The Cíbola Project is one of the most important scholarly projects on New Mexico in my lifetime. With the mission of creating access, the Cíbola Project team locates significant documents from the Spanish colonial period and expertly transcribes those documents using their high-level paleographic skills. These transcriptions are then published — along with copies of the original documents — as downloadable PDF packets. These packets are available free to the public via the University of California’s California Digital Library:












(Above left, archive document from the proceeding against María de Zamora, Ana Ortiz and María.  Above right, excerpt from Jerry Craddock’s transcription of the same document.  Click to enlarge.  From Cibola Project’s Witchcraft in San Gabriel: The Trial of María Zamora, New Mexico, 1607)

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Most the people who fled (or were taken from) New Mexico after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 were of Indigenous or mixed Spanish-Indigenous background.  The vast majority of these displaced New Mexicans were in service — servants, soldiers and slaves.  Every person was held captive by the violence of the region, some more than others.  No one was safe.

The chart below summarizes some of the details of the many displaced New Mexicans ‘found’ in Spanish colonial records from Casas Grandes to Valle de San Bartolome.  (This particular chart does not include New Mexicans who were living principally at Paso del Norte at the time, and does not make distinctions between those who returned and did not return to New Mexico.)  It is one of my many work-in-progress charts created to study and map Spanish colonial records for one of the books I am writing.  It is my attempt to make sense of the circumstances and see the unwritten in the written record. To promote access and discoverability, the chart contains hyperlinks to hundreds of archival records and other sources.

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At the time the U.S. invaded New Mexico, the bridge at the Pueblo of San Felipe was swept away.  The river ran rapidly and was about four feet deep.


(Cite: Report of Lieut. J.W. Abert, with illustration, circa 1846.)

In about 1684, Pedro II Duran y Chaves[1] and his extended family moved to the valley of Coyachic in the larger region inhabited by the Alta Tarahumara and other indigenous groups. This move into the region by the Duran y Chaves family and other families of New Mexico required deft negotiation with Spanish colonial authorities and local indigenous groups.

Years earlier, certain indigenous groups near and in the valley of Coyachic killed several Jesuit missionaries and devastated some of the indigenous pueblos administered by the Jesuits.[2] More immediately, in May of 1684, Sumas, Mansos and other indigenous groups attacked the mostly New Mexican community at Janos and Casas Grandes. Reports of the attacks at Janos-Casas Grandes quickly circulated in northern Nueva España.[3] The extended Duran y Chaves family and their friends would have been particularly sensitive to such reports, as they were violently displaced and still traumatized by the Pueblo Revolt in New Mexico in 1680 and 1681.[4] Peace was paramount.[5]

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The Fondo Colonial of the Parral Archive (now online) reflects a paper and archival culture — one that valued the making and keeping of correspondence, reports, summaries, indices and the details. The imaging of this collection captures stories and drama, as well as the beauty of handwriting, creases, spots and stains. It is truly a precious gift to historians, independent scholars and to the descendants of those represented in the records.

There are many records in the Fondo Colonial for persons interested in New Mexican history, and the interconnection between Nuevo Mexico and Nueva Viscaya.  For example, there is a set of records from 1696 related to Bartolome Gomez, an indigenous man of the Piro nation, asking for lands near the lands of Tomas Chavez and near the mines of Santa Rosa de Cusihuiriachi.  Bartolome Gomez, Tomas Chavez, and Sebastian Herrera – all from New Mexico – signed documents in this particular set of documents.  (Years earlier, these men and their families had fled south from New Mexico during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.)

Bartolome_GomezFor more, visit the Fondo Colonial, seccion Gobierno y Administration, serie Minas y Terrenos, AHMP.FC.A17.018.394, by clicking HERE.

Thanks to the Parral Archive and the Hispanic Heritage Project!

Today is a very important day for those interested in the historical records of the people of northern Mexico and the U.S. southwest.   More forthcoming … very exciting …


1776, Notebook (Courtesy of the Parral Archives)