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Pueblo of Zia Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Little is known of the early history of the Pueblo of Zia; however, it was visited by a number of the early Spaniards who explored New Mexico. Pedro de Castaneda mentions it in 1541, and Antonio de Espejo in 1582 described it as the principle pueblo of the Punames tribe. Zia was placed under the charge of Fray Andres Corchado by Governor Juan de Onate in 1598, Its inhabitants participated in the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. During Governor Domingo de Cruzate’s first attempt to reconquer New Mexico, he attacked Zia on August 1, 1689, and the ensuing battle was one of the bloodiest of the rebellion. The pueblo was wrecked, 600 natives were killed outright and some 70 captives were enslaved for the balance of the war. Zia never fully recovered from the damages it suffered during this battle. The fear of a similar attack, undoubtedly caused its inhabitants to faithfully honor the pledges of loyalty they made following this defeat. Their continuous friendly attitude towards the Spaniards caused a great deal of friction between them and the inhabitants of Jemez and Cochiti, who were in constant revolt until 1698.[1] The mission of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción was reestablished at Zia by Governor Diego de Vargas on October 24, 1692. An epidemic of smallpox greatly reduced the population of Zia, Santa Ana and Jemez in 1731. As a result of this decline, Santa Ana and Jemez became vistas of the Zia mission. Zia was still in existence when the United States acquired New Mexico.[2]

The pueblo’s claim for four square leagues of land was presented to Surveyor General William Pelham on October 16, 1856. In support of their claim the Indians filed a Spanish document which stated that Governor Crúzate examined Bartolomé de Ojeda, a wounded captive from the Pueblo of Zia, at El Paso del Norte on September 20, 1689. Upon being assured that the pueblo would not apostatize in the future, Crúzate granted the pueblo of Zia four square leagues of land to be measured one league in each of the cardinal directions from the corners of the church situated north of the pueblo.[3] Pelham approved the grant and recommended that it be included among the pueblo grants which he previously had transmitted to Congress for confirmation.[4] Congress accepted the recommendation and confirmed the grant by Act approved December 22, 1858.[5] The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor John Garretson in 6 859 for 17,514.63 acres and patented on November 1, 1864.[6]


[1] 2 Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 562 (1960).

[2] Ayer, The Memorial of Fray Alonso de Benavides 225-226 (1916).     

[3] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 36, 34th. Cong., 3d Sess., 3‑4 (1857).

[4] Ibid.

[5] An Act to Confirm the Land Claim of Certain Pueblos and Towns in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 5, 11 Stat. 374 (1858).

[6] The Pueblo of Zia Grant, No. O (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).