Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990 Page: 22
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Uncle Long-hair comes and trades and
then, because there's enough food to go
around, he brings his family and they stay.
Got to build another shelter. There is
enough food to feed a lot more people
than could be fed before. There's a surplus.
The minute you get a surplus, someone
will come along and try to tell you how
to get rid of it and in the telling, assume
control. With this, you begin to see the
growth of a new class, called chief or king or
priest or politician.
The onetime temporary camps grew.
Brother went across the river, met a woman
there who caught his eye, brought her back
with him-or, more times than not, stayed
and joined her group. All of a sudden you
had new relatives and they came and settled
down, bringing new skills with thembringing
new blood, new ideas into the
group. A town, or pueblo, began to grow.
Now, this didn't hold true for
everyone. There are mountain people and
there are flatland people, and their outlook
on life is as different as sunshine and rain.
The flatlander wants the slow turn of the
seasons, the time to plant, the time to
harvest. The mountain people hear a
different song. There's always something
around that next bend of the canyon-the
very changeability of life is what you sing
about. The sameness of life down on the
flatlands would drive you crazy in a week.
We keep lean and fit, up here in the
mountains. We have to-down below,
they grow fat and soft. Let's wait till they
bring in the crops, and then we'll go down
there and hit them. But-just take half of
22 HERITAGE * SPRING 1990
what they have. We've got to
leave the fools enough so they'll
stick around and plant more for
us next year.
The Apache did this, and successfully,
for years. The Apache,
the Kiowa, and the Comanche,
riding far south and west on
sweeping raids that left the
pueblos reeling. Later on,they
raided the ranches where the
Spaniards and the Mexicans
grew nice fat livestock with the
W 'Lsweetest meat on earth.
SK. The Spaniards, when they
came, brought one of the great.^
est weapons the Indian ever
found-the horse. You straddle a
horse, you can go far miles, faster
than you ever did before. Steal
enough horses, and you're rich.
You have a surplus. Not that
much changes down the years.
The Spaniards came, bringing new
things with them. They brought a new and
strange religion-and they wiped out the
old gods, or tried to. They took the land, set
up a property system of their own. And the
years rolled on. They sent expeditions up
past the Rio Grande and far into what is
now Arizona and New Mexico, looking for
magic golden cities that existed only in the
imagination. And they beat out a new
The colonists followed the soldiers
and the priests, setting up farms and
ranches on what had been Indian land
since the dawn of time. They changed the
rhythm of the land-and, in the
process, began its slow destruction.
But not yet. The destruction was yet
The newcomers built churches,
told the people that the way they
had been doing things was wronga
new way of life had dawned. The
images of the old gods were
destroyed, thrown in the cleansing
fire. New images were set up, and the
people told that this was what they
now must worship. The general
mass went along with it, but there
were those who refused to accept /
this new and heavy yoke. They took
to the mountains and the far desert
places, taking their old gods with
There were others, the ones
stuck with living in a pueblo. They
had corn fields and couldn't pack up
and leave so easily. They gave lip service to
the newcomers-but as abuses grew, they
waited with an age-old patience. Waited
for the time to strike.
The ones who weren't waiting were
the Apache. They'd sweep down from the
hills, hit and bum and kill and run, until
life in the outlying settlements became a
thing of fear. Many of the pueblos were
abandoned. The adobe and sandstone
walls of those ambitious missions were left
to crumble slowly in the winter snows, the
But there were too many of the
Spaniards. And with weapons that were
too efficient. The slow conquest of the land
went on, soldiers leading the way, and the
priests coming in when the dust of battle
faded. They weren't greeted with open
arms. The Acom6, living on their magic
mesa of Acoma, remember those days yet.
They still call the priests black crows,
remembering a time when they threw
three priests off the mesa's edge to see if
they could fly.
There was a siege at Acoma in 1598
that ranks with the epic battles of all time.
A handful of Spaniards, against seemingly
impossible odds, brought the mesa to its
knees. Half the population, some 600
people, were killed or killed themselves
rather than surrender.
Acoma was one of the few Spanish
triumphs, but it was an empty one; the
Indians still live on Acoma. The Spaniards
have gone. They had an enemy
greater than all the Indians combinedthey
fought endlq.sly among themselves.
Typical Spanish Soldier
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990, periodical, Spring 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45428/m1/22/: accessed March 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.