Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550–1626) was a conquistador from New Spain, explorer, and colonial governor of the Santa Fe de Nuevo México province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. He led early Spanish expeditions to the Great Plains and Lower Colorado River Valley, encountering numerous indigenous tribes in their homelands there. Oñate founded settlements in the province, now part of the present-day American Southwest. Today he is known for his brutal retaliation against the Acoma Pueblo in 1599, known as the Acoma Massacre or the Battle of Acoma Pueblo, where, following a dispute that led to the death of 13 Spaniards at the hands of the Acoma, including Oñate's nephew, Juan de Zaldívar, Oñate ordered that the pueblo be destroyed. Around 800-1000 Acoma were killed. Of the 500 or so survivors, at a trial at Ohkay Owingeh, Oñate sentenced most to twenty years of forced "personal servitude" and additionally mandated that all men over the age of twenty-five have a foot cut off. He was eventually banished from New Mexico and exiled from Mexico City for five years, convicted by the Spanish government of using "excessive force" against the Acoma people. Today, Oñate remains a controversial figure in New Mexican history: in 1998 the right foot was cut off a statue of the conquistador that stands in Alcalde, NM in protest of the massacre, and significant controversy arose when a giant equestrian statue of Oñate was erected in El Paso, Texas in 2006.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Speaking of monuments