Not far from Albuquerque, NM, there are the remains of several missions put up by early Spanish colonists with tribal labor. While they are quite lovely, they are reminders of a domination that obliterated the earlier pueblo culture.
In the desert areas of New Mexico, there are ruins of many missions that early settlers built under the idea that the native tribes should be settled into the kind of towns with churches they were familiar with. The changes they meant to impose on another culture were named ‘civilization’, although the practices they used were enslavement and repression. The Spanish reigned out of Mexico, with priests coming into tribal areas to ‘convert’ the native population to the church and its practices.
What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of the early contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials. The ruins of four mission churches, at Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira and the partially excavated pueblo of Las Humanas or, as it is known today, Gran Quivira. Established in 1980 through the combination of two New Mexico State Monuments and the former Gran Quivira National Monument, the present Monument comprises a total of 1,100 acres.
The missions are sometimes referred to as the “Ghost” towns of the area, and existed without much recorded history. The local Puelbo tribes had settlements that preceded Spanish invasion and imposition of another culture. We have a lot to learn from those early times that have been essentially wiped out.
Another locale that exhibits the early Spanish culture the pueblo Indians built for their invaders is the Grand Quivira.
Once, thriving Native American trade communities of Tiwa and Tompiro language-speaking Puebloans inhabited this remote frontier area of central New Mexico. Early in the 17th century Spanish Franciscans found the area ripe for their missionary efforts. However, by the late 1670s the entire Salinas District, as the Spanish had named it, was depopulated of both Indian and Spaniard. What remains today are austere yet beautiful reminders of this earliest contact between Pueblo Indians and Spanish Colonials: the ruins of three mission churches, at Quarai, Abó, and Gran Quivira and the partially excavated pueblo of Las Humanas or, as it is known today, the Gran Quivira pueblo.
What the local pueblos know of their early culture is unfortunately much obscured by the teachings the Spanish church brought to them.
The church leaders of the time did not wipe out the pueblo culture totally, and around the missions there are also kivas where the inhabitants practiced their earlier ceremonies.