The Unfortunate Colony (Complete Tale)



I.  Cibola


At the fin de siècle

myths are renewed,

and Cibola re-sought

for thought to be true.


Wealth! beyond measure,

there for the leisure

to take for España,

the King, and their God;


but of that brought back,

was fraught with the bad,

from a land that was called

New Mexico.


Oñate had failed.

His dreams were derailed,

the plans to resettle

the land with pure mettle,

the Spaniards from Old Mexico.


With all still unsettled,

it began to unravel;

and the ‘new blood’

thought better

of whether to go.


No gold.  No silver.

No arable land.

No city se dice El Dorado.

The shakers and movers

over-reached their dark hand.


The seventeenth century

had barely began,

the full realization

had slowly sank in:


No cities of gold.

No promised land.

The myth would enfold

a desert wasteland.


This story is then

of the story untold,

from the Reconquista,

the Conquistadores,

and the Entradas

for the cities of gold.


The myth and the mayhem,

in a land where one plans,

but the plans won’t unfold;

in the land of New Mexico

when the land was still old.



II.  Acoma!


Upon a hill, impregnable,

a mighty fortress, still:

a city in the sky

upon a mesa stood:

    Guarded Acoma!


Oñate came in Ninety-Eight,

incurred the wrath

and Pueblo hate,

demanding more

they could afford –

the Natives would deny!

and bring about

the total rout,

this City in the Sky.


Soldiers sent

would tear and rent

the precious food supply.

The Native reply:

of those they slew

there but few

to live they had to fly

themselves from cliffs

as birds adrift

out onto weightless sky.


Some were crushed,

a few survived

to live and thus devise

the plan of retribution:

the Spanish hard reprise.


Eight hundred dead,

six hundred left,

taken out alive.

All enslaved to real estate.

The men from twelve to twenty five,

a foot from each to amputate!

And loss of daughters and wives.


“To fear us, love us,

they must obey us.”

Oñate’s remonstrance.

No allowance for insurgence,

the model of dominance.

Prestige of fear!

To make it clear,

Spanish faith and Spanish rule,

the judge and punisher.


And yet, with Spanish settlement

a cast of pall was set:

the harsh and poor environment

too much if not too great,

replaced all hope, disillusionment!

with the wish to flee and escape.


The King had made 

the decision – “We stay!”

And stay on more, they did:

the punisher and punished,

the Pueblo and Spanish,

the unfortunate colony,

determined on to stay,

despite the way

to destitute health

and the life of penury.



III.  A Colony Lost


Three generations,

from Oñate to here,


and the changes appear:


Caste system conflict

among three estates –

Religious, Government,

and the Colonists –

coupled with Distance,

which turns to Neglect

and Form follows Function

to change and correct.


The land was harsh –

this has its own impact.

Isolation, survival at stake;

acculturation of the Third Estate.


Three of five castes

the latter did make:

the Colonists, the Pueblo,

and Athapaskan.


Conflict and concert,


led to a different



The Spaniard Rule

by Domination

weakened and lessened

through isolation.


Oñate would find

no recognition

from that of his own kind

to the new generation.


And the Pueblo people

still held to their ways,

though stifled and hidden,

and lessening these days.


They still had resentment

with the Vassalage phase

the Spanish Class System treatment

of Old Europe’s ways.


Persistence, refusal

of the New Faith

by many a Pueblo

incurred the Church hate.


The Church had become

the vestige reprisal,

the government gone

it held on arrival.


And it would uphold

its own form of law,

and punish the Pueblo

if they went afar.


A Colony Lost

by its Isolation,

survival at cost

through the depredations.


on occasion,

and their own invasions.

The harsh climate,

a nation of devastation.


and acculturation

in three generations

led change to the culture,

and the Pueblo, by now,

were ready for rupture.



IV.  Popé


The strands, knotted leather,

each knot of the tether,

a message, in passage,

denoting together

when Pueblo

would no longer hide.


A signaling system

that signified

breaking of the yoke

and cruel chaffing chide.


Augusto de Año,


The High Time had come,

the bell had been rung,

and the Pueblo people were ready.




The Second Estate,

that of the Church,

had fused to their power

that of the First,


who abandoned the Land

as too far away,

and, now, the Lord Manor,

a Franciscan Frey.


Franciscan theocracies

now were established,

and all Pueblo religious

deemed as deep heresy.


The rough life got worse

by Sixteen-Seventy:

drought and invasion,

both Navajo, Apache,

and the life of the Pueblo

grew harder, not easy –

the death rate increased.


From eighty-thousand

to a mere fifteen questioned

all reason to the bastion

of Spanish Inquisition –


To save the Soul

for the Here

and then After,

begged them to differ

with either Revelation.


The Pueblo practice

of Kachina dances

and the Kivas,

sacred rooms underground,

flew to the face

of the teachings of Jesus.

And ‘his’ grace, “in His place”

did not want found around.


The tension grew high

in Seventy-Five,

the Franciscans arrested

forty-seven men

and charged each of heresy,

for the practice of sorcery –

each one a sage,

each, someone’s ken,

each one, a medicine man.


Four were then sentenced

to be hanged until dead;

one, committed suicide, instead.


All the rest, were publicly whipped!

and then they were sent off to prison.

The last thing to bring

the Pueblo to reason,

the time ‘over-ripe’

to fall back to treason.

The Pueblo, en masse,

protested all of this,

of their sages encaged

in a prison.


And the Spanish complied,

let the men go –

they were too busy

in New Mexico

fighting Apache and the Navajo.


Among the released

was an Indian priest,

a medicine man, Popé.

A leader to nurture

all of his Pueblo

to revolt, in future.

And in five years more,

it was so.



V.  Rebellion


The Ninth day of August,


don Antonio de Otermín,

governor and captain

of His Majesty’s province,

New Mexico Land,

states he had  received

“Some noteworthy news

of general disturbance.”


The Pueblo Indians,

now Christian converted,

are “convoked, allied, and


to revolt from this Kingdom

and destroy all at hand,

in four day hence,

here, where we stand.


The night of the Thirteenth,

the marked day,

the Pueblo, Apache,

spurred on by Popé,

will fall upon Spaniards

with intent to slay,

or expel if not kill,

to drive them away.


The word of rebellion

was outed by runners –

captured, confessed,

and confirmed all the rumors.


On deerskin tethers,

a knot for each day,

that remained for Spain

to live and to die.


Apprised their intentions

were given away,

Popé stepped up

the revolt to next day.


Otermín reconnoitered,

reconnaissanced, forewarned

too late, too little

before they were stormed.


The Tenth day of August

the storm was unleashed.

Otermín attempted

to sue for the peace.

The Pueblo, past reason,

the time now for treason –

the wrong God

must now be impeached!


Otermín ordered

his people to gather,

assemble together

for strength and their safety,

at least for those left

in the city, Santa Fé.

And Otermín sent

his agents for help,

not knowing he sealed

each agent’s ill health.


Throughout on the one day,

of August Thirteenth,

reports of the death

and atrocity cam in –

Bad News! to the men,

the prisoners of Popé.


The Fifteenth, the Pueblo

fell onto the town –

thus, then, began

five days of siege

on the grandchildren

from Oñate’s age.


The Twentieth grew grim

for the Spaniards within:

No water, no food; no aid.


Otermín held

no action, bale:

to die here of thirst,

or die in a thrust;

the latter, cannot

be the worst.


They charged forth and fought

twenty-five hundred aught

Pueblo, outnumbering them.

A rout there ensued

upon their besiegers,

which allowed Otermín

to gather, thereafter, his men.


The decision was made

for the very next day,

to abandon the colony, and go.


The defeat was complete!

The Pueblo had won.

Eighty-two years

and Oñate was gone.


They had achieved

what none other had done,

before, or would do thereafter:

a complete setback

for Europe’s expansion.


But, Oh!

at what price,






©2013, Marvin Loyd Welborn

15 July 2013  Revised 4 November 2013


Poem’s Score: 3.2


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