The Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe of Guadalupe Pueblo, of Las Cruces, New Mexico is the only organized American Indian Tribal group descended from the Pueblo Indians of the Guadalupe Mission of Paso del Norte (present Cd. Juarez). Descendents of the Guadalupe Mission were among the first settlers who came to Las Cruces in 1849. During the subsequent decades, they were joined by other Pueblo Indian families from Paso del Norte.
The history of the ancestors of the present Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe begins with the indigenous inhabitants of the Mesilla Valley, the Manso Indians. These were the people that the first spanish explorers found living in the Las Cruces area. Their principal village, Rancheria Grande, was situated near the present day Las Cruces.
In the 1650's, the Colonial Spanish authoriities gave permission to the Franciscan Missionaries to establish a mission for the Manso and Suma Indians. They chose to establish the mission on the southern boundary of Manso Territory, at what is today Cd. Juarez, Mexico. This was near the Manso border with the Manso's neighbors to the south, the Suma. The first Indians at the Guadalupe Mission were however actually Piro from New Mexico, ten Christian families of whom were brought by the Franciscans to help them convert the Mansos. Soon, the Piro were joined by Manso and Suma converts.
The Franciscans chose to house the Piro separately from the new converts. This created the interesting situation of two separtate Indian entities attached to the same mission. The Manso pueblo was referred to as "Pueblo de los Mansos", or "Pueblo Arriba" and was located north of the mission church in the Chamizal area. The Piro pueblo was referred to was "Pueblo de los Piros" or " Pueblo Abajo" and was located southeast of the mission church, in what later became the Barrial section of Cd. Juarez.
In the 1670's, the Tiwa and Tompiro Pueblos of the Salinas Area were abandoned because of the severe drought and Apache raids. Many of the refugees from the Tiwa pueblos of Tajique, and Quarai, and the Tompiro Pueblos of Abo and Jumanas fled to the Guadalupe Mission. The refugees were housed with the Piro people who were already residents in Paso del Norte.
In 1680, the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico revolted and drove the Spanish out of New Mexico. The remaining Piro Indians either joined the Spanish in their flight to Paso del Norte or joined the rebels. From this point forward, the Piro Pueblos of the Socorro, New Mexico area were abandoned, never to be re-occupied by the Piro people.
In 1682, the Spanish attempted to reconquer New Mexico but only succeeded in capturing several hundred Tiwa and Piro Indians at the Tiwa Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico. These captives were brought back to the El Paso area. The new Piro and Tiwa refugees were settled at the new misssions of Ysleta del Sur and Senecu del Sur and Socorro del Sur. The Jano, a tribe from southwestern New Mexico who spoke the same language and had cultural and political ties with the Manso were settled with the Manso at the Guadalupe Mission in the early 1700's.
Over the decades, through intermarriage, the various tribal entities at the Guadalupe mission were merged into one new group, the Pueblo Indians of Guadalupe. By the early 1800's, the two separate pueblos established by the Franiciscans had become one people with one tribal government, one casique, one governor and one set of war captains. Although there was some intermarriage with the Indians from Ysleta del Sur and Senecu del Sur, the people of Guadlupe Pueblo presevered their separate tribal indentity and affinity with their Manso and Piro ancestors.
With the opening of the Mesilla Valley to settlement, the Guadalupe Indians began returning to the former home of their Manso ancestors. The Rael (also spelled Rel) family were Guadalupe Indians, who are listed on the first census of Doña Ana County in 1844. The Avalos and Jemente families are Guadalupe Indians who were among the first settlers of Las Cruces. They were later joined the Lara, Ortega, Padilla, Romero, Tafoya, Trujillo and Vargas families, all Indians from the Mission of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
The Pueblo Indians of Las Cruces continued to hold dances in front of Saint Genevieve's Catholic Church to celebrate their saint's day until 1910. In the years previous to 1910, there had been considerable controversy concerning the Indian dances, including a newspaper article in the New York Times that falsely reported that a small girl was forced by the Indians to dance until she keeled over dead. In 1910, under the pressure of public criticism, the Pueblo Indians of Las Cruces transferred their Guadalupe Day Fiesta to Tortugas but most of the Indian families continued to live in southeast Las Cruces in an area known as "Las Liebres". A few families actually moved to Tortugas and were joined there by several families from Ysleta del Sur.
In a few years, the Pueblo Indians of Las Cruces had disappeared from the public consciousness and were replaced in the popular mind and media by the "Tortugas Indians". The Pueblo Indians of Las Cruces did not disappear. The casique and most of the people continued to live in Las Cruces, where they performed their private ceremonies. In the 1950's and 60's, serious disputes between the Las Cruces Indians and the Corporation in charge of running the Guadalupe Day Fiesta in Tortugas, caused many of the Indian families to cease participating at Tortugas. In 1971, the tribe formed a formal organization and began seeking Federal Recognition.
The tribe has been known in the past as the "Pueblo Indians of Las Cruces", "Los Inditos de Las Cruces" and San Juan de Guadalupe Tiwa". In 1998, the tribe formally incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the name "Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe of Guadalupe Pueblo".
Beckett, Patrick H., and Terry L. Corbett
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