained farms and
pasturelands. All lands were communal;
residence and land assignments were made
through the matrilineal clans.
The Camino Real, or Royal Road,
passed through the old pueblo and was the
communication and trade route that linked
Mexico City to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
During the Mexican period, it was known
as the Camino Nacional, or Nacional
Road. The main entrance of the pueblo was
located several blocks east of the mission
and was known as La Entrada por El Alto,
meaning "The Entrance by the High
Bridge," a name derived from the bridge
on the Camino Real that crossed over the
Until the construction of Elephant
Butte Dam in 1916, the Rio Grande frequently
flooded the El Paso Valley, cutting
new channels and abandoning old ones,
and recharging the surface with alluvial deposits
that rejuvenated plant and animal
life. On more than one occasion, valley
missions and pueblos were damaged or destroyed
by the river. As result of severe
floods,Ysleta Pueblo probably occupied two
or more locations within the grant.
In 1740, a disastrous flood destroyed the
mission and pueblo, which were then relocated
almost a mile to the east in the
present location of the Ysleta Mission. Perhaps,
this pre-1740 site is the same sacred
location where the tribe, prior to the San
Antonio Fiesta, currently begins the procession
with the saint called the "salida"
or departure. It is still considered the center
of the pueblo.
Above: San Antonio Fiesta at the
Ysleta Mission, circa June 13, 1890.
Mariano Colmenero, tribal governor
(in the white shirt in front of the door),
is shown with tribal leaders and
members. Manuel Ortega is at his left
with the feather headdress. Image
courtesy of the Arizona State Museum
On August 10,
against the injustices
HERITAGE * 19 * SUMMER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000, periodical, Summer 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45389/m1/19/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.