A Visit to Fiesta Santa Fe 2014

Attractions in Santa Fe New Mexico includes many celebrations and cultural events throughout the year. Fiesta Santa Fe is one that you don’t want to miss.

Over 300 years old, Santa Fe’s biggest celebration is a ten-day series of bailles, processions, parades, and musical performances which is all a part of Fiesta de Santa Fe. The historic capital of Santa Fe is one of the oldest in the United States. The capital was established by Don Juan de Oñate at San Gabriel in 1598. It was relocated over 30 miles south to the foot of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains where Santa Fe was founded in 1610.

As a side note, the site of San Gabriel is a National Historic Landmark and is located on the Río Grande in the northern region of present-day New Mexico. A cross and a memorial mark the site which is accessible to the public.

fiesta santa fe dance

Fiesta Santa Fe dance exhibitions

The Beginnings of Fiesta de Santa Fe

Fiesta de Santa Fe is one of the largest annual events in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is all about a celebration of cultures (Spanish and Native American) coming together in peace.

It commemorates the time in 1692 that Diego de Vargas reentered Santa Fe, twelve years after the Pueblo Revolt drove the Spaniards out of Nuevo Mexico.

Fiesta de Santa Fe honors and preserve the annual commemoration in the spirit and letter outlined in the 1712 Santa Fe City Council Proclamation which was formally signed twenty years after Spanish reconquest.

In 1712, the governor of the province of Nuevo México through his Captain General and spokesman, Juan Paez Hurtado, proclaimed that year and each thereafter a Fiesta would be held specifically honoring the bloodless reconquest of Santa Fe twenty years prior. It was decreed that the Fiesta should be one of religious thanksgiving and general celebration. The nine men whose signatures were affixed to the document obligated themselves and posterity to this perennial festival for all future time.

fiesta santa fe events

The Santa Fe plaza during Fiesta Santa Fe

The Actual Reconquest of Santa Fe

The fact is that ever since the Spaniards were expelled from Nuevo Mexico due to the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, the government in Mexico was planning for an eventual reconquest.

The reconquest of Santa Fe and Nuevo Mexico is often referred to as a “bloodless reconquest“. After several attempts, Diego de Vargas entered Santa Fe on September 14, 1692 and took control of the Santa Fe plaza. There was a short confrontation with Indians followed by a peaceful agreement.

This reconquest reestablished the Roman Catholic Church in Santa Fe after the churches had been destroyed and the friars slaughtered during the 1680 revolt.

It was also very important to Spain that Nuevo Mexico be retaken to solidify Spain’s presence in the region especially with the French expansion into the plains region from the Great Lakes.

De Vargas journeyed back to Mexico in 1693 for the purpose of leading colonists back north. There were a few settlers that did stay in the north after the Pueblo revolt but there were not many. There also were settlers in Mexico and around El Paso who didn’t relish going back north. Nevertheless, colonists were gathered together and the journey back to Santa Fe commenced.

During de Vargas’ second reentry into Santa Fe in 1693 the situation was a bit different. Many historians consider the reconquest to have taken place over the years 1693-1704. It took time for Spain to truly bring their rule to the greater region.

Many Pueblo Indians welcomed the Spaniards back but a good many also did not. Those who did welcome the Spanish back were hoping that the Spanish presence would help stop raids against them from Apaches and Navajos. It actually took some bloody conflicts in an assortment of pueblos before Spain truly had control of the region.

Today’s Fiesta Santa Fe

Thousands of people return every year to Fiesta Santa Fe in celebration of 300 year old customs. Enjoy legendary crafts, music, dancing, food and pageantry. Many Fiesta goers discover local cuisine and regional wines at both gourmet restaurants and food booths lining the plaza.

You may enjoy the articles from Trips Into History and our Western Trips site on the links below…

Barrio de Analco and the Country’s Oldest House

Historic Dining Cars of the Santa Fe Railroad

A Drive from Santa Fe to Taos New Mexico

santa fe fiesta plaza photo

Santa Fe’s plza at sunset during Fiesta 2014

La Fiesta de Santa Fe is a celebration created by the conquistadors who helped establish colonies here. Fiesta de Santa Fe has a special place in the hearts of Santa Feans.

Fiesta attendees can celebrate culture and history by retracing the actual steps of the city’s ancestors through the center of town, or by joining a candlelight procession on the last day of the Fiesta.

Each spring the Fiesta Council holds a contest in which local men and women compete to play the roles of General Don Diego de Vargas and La Reina de la Fiesta de Santa Fe. Reenactments of the Knighting and Coronation of Don Diego de Vargas and La Reina de Santa Fe are highlights of the annual festival.

pet parade santa fe fiesta

Fiesta Santa Fe Pet Parade

Plan Your Visit

One must visit attraction in Santa Fe is Fiesta Santa Fe. Santa Fe’s Fiesta is held the second weekend of September. Fiesta is attended by people throughout the world and hotel reservations are generally required well in advance.

The following websites will give you much more information about Fiesta Santa Fe and the events included…



(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)


Barrio de Analco and America’s Oldest House

Santa Fe New Mexico and America’s Oldest House

Santa Fe New Mexico was officially settled in the year 1610. Santa Fe served as the Spanish capital of Nuevo Mexico, the present day state of New Mexico.

oldest house in america

Oldest house in the U.S.

When you visit Santa Fe be sure to take a short stroll up the Old Santa Fe Trail from the Plaza area to De Vargas Street. The adobe structure located just east of the Old Santa Fe Trail is recognized as the oldest house in the United States.

There is a bit of controversy regarding this distinguished title however the owners of the structure located at 215 East De Vargas Street are duly recognized by the city of Santa Fe. The structure was reportedly built in 1646 and has been standing on this site through Spanish, Mexican and United States rule. The other two structures in the United States which claim a similar title are the Gonzalez-Alvarez House in St. Augustine Florida and the Fairbanks House in Dedham Massachusetts.

It’s interesting visiting this house to understand how people lived in this part of North America during the 1600’s. You’ll see some unique artifacts and photos. The structure demonstrates authentic old adobe architecture which is much different than the new adobe structures you see today.

oldest church in america

Oldest Church in the U.S., San Miguel, Santa Fe, NM

Barrio de Analco

San Miguel Chapel, often known as the oldest church in the country, is the key site of the Barrio de Analco National Historic Landmark District.

The Santa Fe neighborhood known as the Barrio de Analco which is centered around the San Miguel church, was established in the early seventeenth century.


The Barrio de Analco represented an active working class neighborhood of Spanish Colonial Heritage. The district contains numerous examples of Spanish-Pueblo architecture, characterized by the adobe construction indigenous to the Southwest.

The area where the oldest house is located is also one of the oldest neighborhood in Santa Fe, Barrio de Analco. Barrio de Analco is just south of the Santa Fe River and was established in about 1620.

san miguel mission santa fe new mexicoBarrio de Analco is a well known Santa Fe Historic District and is home to several other significant structures including the oldest church in America, the Chapel of San Miguel. This chapel is recognized as the oldest continuously occupied church in the U.S. built in 1626.San Miguel chapel in its present form goes back to 1710. The mission church has undergone structural and design changes over the many decades since.

Sunday mass is still held at the Chapel of San Miguel for those wishing for a full experience of the building’s past.

Also at 132 East De Vargas Street is the Gregorio Crespin House. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Gregorio Crespin House was built in 1720 and is now used for various community events.

barrio de analco santa fe

Barrio de Analco, Santa Fe, NM

The barrio settled by Mexican Indians and as mentioned above is just south of the Santa Fe River and thus south of the Plaza area.The Mexican Indians came northward with the Conquistadors.

San Miguel mission was severely damaged during the Pueblo Revolt and was repaired and rebuilt during the early 1700’s.

The Barrio de Analco served as a buffer for any Pueblo Indian attack coming from the south. As it turned, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was successful from the Pueblo Indian standpoint. The Spaniards were driven out of Nuevo Mexico for some twelve years finally returning successfully in 1692.

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Very Unique New Mexico Spanish Mission Church

Santa Fe’s Indian Market

The Bering Land Bridge National Preserve / Worth the Visit

A Visit to Fiesta Santa Fe

A very good book about old Santa Fe, it’s history and growth is Old Santa Fe by author James J. Raciti. You may also want to look for the book The Centuries of Santa Fe by author Paul Horgan.

A Santa Fe Visit Offers a Trip Back Into History

When you visit Santa Fe be certain to add the Barrio de Analco area and the Oldest House in America to your trip planner. It’s an opportunity to see the type of architecture during the very first years of Santa Fe’s existence. Be sure to take your camera along for some excellent pictures. The Barrio de Analco Historic District is a perfect embellishment to the history of Santa Fe.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

Attend Indian Market Santa Fe


indian market santa fe

Indian Market Events

Once A Year Event in Santa Fe

Indian Market truly is a premier event for Santa Fe New Mexico and the largest event held there every year. There are dozens of Native American cultural events that take place during Indian Market week.  Indian Art of course means painting, drawing, weaving, clothes, jewelry, pottery and much more.

All of these are on display at Indian Market and I know you will enjoy the event immensely. You’ll also see many Native American booksellers with one of a kind items. It’s estimated that well over 100,000 people attend the event each year. These include gallery owners, collectors and simply fans of Indian Art.

Since 1922

Indian Market started a long time ago as a partnership between local pueblos and community leaders. It has been held in Santa Fe every year since 1922.  In 1922 the event began as the first annual Southwest Indian Fair comprising some 3,500 works, including pottery, baskets, textiles, silver work, bead work and paintings.Today, the event is known to be the largest of it’s kind in the world.

indian market new mexico

An event during Santa Fe’s 400 year anniversary

Currently half of the board of directors of the SWAIA ( Southwestern Association for Indian Arts) are Native Americans and most are participating Indian Market artists.

The artists are Native/Indigenous people from over 100 federally recognized tribes and First Nations tribes from Canada. Some artists have participated for over 60 years and often times you’ll find several generations sitting in the same booth. Indian market involves some 600 booths. Their artwork is actually a big part of their lives and it’s a unique way of communication that lasts a lifetime.

Indian Market Week precedes the weekend Indian Market exhibition.

Indian Market Events Held During the Week

During the week there are previews and awards handed out with about $100,000 in prize money..There are several functions that are tied into Indian Market such as the Friday night press reception, the best of show announcement, a sneak preview of award winning art and a silent auction. I would also look into the Indian market auction gala usually taking place at the La Fonda Hotel on the plaza. SWAIA also bestows lifetime achievement awards during the weekend event.

santa fe plaza

Event at the Plaza Pavillion

Another unforgettable Indian Market event is the clothing contest which is held on Sunday morning from 9A-Noon. Children and adults model contemporary and traditional Native clothing.

Bring your camera because this is the photographed event of the week. Entertainment is also presented on the Plaza Stage from 1-4P during the weekend.

In addition to the artwork displayed you’ll also be able to sample an array of Native American food such as fry bread, Navajo tacos, roasted corn and other Native treats.

Indian Market has grown to the degree that Native Americans throughout the United States are represented as exhibitors. It is probably the largest single event in this country for displaying Native American art.

Many of the participating artists have attended the Institute for American Indian Arts as well as other universities. The Institute for American Indian Arts offers degrees in Studio Arts, New Media Arts, Creative Writing, Museum Studies and Indigenous Liberal Studies. The IAIA has graduated more than 3,800 students and welcomes students from the 563 federally-recognized tribes. As many as  112 tribes are represented on it’s campus.

indian market art

Exhibit booths on the plaza

The dates for the 2014  Indian Market in Santa Fe is August 18th -24th.

Visiting the Santa Fe Area

Of course there are many more things to do in August in Santa Fe while attending Indian Market. One is the Santa Fe Opera which also draws people each year from around the country.

Several of our photo article links on our Western Trips site will give you some good ideas for side trips while in Santa Fe for Indian market. They include a drive on the Turquoise Trail just south of Santa Fe…A visit to the Puye Cliff Dwellings, a short drive north and the old Spanish Mission San Francisco de Asis in Rancho Taos.

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New Mexico Rail Runner Train between Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Don’t forget to also visit the many galleries in Santa Fe including those on the famous Canyon Road. There’s nothing like the collection of art in Santa Fe. If you’re looking for great restaurants you’ll also find these in Santa Fe and there are very good restaurants available to fit any type travel budget.

The event is known throughout the world and you’ll no doubt see people in attendance from all over the world. Try to book your hotel early because it’s my understanding that many people book rooms a year in advance. If you’re planning on trying to attend this year’s event, it’s never too soon to book your accommodations.

Santa Fe hotels and Santa Fe restaurants are many and you’ll be able to locate lodgings and dining with little effort. The following site will give you a good list of accommodations and restaurants to choose from.  http://santafe.org/Visiting_Santa_Fe/Dine/index.html

If you’ve already attended Santa Fe’s Indian Market, chances are you’ll be back again. If you haven’t attended in the past, I highly recommend adding Indian Market to your vacation or road trip planner. It’s a very unique annual event only found in Santa Fe.

(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)

Santa Fe Railroad and Santa Fe

Santa Fe New Mexico, “The City Different“, can claim many unique attributes. For one thing Santa Fe’s 7,000 foot elevation makes it the highest state capitol in the United States. Santa Fe can also lay claim to being the oldest city in the U.S. being founded by the Spaniard Conquistadors in 1610.

cross of the martyrs in santa fe

Cross of the Martyrs, Santa Fe New Mexico

The Spaniards remained in control of this region up until the Mexican’s rebelled in the 1820’s, with the exception of the period of the Pueblo Revolt beginning in 1680 that expelled the Spaniards from the territory for some twelve years.

The Cross of the Martyrs pictured at left is in memory of those lost during the Pueblo Revolt.

Santa Fe New Mexico

Santa Fe evolved from being a rather sleepy southwest trading center to a modern day tourist destination of international acclaim. The way in which this occurred is a very interesting story. It’s a story that interweaves the opening of the west with the expansion of the transcontinental railroads. The Santa Fe Railroad, the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe, promoted both Santa Fe and the southwest culture.

Santa Fe’s prominence in the earlier part of the 1800’s was the fact that it was the final destination of the famed and important Santa Fe Trail. The trail that ran from Missouri through the Great Plains then into mountainous New Mexico was the first real commercial trade route between the U.S. and Mexican ruled New Mexico.

Trading on the Santa Fe Trail

palace of the governors

Palace of the Governors off Santa Fe Plaza

There was a great deal of trade going on between American’s and New Mexican’s prior to the breakout of the Mexican-American War. This was how northern New Mexicans received supplies that they couldn’t get elsewhere. It was a much easier trade route than having to rely on supplies from the very distant Mexico City government.

The United States Takes Control

The United States took control of New Mexico during the 1846 Mexican-American War and named it a U.S. Territory after the war,s end. General Kearney’s troops took over Santa Fe and New Mexico without firing a shot and the tale is that Kearney stayed in the inn which was then at the very site of today’s La Fonda Hotel on the plaza. The hotel was renamed the United States Hotel.

The territory’s capitol was Santa Fe and this new Union territory was vast in size. Essentially it comprised all of present day New Mexico and Arizona. The principle trade route to the new Union territory remained the Santa Fe Trail.

In Comes the Santa Fe Railroad

new mexico rail runner

New Mexico Rail Runner Train

In the coming years the railroad would be the engine of growth, not only for the New Mexico Territory but for the entire western U.S. in general.

Because of the railroad’s place in economic expansion, railroads had a tremendous amount of power and influence. What better industry was there to not only transport people to the west but also to urge them to make the journey. The railroad also offered the first “comfortable” way to travel west. There were stagecoaches long before the transcontinental railroad but people traveling long distances by stagecoach did it out of necessity rather than by choice. If you read any pieces about the rigors of long distance stage travel you’ll understand what I mean. Stagecoach travel was not only less comfortable than by rail but the stagecoach was more susceptible to highwaymen (bandits).

The Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad

The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad was in a position to promote the beautiful southwest. The geologic formations in the American southwest are truly unique as are the cultural characteristics of a town like Santa Fe.

santa fe steam locomotive

Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Steam Locomotive

While Santa Fe did not lie directly on the AT&SF rail main line, and is connected to it by an 18 mile spur line, the railroad’s namesake town was the most publicized AT&SF destination by far.

The AT&SF of course was integral in the promotion of the Grand Canyon with not only it’s link from Williams Arizona via the Grand Canyon Railroad but also it’s building of the El Tovar Hotel at the Canyon’s south rim. The El Tovar was managed by Fred Harvey who had a very successful association with the railroad.

Fred Harvey has often been credited with helping to civilize the west. Interestingly enough, the southwest including Santa Fe had originally been advertised back east for it’s health benefits. Prior to it’s emphasis on Native American art and culture, the area was thought to be quite beneficial for tuberculosis patients (called consumption during the era). This was the subject of AT&SF’s first promotion of Santa Fe. The dry mild weather and the high elevations were considered to be a relief, if not a remedy, for consumptive sufferers. Both Santa Fe and Albuquerque and much of the southwest were destinations for people afflicted with the malady.

Promoting Santa Fe the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Way

The powerful and inventive combination of the AT&SF and Fred Harvey worked magic in the promotion of Santa Fe. While the Santa Fe railroad had it’s line into New Mexico decades before, the turning point for it’s promotion of Santa Fe began in 1925 when it purchased the La Fonda Hotel.

la fonda hotel in santa fe new mexico

Present day La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe NM

The La Fonda was unique, being situated at the very end of the famed Santa Fe Trail and also immediately adjacent to the Santa Fe plaza. The site had been operated as an inn for many decades under various names and ownership. At one point in the early 1900’s it had been destroyed by fire and then rebuilt by local investors. The hotel’s expansion and promotion however took off when the railroad bought the hotel in 1925.

At that time rooms were added and the Fred Harvey Company applied it’s expertise of quality hospitality. Nobody did more than Fred Harvey to standardize the quality of westward travel. Harvey’s expertise had it’s roots when he traveled extensively as a railroad freight agent and had the experience of sampling the less than terrific dining fare along the rail lines. He saw a great need for better quality and filled it. His association with the AT&SF gave him the resources to make his ideas a reality. He put his ideas to work all along the railroad’s line and eventually far beyond with his many Harvey House Hotels.

The Santa Fe Railroad, AT&SF, can rightfully be credited with making Santa Fe the tourist mecca that it is today. It was the railroad’s access to the town which spurred the arrival of artists. Many credit the railroad for the initial building of Santa Fe’s art community.

Old Santa Fe Railroad Depot, Santa Fe NMThe railroad went as far as commissioning several artists to put the regions natural beauty on canvas and these paintings adorned the AT&SF stations all along the line.

Brochures and news articles were disseminated by the AT&SF advertising department to great effect. This was powerful advertising for Santa Fe and it worked. The railroad drew on the areas natural attributes of a multicultural society. Native American, Spanish and Mexican cultures all combined to promote Santa Fe as “The City Different“.

The railroad and Fred Harvey also operated “Indian detour” as a motorcar tour of both Santa Fe and the surrounding pueblos. The “Indian detour” guides were selectively chosen and were quite knowledgeable. Evening lectures by “Indian detour” guides at the La Fonda were customary. Many of Santa Fe’s early tourists had only read about the region through eastern newspaper accounts and now the AT & SF Railroad and Fred Harvey offered a comfortable and highly interesting way to travel there and see the sights first hand. The railroad tapped into the curiosity of easterners.

Four additional articles we’ve published that you’ll find interesting include.

Southwest Chief

The Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive

Post Office Rail Car

Barrio de Analco and America’s Oldest House

Fiesta Santa Fe

amtrak southwest chief

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief stopping in Lamy NM, the nearest Santa Fe stop.

The railroad didn’t stop with the “Indian detour” motorcar tours. They also became involved in promoting cultural events themselves. One of these, and arguably the largest, was the “Fiesta“.

The Fiesta was first held in 1712 and was meant to commemorate the 1692 peaceful resettlement of the area by the Spaniard De Vargas. The year 1692 was when De Vargas led his Spaniards back to Santa Fe twelve years after the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.

After 1712 the Fiesta was held only every so often and eventually disappeared all together. Fast forward and the Fiesta was revived in 1919 by the efforts of Edgar L. Hewett, the Director of the Museum of New Mexico. The power of AT&SF marketing promoted the revival of Fiesta to the traveling public and the event remains today Santa Fe’s most popular.

Out of the three cultural segments making up Santa Fe, the railroad placed major emphasis on the Native American aspect. The southwest’s and particularly Santa Fe’s pueblo residing Native American’s were the main subject matter of AT&SF advertising. Native American’s sold their unique artistic jewelry in the lobby of the railroad’s La Fonda Hotel. The railroad turned pueblo Indian artistry into a profitable commercial venture.

It was said that prior to the railroad bringing in willing buyers, many Indians lacked the necessary tools to create their crafts. The sales to the AT&SF transported tourists helped the Indians buy the tools they needed to produce more authentic pieces. The market for authentic Native American crafts is still very evident today when you see genuine Native American items being sold in many stores on the plaza and daily in front of the Palace of the Governors on the north side of the plaza.

canyon road in santa fe

Santa Fe’s famous Canyon Road art galleries

The Lasting Effect of the AT&SF

Santa Fe through all the years has sustained it’s position as a highly popular tourist destination in large part from the early promotion efforts of the AT&SF Railroad. The railroad laid down a lasting foundation.

Many of the descriptions of Santa Fe in early railroad advertising brochures made it into books authored by Zane Grey and Charles Lummis, two well known writers of the American southwest. Santa Fe’s historical authenticity continues to draw tourists by the thousands. While people today travel to Santa Fe by automobile, airplane and certainly still by rail (Amtrak’s Southwest Chief), the modern perception of Santa Fe can be traced directly back to the AT&SF Railroad’s promotional campaigns of the early 1900’s.

(Photos from author’s private collection)

Fiesta Santa Fe

One of the most enjoyable Santa Fe traditions I attend every year is the Santa Fe Fiesta. In Santa Fe, the Fiesta celebration is a big part of how Santa Fe came to be and it’s tradition goes all the way back to when the Spaniards settled the area of northern New Mexico in the 1600’s. If you’re planning a Santa Fe vacation I would recommend that you consider a visit to Fiesta Santa Fe. It makes a good addition to your New Mexico travel planner. The pictures of Santa Fe below show scenes from past Fiestas. Images of Fiesta guarantee an excellent photo opportunity especially around the Santa Fe plaza.

To fully understand Fiesta and why it is so significant to Santa Fe you have to look at the Pueblo Revoltwhich occurred in 1680. The annual Fiesta celebration commemorates Don Diego de Vargas‘ peaceful reoccupation of the City of Holy Faith in 1692. This was twelve years after the pueblo Indians drove the Spaniards out of New Mexico (Nuevo Mexico then) as a result of the very violent Pueblo Revolt.

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Fiesta Santa Fe procession

The Spanish colonists fled to Guadalupe del Paso (Juarez Mexico today) and took with them from a burning mission the 29-inch wood carved Marian statue, La Conquistadora which was brought to Nuevo Mexico by the Franciscans in 1625. There were twelve years where the Spaniards, after retreating back down the Rio Grand to Mexico, were entirely absent from the area. There was a similar rebellion by Native Americans during the years 1634-38 which was called the Pequot War. The similarity was that it involved several Indian tribes banding together to fight the colonizers in New England. The difference of course was that they didn’t drive the British back across the Atlantic. The Indians were the ultimate losers in the Pequot War and didn’t regain many of their rights until centuries later.

The Pueblo Revolt itself is an interesting subject and there are several good books available on the topic. The main source of the pueblo Indian discontent with the Spaniards was due to a prohibition imposed on their traditional religion. The job of the friars who journeyed to the Nuevo Mexico was to convert the native population to Christianity. The hostility which was building up for decades also was caused by the Spaniards program of forced labor. The forced labor itself was bad enough but the effect it had on the pueblo economy also caused great problems. Much of the forced labor consisted of Indians having to erect Christian missions often timne at the same site where their sacred kivas were located. The causes of the Pueblo revolt of 1680 therefore involved both religious and economic reasons.

The Pueblo Revolt’s violence was such that the warring pueblo Indians killed twenty-one of the forty Franciscan friars and an additional three hundred and eighty Spaniards, including men, women, and children. Spanish settlers tried to flee to either Santa Fe or to the Isleta Pueblo which was one of the very few pueblos that did not join the rebellion. Most of the inhabitants of Isleta Pueblo, just south of Albuquerque fled to the Hopi area of Arizona or followed the Spaniards on their retreat southward along the Rio Grande.

During this twelve year period of Spanish retreat, the pueblo people inhabited Santa Fe. When you read about the history of this time you will see that the twelve year interval wasn’t necessarily peaceful. The basic problems that the now freed pueblos faced was fighting between themselves especially about which ones would occupy Santa Fe and there were attacks from outside nomadic tribes. The Spaniards themselves made a few raids into the area. Add to this a terrible drought and the local Indians had a pretty difficult time.

santa fe fiesta procession

Fiesta Santa Fe

The combination of all of these hardships laid the foundation for the Spaniards “reconquest” of the province. In 1692 Diego de Vargas, returned to Santa Fe with a half dozen soldiers and several cannons, one Franciscan priest and a converted Zia Indian war captain. The group entered Santa Fe before dawn and called on the Indians. Diego de Vargas promised clemency and protection if they would swear allegiance to the Spanish King and again take up the Christian faith. The Indian leaders gathered in Santa Fe, met with Vargas and the Zian war captain and agreed to peace. It was a bloodless reconquest although there were some holdouts who didn’t necessarily agree with the new arrangement. This was probably expected and not unusual since there were many different tribes involved. The new Spanish rule proved to be quite different from the one prior to 1680. As an example, the Spanish issued land grants to each Pueblo and appointed a public defender to protect the rights of the Indians. The Indians also had access to the Spanish courts to decide on future disputes.

san francisco street in santa fe new mexico

San Francisco Street in Santa Fe

The Fiesta celebration commemorates this peaceful arrival of the Spaniards in Santa Fe under de Vargas and the acceptance by the pueblo residents.  One of the key Fiesta elements is a procession which takes La Conquistadora from the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis to the Rosario Chapel  at Rosario Cemetery in Santa Fe. This is a procession which you don’t want to miss when you attend Fiesta. At the end of Fiesta week the statue of La Conquistadora is then returned to the Basilica Saint Francis.

Two interesting and related articles we’ve published are the Indian Art Museum on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill and the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza.

In my opinion, one of the best books you can read with a great amount of detail about the Spanish rule of Nuevo Mexico and the Pueblo Revolt is The Pueblo Revolt of 1680: Conquest and Resistance in Seventeenth-Century New Mexico by author Andrew L. Knaut.

Another big event which is held in September after Fiesta is the Zozobra burning. Zozobra represents “old man gloom“. The burning of this 50 foot high marionette is a symbol of ridding oneself of the hardships and despair of the past year. After this event there is a commemoration ceremony of Diego de Vargas’ return to Santa Fe. Also included during Fiesta is a pet parade around the Santa Fe plaza and a Fiesta Ball.

(Photos from author’s private collection)