Sunday, May 01, 2022

Abó: Under the Banner of Heaven

History lurks in every nook and cranny of New Mexico. Ancient Puebloan societies have flourished in the Land of Enchantment for 7,000 years. Beyond the best-known Pueblos like Taos Pueblo, Chaco Canyon and Bandelier are dozens of others that are lightly visited but no less historic. Among those lesser lights are Pecos National Monument and the Salinas Mission Pueblos which were etched into the grasslands beneath the Manzano Mountains of Central New Mexico.

The first of the Salinas Pueblos to be recognized for its 7,000-year history was Gran Quivera which became a National Monument in 1909. In 1980 Abó and Quarai became part of the monument, and the three Salt Missions became Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in 1988.

The Tompiro Indians built nine villages where the mountains meet the the plains at the eastern perimeter of Puebloan culture. They mined salt which was used to preserve meat. They bartered the valuable commodity for food and trade goods. The Tompiro economy was based on trade between the Great Plains tribes, the Rio Grande Pueblos even from the Pacific Northwest and Mexico. 

Don Juan de Oñate and the Franciscans entered the region in 1598. They built Missions at each of the Tompiro Pueblos using the women and children as slave labor. It was a pattern of abuse repeated throughout New Mexico and the Americas. Their conscripts constructed towering structures with roof beams from the Manzano Mountain forest thirty miles away.

A lengthy drought followed by years of crop failures ravaged the Tompiro Pueblos. In one winter, Gran Quivera lost 480 members. The Conquistadors and the Catholic Church’s demands for labor and fealty were compounded by European diseases like Smallpox and Syphilis that decimated Gran Quivera by 1672 and all of the Tompiro Pueblos were abandoned in 1680, another testament to colonialism under the banner of Heaven.

All images are of Abó Mission Pueblo

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

Abo Mission is indeed a place of history and mystery, and your text and photographs reveal that beautifully. I love the blue sky peaking through the black and white in the selectively toned image you made of the mission. It never ceases to amaze me how intrepid the human race can be in building shelter out of native materials. Gran Quivera is a wonderful place that should be on everyone's list of places to explore in New Mexico. Thanks for reminding us, Steve, and for sharing it with us through your photographs and words.