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Pueblo of San Felipe Grant

by J. J. Bowden

The Pueblo of Katishya, one of the principal settlements of the Queres Nation, was formed by a number of Indians from the Pueblo of Cochiti prior to advent of the Spaniards in the 16th century. When Coronado visited New Mexico in 1540, the Pueblo of Katishya was located at the foot of the Mesa de Tamita. Castaño de Sosa visited its pueblo in 1591, and probably was the one who gave it the saint’s name of San Felipe. Shortly after Juan de Oñate conquered New Mexico in 1598, the church organized a missionary program for the conversion of the Pueblo Indians and the Queres Nation was placed under the charge of Father Juan de Rosas. San Felipe became the seat of a Catholic mission shortly thereafter. Although the inhabitants of the Pueblo of San Felipe took an active part in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, no Spaniards were killed there. The pueblo had no resident priest and while the Indians were sacking the church, the Spaniards living in the vicinity were able to escape to Isleta.[1]

During the thirteen years following the expulsion of the white man from New Mexico, the Spanish governors led numerous expeditions seeking the reconquest of the lost province. In 1689, Governor Domingo Jironza Petriz Cruzate made an entrada into New Mexico. He met little resistance until he reached the Pueblo of Zia where he was confronted with the combined forces of the Tehua and Queres Nations. Although his small force was outnumbered ten to one, he decided to attack. While the Indians fought with valor, they were no match for the well armed and trained Spaniards. During this bloody battle, the Spaniards killed 600 Indians, took 70 prisoners and sacked and burned the pueblo. However, the Spanish force was so badly I crippled that Cruzate realized that it would be impossible to proceed against the Tegua and Tanos pueblos. Therefore, he reluctantly returned to El Paso del Norte.[2]

On September 20, 1680, Cruzate interviewed Bartolome de Ojeda, one of the captured Queres Indians, concerning the conditions of the Pueblo of San Felipe. Ojeda advised him that the San Felipe Indians undoubtedly would peacefully submit to Cruzate and reaffirm their allegiance to the crown upon his return to New Mexico. To encourage the Indians to surrender to him during the campaign which he had planned for the following year, Cruzate granted[3] the inhabitants of the Pueblo of San Felipe a tract of land bounded:

On the north, the Bosque Grande which is towards the east; on the east, one league; on the south, a little grove which is in front of a hill called Culcura, opposite the field of the Santa Ana Indians; and on the west, one league.

An unexpected revolt by the Suma Indians of the El Paso area prevented Cruzate from proceeding with his planned second entrada. New Mexico was not reconquered until 1692, when Governor Diego de Vargas received the submission of San Felipe and most of the other pueblos.[4] When Vargas returned in 1693, he found the San Felipe Indians had resettled on the northern end of a black mesa but honored their promises of allegiance to both the church and the crown.[5]

The Pueblo of San Felipe filed[6] its grant papers in Surveyor General William Pelham’s office on February 13, 1856, and requested the confirmation of their claim. In his Annual Report[7] for the year 1856, Pelham stated that he had examined the claim and recommended its approval by Congress. By Act approved December 22, 1858,[8] Congress confirmed the grant. An official survey of the grant was made in December, 1859 by Deputy Surveyor Rueben E. Clements for 34,766.86 acres. The grant was patented by the General Land office on November 1, 1864.[9]


[1] 2 Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico 432 (1962) ; and Prince, Spanish Mission Churches of New Mexico, 166‑167 (1915).

[2] Espinosa, First Expedition of Vargas into New Mexico, 17‑18 (1940).

[3] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 3d Sess., 504 (1856). This grant has been proven to be spurious. However, an authentic basis for the grant is found in the reference contained in the grant papers to the Santo Domingo and San Felipe Grant to the “league” of San Felipe. The Santo Domingo and San Felipe Grants, No. 142 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[4] Coan, A History of New Mexico 214 (1925).

[5] Forrest, Missions and Pueblos of the Old Southwest 124 (1962).

[6] The San Felipe Grant, No. E (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[7] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 3d Sess., 411 (1856).

[8] An Act to Confirm the Land Claims of Certain Pueblos and Towns in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 5, 11 Stat., 347 (1858).

[9] The San Felipe Grant, No. E (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).