Tigua Tribe

Tigua Indians (Spanish form of Ti’wan, pl Tiwesh’ (span. Tiguex), their own name). A group of Pueblo tribes comprising three geographic divisions, one occupying Taos and Picuris (the most northerly of the New Mexican pueblos) on the upper waters of the Rio Grande; another inhabiting Sandia and Isleta, north and south of Albuquerque, respectively; the third division, living in the pueblos of Isleta del Sur, Texas, and Senecu del Sur, Chihuahua, on the lower Rio Grande. At the time of Coronado’s visit to New Mexico in 1540-42 the Tigua inhabited Taos and Picuris in the north, and, as today, were separated from the middle group by the Tano, the Tewa, and the Rio Grande Queres (Keresan). The villages of this middle group in the 16th century extended from a short distance above Bernalillo to the neighborhood of Los Lunas and over an area east of the Rio Grande near the salt lagoons of the Manzano, in a territory known as the Salinas, from Chilili to Quarai. The pueblos in the south, near El Paso, were not established until late in the 17th century.

Tigua Indians History

The Tigua were first made known to history through Coronado’s expedition in 1540, whose chroniclers describe their territory, the province of Tiguex, on the Rio Grande, as containing 12 pueblos on both sides of the river, and the people as possessing corn, beans, melons, skins, and long robes of feathers and cotton. The Spaniards were received by them with friendliness, but when it was decided to spend the winter of 1540-41 in Tiguex province, and the Spaniards demanded of the natives “about 300 or more pieces of cloth” with which to clothe the army, even stripping the cloaks and blankets from their backs, the Indians avenged this and other outrages by running off the Spanish horse herd, of which they killed a large number, and fortifying themselves in one of their pueblos. This the Spaniards attacked, and after exchanging signs of peace the Indians put down their arms and were pardoned. Nevertheless, through some misunderstanding the Spaniards proceeded to burn at the stake 200 of the captives, of whom about half were shot down in an attempt to escape the torture to which the others were being subjected. Says Castaneda, the principal chronicler of the expedition: “Not a man of them remained alive, unless it was some who remained hidden in the village and escaped that night to spread throughout the country the news that the strangers did not respect the peace they had made.” As a result of this ill-treatment the Tigua abandoned all but two of their villages, one of which was also known to the Spaniards as Tiguex (see Puaray), into which they took all their stores and equipped themselves for the inevitable siege. Every overture made by the Spaniards toward peace was now received with derision by the natives, who informed them that they “did not wish to trust themselves to people who had no regard for friendship or their own word which they had pledged.” One of the Tigua villages was surrounded and attacked by means of ladders, but time and again the Spaniards were beaten off, 50 being wounded in the first assault. During the siege, which lasted 50 days, the Indians lost 200 of their number and surrendered 100 women and children. Finally, the water supply of the natives became exhausted, and iii an attempt to leave the village at night and cross the river with the remainder of their women, “there were few who escaped being killed or wounded.” The other pueblo suffered the same fate, but its inhabitants apparently did not withstand the siege so long. In attempting to escape, the Spaniards pursued “and killed large numbers of them.” The soldiers then plundered the town and captured about 100 women and children.

In 1581 Chamuscado, with 8 soldiers and 7 Indian servants, accompanied the Franciscan missionaries, Agustin Rodriguez, Francisco Lopez, and Juan de Santa Maria, to the country of the Tigua, but all three were killed by the Indians after the departure of the escort. In 1583 Antonio de Espejo with 14 Spanish followers journeyed to New Mexico, and on his approach the Indians of Puaray, where Rodriguez and Lopez had been killed, fled for fear of vengeance. This was the pueblo, Espejo learned, at which Coronado had lost 9 men and 40 horses, thus identifying it with one of the Tigua villages besieged by Coronado 40 years before. In 1591 Castaño de Sosa also visited the Tigua, as did Oñate in 1598, the latter discovering on a wall at Puaray a partially effaced native painting representing the killing of the three missionaries.

In 1629, according to Benavides, the Tigua province extended over 11 or 12 leagues along the Rio Grande and consisted of 8 pueblos, with 6,000 inhabitants. This reduction in the number of villages was doubtless due to the effort of the Spanish missionaries, soon after the beginning of the 17th century, to consolidate the settlements both to insure greater security from the predatory Apache and to facilitate missionary work. Thus, in 1680, the time of the beginning of the Pueblo revolt, the Tigua occupied only the pueblos of Puaray, Sandia, Alameda, and Isleta, all on the Rio Grande. The population of these towns at the date named was estimated by Vetailcurt at 200, 3,000, 300, and 2.000, respectively.
The eastern portion of what was the southern area of the Tigua up to about 1674 was limited to a narrow strip along the eastern slope of the Manzano mountains, beginning with the pueblo of Chilili in the north, including Tajique and possibly a pueblo near the present Manzano, and ending with Quarai. In this area in 1581, according to Chamuscado, were 11 pueblos. To the east, however, lay a country bountifully supplied with game, including the buffalo, while round about the settlements in every direction were the saline lagoons from which this section of country derives its name and from which salt was obtained for barter with tribes as far south as Parral in Chihuahua. Yet the aborigines were beset with many disadvantages. Their range was for the greater part an inhospitable desert, exposed to the depredations of the ever-wily Apache, whose constant raids resulted first in the abandonment of Chilili between 1669 and 1674, then Quarai, about 1674, its inhabitants joining those of Tajique pueblo, which a year later was also permanently abandoned. Most of these villagers of the Salinas fled for safety to their kindred at Isleta on the Rio Grande, where they remained until 1680. At this date began the Pueblo revolt against Spanish authority, in which participated the Tigua of Taos and Picuris, as well as of Isleta, Sandia, Alameda, and Puaray. On the appearance of Gov. Otermin in his attempted reconquest of the country in the following year all these pueblos except Isleta were abandoned and were afterward burned by the Spaniards. Isleta was stormed and about 500 of the inhabitants were made captives, most of whom were taken to El Paso and afterward settled in the pueblo of  Isleta del Sur, Texas. Of the remainder of the population of Isleta del Norte and Sandia a large portion fled to Tusayan, where they lived with the Hopi until 1709 or 1718, when the Isletaños returned and reestablished their pueblo. The Sandia Indians, however, who numbered 441, appear to have remained with the Hopi, in a pueblo called Payupki on the Middle mesa until 1742, when they were taken by Padres Delgado and Pino to the Rio Grande and settled in a new pueblo at or near the site of their old one. Alameda and Puaray were never reestablished as Indian pueblos.

The following are the Tigua pueblos, so far as known:


  • Isleta
  • Isleta del Sur
  • Picuris
  • Sandia
  • Senecu del Sur
  • Taos


  • Alameda
  • Bejuituuy
  • Carfaray
  • Chilili Isleta (N. Alex.)
  • Isleta del Stir
  • Kuaua
  • Lentes
  • Manzano
  • Mojualuna
  • Nabatutuei
  • Natchurituei
  • Pahquetooai
  • Picuris
  • Puaray
  • Puretuay
  • Quarai
  • San Antonio
  • Sandia
  • Santiago
  • Senecu del Stir (includes also Piro)
  • Shumnac
  • Tajique

The following pueblos now extinct, were probably also Tigua:

  • Acacafui
  • Guayotrf
  • Henicohio
  • Leyva
  • Paniete
  • Poxen
  • Ranchos
  • Shinana
  • Tanques
  • Torreon
  • Trimati
  • Tuchiamas
  • Vareato

Pueblo, Tigua,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

6 thoughts on “Tigua Tribe”

  1. Hello my great great great grandfather I found enrolled in the indian census Rafael Apadaca as tribe Tihuas also his daughter my great great grandmother is in the Indian census I have death certificate showing I am related can. I enroll ? and ihave gotten all the death certificates down the line to my dad
    Thank you

  2. Norrita A Sanders

    My name is Norrita Sanders.I am writing on behalf of kacy Gonzalez. she has found her DNA results say she is 53 percent Native American. Her GR Grandmother Juanita Gracia (spelled correctly) is buried on an indian reservation in Texas ,Im asking if you would have any records that we might locate this woman . Her son Raul Gracia Gonzlez was born July 14th 1922 in Bishop Texas. so she was prob born around 1900 Nanarita79@gmail.com 201-919-2525

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top