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Juan Francisco de Trevino

Captain Don Juan Francisco de Treviño was the twenty‑fourth governor of New Mexico; and it is assumed that he come north with the caravans in 1675.

By Grace Meredith

Twenty‑fourth Governor of New Mexico


WPA Biography Project

Captain Don Juan Francisco de Treviño was the twenty‑fourth governor of New Mexico; and it is assumed that he come north with the caravans in 1675.

There is no doubt that during this time, the subtle and far‑reaching influence of the old medicine‑men among the Indians increased, and that danger of a serious revolt against the Spanish domination grew steadily more menacing. The peril of Apache raids alarmed even the most sanguine. All efforts to convert and pacify the Apache and Navajo Indians were unsuccessful; they raided Pueblo Indian villages that had at least in semblance, accepted Christianity; they burned and pillaged their dwellings; carried off many captives, and were extremely proficient In stealing hundreds of horses and other livestock.

To add to these troublous things in the province, crops failed be cause of drouth and some of the Indians faced starvation; the Mission Supply service had been changed and mismanaged and was not punctual, so that even the missions felt a lack of food and supplies.

Such was the state of affairs when Fray Francisco de Ayeta, the procurator‑general, made his first trip with the caravans arriving in New Mexico in 1675, and these were likewise the grave conditions which faced the new governor, Treviño, at the same time.

Almost all historians agree that by 1676, when pueblos and churches had been destroyed by the many Apache raids, and many Spaniards and converted Indians slaughtered, the different stations on the frontier had just about five soldiers each and that these were badly in need of ammunition and horses.

It seems advisable to mention here the most important "dissenter" to the Spanish rule: an Indian by the name of Pope, who was a Tewa native of San Juan, but who had for some years resided at Taos. Personally, he was brave and daring, and physically very strong. His mentality was keen, indeed, it might be said of him that he was a sort of "master mind.” His personal magnetism was very great and his influence extensive. He was also a medicine‑man and one who had achieved quite a reputation by his successes in several directions. Pope traveled quite a bit; and for an Indian he was suave and diplomatic, arid he had during the years so artfully prevailed upon the medicine‑men of other tribes, such as the Navajos end Apaches, that he had actually been admitted into their secret organizations. With much religious fervour, he had learned all their mystic rites and ceremonies, and they had given him knowledge, too, of their most potent and prized herbs and medicines.

There was at this time, quite a bit of trouble at San Ildefonso, and the friar in charge, Fray Andres Duran, who was also Superior of the Convento, had been ill and had suffered in many peculiar, unfathomable ways. The Tewa Indians living at San Ildefonso, were accused of bewitching him. Padre Duran himself, stated that these Indians had used their diabolical magic to put not only a spell upon him personally, but upon three or four other persons as well.

In consequence of this, a number of the Indians were therefore arrested and placed on trial for witchcraft. It is said that they pleaded guilty, in any case, as an aftermath of this trial, some forty‑three Indians were sentenced to be whipped and sold into slavery, and four more Indians sentenced to be hanged. Of these, one was hanged at Nambe, another in San Felipe, a third in Jemez, and the fourth hanged himself; the others were for the time being, put in prison in Santa Fe.

It was at this time that Pope began action, so to speak. Without attempting to start any particular revolt—on the contrary, being quite discreet and diplomatic, he proceeded to arouse enough independent feeling and tribal sentiment among his race, that a delegation of at least seventy Indian warriors proceeded to Santa Fe to "confer" with Governor Treviño!

It is written that they actually entered Governor Treviño's house with a ransom of “eggs, chickens, tobacco, beans, and peltries” and requested that their tribesmen be freed. Undoubtedly the governor was impressed—not only by this action on the part of the Indians, but by their number as well! It is likewise stated that Governor Treviño agreed to their request and that they departed in peace—BUT whether the Indian prisoners were actually released or no, is not stated.

Fray Ayeta felt grave fears for the future of New Mexico, and he decided that upon his return to Mexico City with the caravans in 1676, that he would advise the viceroy and ask for immediate aid. Either late in August or early in September, Ayeta did present a resume of affairs in the province to the viceroy. The procurator‑general gave many instances of the raids by the Apaches and of their terrible consequences, and he appealed for special assistance.

This appeal was not for the Franciscan missions, but for the strengthening of military defense, without which, he pointed out, all of New Mexico and the whole missionary endeavor would be ruined. Ayeta asked for fifty additional soldiers for the garrison, full equipment for them, a thousand horses and other supplies. The Franciscan Order of its own volition, offered twenty‑five wagons, which they owned, for the transportation of the soldiers.

The viceroy after conferences with his advisers, and convinced of the gravity of the situation and of the immediate need of reinforcing the defenses in New Mexico, granted the request, and ordered the treasury officials to prepare for the dispatch of the soldiers and horse as soon as was humanly possible. It was not until 1677 however, that Ayeta conducted the caravans north.

Meanwhile, in Santa Fe and indeed, in all of New Mexico, Governor Treviño was having serious problems to face.

Learning that the Indians had been secretly building kivas, their age‑old ceremonial houses, the governor ordered an investigation, instigated, it is assumed, by the Franciscan missionaries, who could not with all their labors, entirely eliminate the Indian religion.

Governor Treviño ordered that all such buildings found were to be destroyed.

While on the surface the Indians may have, at this time, seemed quiescent, underneath seethed the desire to throw off the Spanish domination. The attempt to suppress all of the native religious rites was by no means the least factor in the causes for resentment and revolt.

It is assumed that Treviño left New Mexico and returned to Mexico City in 1677.


History of Arizona and New Mexico by Hubert Howe Bancroft, The History Company, San Francisco, 1890.

New Mexico Historical Reviews for 1930. Four issues.

The Coming of the White Man, by Herbert Ingram Priestley, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1929.

Peñalosa, by Eugene Manlove Rhodes, Writers Editions, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1934.

Spain in America by Edward Gaylord Bourne, Ph.D., Harper & Brothers, New York & London, 1904.

Leading Facts of New Mexico History by Ralph Emerson Twitchell, Esq., The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1911.

New Mexico History and Civics by Lansing B. Bloom, A.M. and Thomas C. Donnelly, Ph.D. University Press, Albuquerque, N. M., 1933.

The Spanish Pioneers by Charles F. Lummis. A. C. McClurg & Co. Chicago, 1929.