Pecos National Historical Park

     The zenith of Puebloan culture developed in northern New Mexico with  the Pecos peoples. Reaching its peak around 1500, this civilization built  pueblos of as many as fifteen rooms arrayed over five stories out of bricks  of mud and straw. A prosperous group, it traded actively with tribes from the  northern Great Plains in a vast marketplace, which stood on the grasslands  before their massive pueblo structure. The arrival of the Spanish in the  1540s hailed the beginning of the end of the great Pecos civilization. The  Spaniards came to Pecos with dual objectives:  religious conversion and  colonization. The assignment of a friar to Pecos led to tensions resulting  from the destruction of Indian idols. The construction of a mission church in  the immediate proximity of the pueblos exacerbated the already contentious  Spanish-Pecos relationship.
mission church
    Imposition of heavy demands by the Spanish led to the 1680 Pueblo  Revolt, a coordinated uprising by Puebloans at sites across the New Mexico  Territory. Indians sought out Spanish missionary and secular structures and  successfully forced the Spanish to temporarily relinquish control of the  colony. The Spaniards returned twelve years later, willing to make greater  accommodations for local religious beliefs. The Pecos were also more  receptive to the Spanish. Since the Spanish had left, Comanche raids had  taken an increasing toll upon the Pecos peoples. By the late eighteenth  century, the Comanches, population movement, and outbreaks of disease had  diminished the Pueblo civilization. The last of the Pecos left the site in  1838, joining relatives that had formed other tribes in the area.
mission convento (friar's quarters)
    History can be experienced at Pecos National Historical Park simply  by standing and observing the remains of the massive pueblo structures. The  active preservation of five-hundred year old pueblo bricks allows visitors to  appreciate the grandeur of architecture achieved by Puebloan cultures. Even  more striking are the mission church and neighboring pueblo, likely housing  those Pecos who willingly converted to Catholicism under Spanish rule. The  massive north pueblo, somewhat removed from the church, framed the  marketplace area that facilitated the Pecos' active trading with Plains  peoples and the Spanish. Kivas, sacred rooms, are stone-framed structures  built into the ground (constructed in a circular shape at Pecos), one of  which was built in the mission church's convento to spite the exiled Spanish  after the 1680 revolt. The north pueblo was also surrounded by low brick  walls, which interestingly were more likely social/political boundaries for  visitors than defensive structures. The park effectively interprets the site  for visitors through an introductory film, site markers with artists'  renderings of the historic buildings, and knowledgeable guides. Walking into  the remnants of these structures solidified the visit to Pecos as one of the  historical experiences of a lifetime.
sacred kiva

- Daniel Manuel

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