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“Revised Memorial of 1634”

by Alonso Benavides

Franciscan Fray Alonso Benavides was an outspoken critic of Spanish practices that deprived the Indians of their rightful lands and restrained their freedoms. After serving as custos of New Mexico from 1624 to 1629, he also wrote glowing reports to the King of Spain and Pope Urban VIII praising the Pueblo Indians for their friendliness toward the Spaniards and their conversion to Catholicism. Here is how Fray Benavides described Acoma Pueblo.

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Sixteenth-century Franciscan Monk of New Mexico“Sixteenth-century Franciscan Monk of New Mexico,” Unidentified (Artist)

To the west of the Rio del Norte, at a distance of thirty leagues, lies the Peñon of Acoma, very famous for the many lives that it has cost both the Spaniards and the Indians. This was not only because it was impregnable but also because of the courage and industry of its inhabitants, who are of the Queres [Keres] nation. It is a steep cliff with only one narrow path hewn out by hand. On the summit there is a space of about half a league where the pueblo is situated. There are here more than one thousand residents of this Queres [Keres] Nation, and also of many others, delinquents and apostates, who have sought shelter and made themselves strong there. Great wars have been waged over this place.