Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Richard M. Leventhal


This dissertation presents the results of investigations into the archaeological, textual, and other evidence of the Pueblo Revolt period (A.D. 1680-1696), with a close focus on the events of the Spanish reconquest (1692-1696) at, Tunyo, Powhogeh Owingeh (San Ildefonso Pueblo), New Mexico. Guided by the tenets of traditional Pueblo values and Indigenous archaeology, this research examines the character and expressions of the Tewa Pueblos’ assertion of sovereignty in the face of Spanish settler colonial authority. The overarching goal of this research is to present an indigenized history of events that occurred at Tunyo and in the surrounding Tewa landscape during the height of the Spanish reconquest in 1694. Adopting a place-based approach that emphasizes the ontological interdependence of time, space, and history, this research merges Pueblo oral histories, Spanish documentary accounts, ethnohistorical studies, and archaeological data. This research also addresses the false dichotomy between “history” and “prehistory,” resisting the implicit assumption that European records provide the most authoritative sources of information on Indigenous encounters with settler colonialism. The core of this research involves the cartographic mapping and analyses of digital terrain models of Tunyo created by data collected in aerial photography surveys using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones. The evidence indicates that the Tewa people successfully created and defended alternative village sites during Vargas’s siege in 1694. The Tewa adapted to Tunyo’s unique geology by using innovative construction techniques that resulted in distinct village architectural patterns. Oral traditions collected at San Ildefonso and elsewhere reveal that the breadth of the Tewa resistance extended far beyond Tunyo, to places and villages previously occupied by Tewa ancestors. This study concludes that the Tewa strategies of resistance were grounded in spiritual understandings of landscape and contingent on mobility to ancestral places, not only for strategic purposes, but for spiritual reasons. Pueblo survival strategies, and the agency of people and place across time and space, are best understood through holistic analyses that incorporate Pueblo ontologies. Tewa peoples’ engagements with their landscape, and with Tunyo in particular, have long been shaped by reciprocal relationships that embody and transcend the spans of history and time.

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