- Revolt: An Archaeological History of Pueblo Resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico by Matthew Liebmann
Southwest archaeologists have recently begun to investigate the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and the subsequent dozen years of independence from Spanish colonial endeavors. The documentary record for this short period is sparse, and archaeology represents one avenue for understanding this key era in the history of the Southwest. Matthew Liebmann's Revolt provides an excellent synthesis of historical, archaeological, and indigenous perspectives on the revolt as well as the results of his recent fieldwork in the Jemez Province of northern New Mexico. The Jemez Province was a vital region during the revolt era, serving as a destination for refugees fleeing Spanish reprisals along the Rio Grande as well as one of the last redoubts of Pueblo resistance to the re-imposition of Spanish governance.
Revolt contains ten chapters, including an introduction and epilogue, while the remaining eight chapters are organized in three parts, covering in turn the colonial period and the revolt itself, the era of independence [End Page 229] from 1680 to 1692, and the reconquest from 1692 to 1696. In the introduction, Liebmann outlines his goal of producing a synthetic examination of the revolt viewed through the lens of anthropological theories of subaltern resistance, the origins of revitalization movements, and the use and redefinition of signs of the colonizers by the colonized. All of these viewpoints are crucial to understanding the Pueblo Revolt, which from its initiation was couched in strongly religious and symbolic terms as its leaders sought to revitalize Pueblo societies and religions as they drove the Spanish out of their native lands.
Part I provides an elegant synthesis of the historical and archaeological scholarship of colonial New Mexico interspersed with insights from Pueblo oral histories. This discussion provides a background for understanding the how and why of the revolt itself. Liebmann's account is commendably jargon free and serves as an excellent illustration of the potential for juxtapositions of archaeological and historical scholarship.
Part II represents the primary contribution of the book and turns to the investigation of the period of independence from 1680 to 1692. Liebmann discusses his fieldwork in the Jemez Province, conducted in collaboration with Jemez Pueblo, along with prior studies to provide a superb account of cultural revitalization, conflict, and factionalism during the revolt era. Through an examination of architecture, pottery designs, and rock art at three villages occupied roughly sequentially during this period, Liebmann makes a convincing case for Pueblo peoples' overt use of architectural and artistic symbolism to mark a break with colonial practices and a return to an idealized past. The initial promise of the revolt was then followed by the rise of inter- and intra-Pueblo factionalism that was later exploited by the Spanish.
Part III investigates the Spanish reconquest through a fusion of archaeological and historical perspectives, including Liebmann's own fieldwork at the final revolt-era village built in the Jemez Province. These chapters document the breakdown of the revitalization movement and increasing migration and factionalism among the Pueblos that left a strong imprint on the villages built at this time. The end of the book concludes with a chapter that expands the lessons of Liebmann's study beyond the Pueblo Revolt to anthropological and historical studies of anticolonial resistance more broadly. The volume concludes with an epilogue that discusses the Pueblo Revolt of 1696, an often overlooked event that was especially crucial in the history of the Jemez Province.
Revolt is a thoughtful and important contribution to the scholarship of the colonial Southwest. It will be a central reference for any study of the Pueblo Revolt.