The Indian Who Defied Coronado


The Indian Who Defied Coronado

NONFICTION — History remembers Coronado, who in 1540 invaded Pueblo country in what is now the United States. But few have ever heard of Xauían, who led the resistance against  Coronado in America's first named Indian war.

Xauían (pronounced Sha-WEE-an) rallied all the Tiwa pueblos against Coronado's expedition of about 375 Spaniards and a few other Europeans plus an estimated 2,000 Mexican Indian warriors. When Coronado confiscated so much food and clothing that Tiwa chances of surviving winter became jeopardized, warfare began along the Rio Grande valley just north of present-day Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The war became the now mostly forgotten Tiguex War. It occurred 80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

Xauían and the guerilla war afterward that his resistance inspired was so effective that Coronado retreated to Mexico. Spaniards did not return to Pueblo country for 39 years.

If interested in this article, you might want to read the full account of the Coronado expedition and Tiguex War in my historical novel, Winter of the Metal Peoplewhich adds the Pueblo point of view for the first time to the sixteenth-century Spanish record.

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