The Moqui Tribe in History

The first visit of white men to the Moqui Pueblos was made in August 1540 by Don Pedro de Tobar one of the officers of Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition who visited the 7 villages of “Tusayan” or Moqui villages.

Cardenas one of Coronado’s officers with a small force also went through the Moqui towns in the latter part of 1640 to the Colorado River in search of a race of giants who were reported as living there.

In 1583 Antonio Espejo with a small force marched from the Rio Grande valley to the east of the Moqui villages and reached them by way of Zuñi.

Permanent occupation of New Mexico was made by a large number of Spaniards in 1591 and from that time to 1630 missionary priests came to Tusayan escorted by Spanish troops. They brought sheep oxen horses and fruit trees as gifts to the Moquis. This mission epoch is held in great contempt by the Moquis for although they admit that the Spaniards taught them to plant peach orchards and brought them other benefits yet they Oahu to have suffered many severities at the hands of the priests.

In 1598 Don Juan de Oñate the conqueror of New Mexico after receiving its submission moved westward in October or November in search of the South Sea. He moved west via Zuñi conquering it and then on to the Mohoquis (Moquis) whose chiefs surrendered the pueblos November 9 and 15 1508. He remained there until about December 20, 1598. He was hospitably received and generously treated. The Moquis organized hunting parties for his entertainment and made feasts of the game secured. They also guided the Spaniards through the country on their exploring expeditions. Oñate’s men found silver mines 30 leagues to the west of the Moqui pueblos and also large salt deposits.

In 1604 Oñate passed through the Moqui pueblos again on an expedition westward in search of the South Sea. Having started on October 7, 1604 from San Juan now New Mexico with 30 men accompanied by Padres Francisco Escobar (comisario) and San Buenaventura he passed through the Zuñi provinces which he says were “more thickly settled by hares and rabbits than by Indians” and “where the chief town of the 6 is now called Cibola or in the native tongue Havico or Ha Huico” and on to the “5 Moqui towns with their 450 houses and people clad in cotton” reaching the Pacific Ocean in January 1605.

Between 1598 and 1604 it is believed that the Moqui Pueblos nominally accepted Christianity. Of the period between 1600 and 1700 El. H. Bancroft volume XVII of his works page 349 writes:

At the beginning of the century [1600] the Moquis like the other Pueblos [probably] accepted Christianity were often visited by friars from the first and probably were under resident missionaries almost continuously for 80 years; yet of all this period 1600 to 1680] we know only that Fray Francisco Porras who worked long in this field converting some 800 souls at Aguatuvi [Awatubi] was killed by poison at his post in 1633; that Governor Penalosa is said to have visited the pueblos in 1661-1664 and that in 1680 four Franciscans were serving the 5 towns or 3 missions. These were José Figueroa at San Bernardino de Agnatuvi, José Trujillo at San Bartolome de Jonugopavi with the visita of Moxainavi and José Espeleta with Agustin do Santa Maria at San Francisco de Oraibe and Gualpi of whom lost their lives in the great revolt [of 1680]. From that time the valiant Moquis maintained their independence of all Spanish or Christian control. It is not clear that they sent their warriors to take part in the wars of 1680-1696 in New Mexico but they probably did so and certainly afforded protection to fugitives from the other pueblos. In 1692 they had like the other nations professed their willingness to submit to Governor Vargas; but in the following years no attempt to compel their submission is recorded. In 1700 however fearing an invasion they affected penitence permitted a friar to baptize a few children and negotiated in vain with the Spaniards for a treaty that should permit each nation to retain its own religion.

Recapture of the Moqui Pueblos in 1692

Governor Don Diego de Vargas Zapata Lujan in 1692 began the reconquest of New Mexico. On the 12th of September he was at Santa Fe. He moved rapidly over the country and recaptured the missions. At Jemez he sent a messenger to the Moqui pueblos. The Navajo Indians passed on before Vargas and warned both the Moqui Pueblos and Pueblos to place no faith in him. Vargas was as much interested in the discovery of certain mines of cinnabar and red ocher reported to lie to the west of the Moqui pueblos as he was in the recapture of the pueblos. From Zuñi be sent a second message to the Moquis asking them to give him a friendly interview at their pueblos where he Would soon arrive and assuring them that they were pardoned for their participation in the revolt of 1680.

After Vargas left in 1692 and until 1700 the Moquis were unmolested by the Spanish. From 1701 to 1745 the church was incessant in its demands for their conversion. The following history of the period 168-1745 is from H. H. Bancroft’s works volume XVII pages 363 364. It is made up of translations by officials and priests from the original documents and reports, which were in Spanish and Latin.

Meanwhile [in 1680 to 1700] the Moquis of the northeast maintained their independence of all Spanish or Christian control. The proud chieftains of the cliff towns were willing to make a treaty of peace with the king of Spain but they would not become his subjects and they would not give up their aboriginal faith. At intervals of a few years from 1700 there were visits of Franciscan friars to explore the field fur a spiritual reconquest or of military detachments with throats of war but nothing could be effected. At the first town of Aguatuvi the Spaniards generally received sonic encouragement; but Oraibe the most distant and largest of the pueblos was always closed to them. The refugee Tehnas, Tanos and Tignas of the new pueblo were even more hostile than the Moquis proper and by reason of their intrigues even Zuñi had more than once to be abandoned by the Spaniards. In 1701 Governor Cohere in a raid killed and captured a few of the Moquis. In 1700 Captain Holguin attacked and defeated the Tehua pueblo but was in turn attacked by the Moquis and driven out of the country. In 1715 several soi-disant ambassadors came to Santa Fe with offers of submission and negotiations made most favorable progress until Spanish messengers were sent and then the truth came out that all had been it hoax devised by cunning Moqui traders seeking only a safe pretext for commercial visits to New Mexico. The governor thereupon made campaign but in two battles effected nothing. From about 1719 the Franciscans understood that the Jesuits were intriguing far the Moqui field but beyond visiting Aguatuvi and obtaining some favorable assurances for the future they did nothing (except perhaps with their pens in Europe) in self defense until 1742 when the danger becoming somewhat more imminent two friars went to the far northwest and brought out 441 apostate Tiguas with whom they shortly reestablished the old pueblo of Sandia. Again in1745 three friars visited and preached to the Moquis counting 10,846 natives obtaining satisfactory indications of aversion to the Jesuits and above all reporting what had been achieved with mention of the Sierra Azul and Teguayo and the riches there to be found. Their efforts were entirely successful and the king convinced that he had been deceived, that a people from among whom two lone friars could bring out 411 converts could be neither so far away nor so hostile to the Franciscans as had been represented revoked all he had conceded to the Jesuits. With the danger of rivalry ended the newborn zeal of the padres azules and for 80 years no more attention was given to the Moquis.

From 1745 to 1774 the Moqui’s were free from Spanish invasion or attempt at control, but in 1776 religious zeal again insisted upon their control. Of this period H.H. Bancroft (volume xvii pages 260-263) writes as follows:

The conquest or conversion of the Moquis was a matter still kept in view though for about .20 years no practical efforts in that direction are recorded down to 1774-1776 when the project was revived in connection with the California expeditions from Senora.

Captain Juan Bautista de Anza made an experimental or exploring trip by way of the Gila to California in 1774 and it was desired that, in connection with his second expedition the region between Gila and Moqui towns should he explored. This region had not been traversed since the time of Coronado in 1540-1543 except by Oñate whose journey was practically forgotten. To find to way to Moqui was deemed important especially as it was proposed, it possible to occupy the Gila valley and some of its branches. The Now Mexican friars were called upon for their views and Padre Escalante developed much enthusiasm on the subject. In June 1775 or possibly 1774 he spent 8 days in the Moqui towns trying in vain to reach the Rio Grande de Cosninas beyond. In a report to the governor he gave a description of the pueblos (where he found 7,491 souls. Two-thirds of them at Oraibe in 7 pueblos on 3 separate mesas) and his ideas of what should be done.

In 1776 with a party of 9 including Padre Francisco Atanasio Dominguez he attempted to reach Monterey from Santa Fe by the northern route. The explorers reached Utah Lake, and thus accomplished results that should make their names famous; but fortunately (else they would not have lived to tell the story) when on the approach of winter provisions became scarce and the natives showed no knowledge of Spaniards in the west, lots were cast and fate divided that the journey to Monterey should be postponed. Accordingly they returned southeastward forded the Colorado came to the Moqui towns and returned to Santa Fe. The Moquinos though furnishing food and shelter would not receive presents. A meeting was held to discuss submission, but while willing to he friends of the Spaniards the people proudly refused to be subjects or Christians, preferring to “go with the majority” and be gentiles as the traditions of their fathers directed them. Not only did Escalante fail to demonstrate the merits of his favorite northern route, but earlier in the same year the central one was proved to be practicable; and this so far as the Moqui question was concerned was the only result of Anna’s California expedition. Padre Francisco Games leaving Anna at the Gila junction went up the Colorado to the Mojave region with a few Indian servants and after making important explorations in California started eastward for Moqui which he reached without any special difficulty in July. The Moquis however would not admit him to their houses or receive his gifts, cared not for his painting of heaven and hell and refused to kiss the image of Christ. After passing two nights in the courtyard he wrote a letter for the padre at Zuñi returned in sorrow to the Yamajabes or Mojaves and went down the Colorado finding his way to Bac in September.


Department of the Interior. Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States, Except Alaska at the Eleventh Census: 1890. Washington DC: Government Printing Office. 1894.

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