“One leader perhaps said to another that the man from Oke Owinge has ‘the cunning of the fox and the heart of the bear’ . . . according to tradition, it was said that Popé was not arrogant but instead was always willing to learn, consider advice and to explain his decisions.”—Joe Sando, Pueblo Profiles
Po’pay was a Tewa spiritual leader who led the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, an anticolonial movement to remove the Spanish colonial presence in what is now known as the upper Rio Grande Valley. Born with the name Popyn, meaning “ripe squash,” Po’pay was convicted alongside dozens of Indigenous leaders for practicing “sorcery.” Following the public and violent punishment of these “criminals,” the Spanish authorities released the prisoners following the direct action of local communities. Upon his release from jail, Po’pay relocated to Taos, where in 1680 he organized a successful and well-planned assault on the colonial administration in Santa Fe. Carrying knotted deerskins to announce the day of the attack, Pueblo runners informed local communities about a scheduled August 11 uprising. Although commencing a day prematurely, thousands of Indigenous warriors engaged in a ten day offensive that forced the settler community (including Tlaxcala servants, mestizo residents, detribalized Natives known as genízaros, and Pueblo allies) to relocate hundreds of miles south to El Paso del Norte. The anticolonial struggles of Po’pay and his contemporaries remain a specter of the potential and possibility of Indigenous resistance to settler colonialism.
Printed at the worker-owned Stumptown Printers, Portland, OR.
This is #96 in the Celebrate People’s History Poster Series.
Dylan AT Miner is an artist, activist, and scholar. He is director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies, as well as associate professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, at Michigan State University.