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Timeline / Colonizers and Resistance / AD 1598: Spain enslaves Acoma women; mutilates Acoma men

AD 1598: Spain enslaves Acoma women; mutilates Acoma men

Spain punishes the the Pueblo of Acoma for resisting Spanish demands for food. Colonial governor Juan de Oñate orders the trial of 507 Acoma people. Women between 12 and 25 are enslaved for 20 years at the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh. Men over the age of 25 have one foot cut off, and younger men are enslaved for 20 years.

When Spanish troops under Juan de Zaldívar demand to buy corn flour at Acoma, the pueblo resists, ambushing and killing Zaldívar and nine of his party. Oñate convenes Franscisan friars to ask how to respond. After hearing testimony from Spanish survivors, the friars declare that if the people of Acoma will not submit voluntarily to Spanish rule, war without quarter (mercy) is permissible against them. Oñate commands Zaldívar’s brother to return to the pueblo, which surrenders after three days.

Native Rights

Here is a lithograph by C.B. Graham from "Report of Lieutenant James W. Abert of his Examination of New Mexico, in the Years 1846-47," Acoma, New Mexico. Lieutenant Abert participated in four expeditions to the West to map New Mexico for the U.S. Army.

Courtesy Museum of New Mexico