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“The Pueblo Revolt of 1680” by Andrew L. Knaut Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Jul 11th, 2021

Introduction

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico is an interpretive book, which was written by Andrew L. Knut in 1995 as an exegesis of the available records that talk about the Pueblos of New Mexico in the seventeenth century. Knaut is a historian, and he relies on documented evidence to interpret how and why the Pueblos resisted Spanish domination and brutality together with the occurrences that preceded the 1680 revolt. This paper is a book review of The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 highlighting the underlying thesis, how the thesis is outlined and defended, and how the author uses primary and secondary sources to support his claims.

Nature of the Book

The book is an interpretive analysis work, and it starts by giving a brief narrative concerning the Pueblo Revolt whereby the author explores the causes of the uprising. According to Knaut, the revolt was compounded by a pattern of Spanish brutality towards the natives, Pueblo’s refusal to abandon their cultural practices and be assimilated in a new foreign one, and the weakened Spanish authority before the 1680s. The book is written to fill historical gaps concerning the revolt.

The Book’s Thesis

The basic underlying thesis of this book is that the 1680 Pueblo revolt and the ultimate win against the Spanish domination in New Mexico have not received the appropriate recognition in New World history. Therefore, the author sought to address this issue and introduce a different angle of understanding concerning the revolt and the role of Pueblos. The majority of the available historical accounts paint the revolt as a conflict between two monolithic bodies – Europeans and Indians. However, the author disagrees with this approach to the revolt. Therefore, Knaut seeks to “tell the story… to breathe new historical life into the experiences of its central actors – the Pueblo Indians.”1 The author also seeks to reinterpret the available information concerning this era and highlight enhanced attention to the historical and academic discourse of Borderlands history.

Thesis Outline and Defense

Knaut first outlines the book’s thesis by discussing historical misconceptions and fallacies concerning the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 as presented in the majority of the available primary and secondary academic and historical materials. The book’s research problem is the intentional failure to recognize the role of Pueblos in the precipitation of the revolt and the ultimate triumph over the Spaniards in New Mexico. The author argues that by “emphasizing the conflict simply as one between two monolithic bodies – Indians versus European, these interpretations overlook the complexities of the dynamic at work in the decades leading to the revolt.”2 The author uses these arguments to highlight the historical misconceptions on this topic before defending his thesis. Knaut does not blame historians and anthropologists who have propagated these historical fallacies concerning the Pueblo Revolt. On the contrary, he points to the factors that led to the distortion or misrepresentation of the facts. He says, “…the lines that separated Pueblo Indians from European newcomer in the early part of the century blurred considerably over the ensuing generations, allowing for a fluidity between the two segments of society that belied any clear-cut divisions based on race alone.”3

After detailing the historical gaps and the associated fallacies, the author defends his thesis by discussing the active role of Pueblos in the 1680 revolt. He does this by using both primary and secondary sources to “glean the Pueblo role in shaping the history of seventeenth-century New Mexico and in carrying out successfully the revolt of 1680.”4 The author reinterprets the available historical documents and reads between the lines to merge the Hispanic and Pueblo worlds for a better understanding of how the two groups are associated with each other. The common perception is that the Pueblos were passive pawns living under the manipulation of the Europeans. However, the author uses credible resources to prove that Pueblo always resisted Spanish domination. Knaut argues that Pueblos could not accept “the bitter pill of conversion”5 or live under the “Spanish and Franciscan yoke.”6 Therefore, as opposed to common assumptions, the Pueblos bided their time to wait for the opportune moment to revolt and rid themselves of the Spaniards. According to the author, this tactical move explains why the revolt was successful at a time when most of such uprisings failed.

Usage of Primary and Secondary Sources

The author admits that one of the challenges when compiling the book was the availability and authenticity of primary sources that could be relied on in this work. As such, the book has more information about the Hispanic population in New Mexico than that of the Native Indians. Nevertheless, the author tries to incorporate relevant information from both primary and secondary sources. He uses 21 primary and 67 secondary sources to compile the book. The sources are credible because the majority of them are well researched, and they meet the threshold to be classified as academic materials. Despite the limitations of the credibility of the available primary sources, Knaut does an excellent job by collecting and synthesizing the role of the Pueblos in shaping the history of New Mexico in the seventeenth century.

Bibliography

Knaut, Andrew L. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 : Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Footnotes

  1. Andrew L. Knaut The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 : Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), xvii.
  2. Knaut, The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, xv.
  3. Knaut, xvi.
  4. Ibid., xiv.
  5. Ibid., 77.
  6. Ibid., 86.
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IvyPanda. 2021. ""The Pueblo Revolt of 1680" by Andrew L. Knaut." July 11, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-pueblo-revolt-of-1680-by-andrew-l-knaut/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"The Pueblo Revolt of 1680" by Andrew L. Knaut'. 11 July.

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