Letter of Fray Francisco Corbera on the eve of a Pueblo Indian uprising, 1696

English Translation
Dear Father, in response to your order, I say that the uprising is certain and fixed, without a doubt. It is not just a speculation without evidence, as the Governor [Diego de Vargas] claims, I offer only two reasons as proof, although I could present an infinite number that would be as convincing. The first is that every night, I go to the kiva [estufa] of the Indians of my town, the place where they discuss their affairs, as you are aware. I have heard them discuss the uprising, when I was hidden and they could neither see me nor know I was there. Thus alone, they had no need to lie, and even more, the interpreter couldn't deceive me as I had no need of him, since I understand the language of the Indians. I also know that they went to the tribunal meeting opposite Santa Clara, and they asked my permission [to leave town], saying that they wanted to go and hunt. This was a lie, and I discovered it, which would suffice [to suspect an uprising]. But here I set down the second reason: it is true that there is no town which at least a few Indians have not given notice to their minister; these Indians are of the same kind, bearing more love for other members of their own nation than they do the Spaniards. This is evidence, and not speculation that there will be an uprising, and if no one says so to His Excellency [de Vargas] it is for two reasons. The first is that one who tells of it looses his standing with His Excellency and makes of him an enemy, in addition, [the warning] won't fix anything, and this is the reason that I have heard from many of those who tell His Excellency that the Indians won't rebel, although out of earshot they say they will. The second reason is that on the occasions when His Excellency has been advised to call in the Indians, and has questioned them, they have said that they will not revolt, and when His Excellency presses them, what are the Indians to say? Especially since they know that his Lordship can have them shot.

Thus His Excellency has been warned many times by those who speak clearly and truthfully that the same happened in the year of [16]80, when there were fewer warning signs. Because they were not heeded, all of the Friars died and Divine Faith was profaned, and His Majesty [Charles II of Spain] lost this kingdom, and the souls of Indians perished. If it is to finally be believed only when there would be no solution, as in the year of [16]80 when there were fewer warning signs, it is better to believe now, while there is still a solution. And si oculus tuus scandalizatte absinde eam et projice abs te [if thy eye scandalizes thee, cut it off and cast it from thee, a misquotation from Matthew 5: 29-30]; Holy Scripture gives this advice, not I, which means if there is a cancer in the arm, cut it off so that all the body can heal. God inspires whoever is able to supply the correct remedy.

What you, dear Father, know is that although the ministers would leave their missions, its not for this that the Indians rebel, as His Excellency would have it, for two reasons. The first that in the year that we first came, 1693, the Indians rebelled, and there were no ministers in their missions, even thought they wished to be there. Thus, if the ministers leave, it is not reason for the Indians to rebel, nor is it reason if they stay, because in 1680 [the first great Pueblo uprising], the ministers didn't leave and the Indians rebelled. The other reason is that, as you, dear Father, know, there have been three uprisings, and the ministers have not left their missions, and not withstanding, they persist in rebelling, thus it is not because [the ministers] would leave.

What I regret, dear Father, is that the Tanos are already in the mountains, and with this moon will come the uprising, and without a swift intervention, there will be no turning back, because, first, each Pueblo will go its own way and in order to conquer them afterwards (if it is possible) it will take at the very least two years. And during this time, what will the Spanish eat? They have neither wheat nor maize, and they need for the Indians to provide it, but they will not find it in the Pueblos as before, because word has come from the Indians that they do not have it [food], yet I know for a fact that they have gathered it and taken it elsewhere.

I do not know what awaits; after death, we will come to believe in Eternity. But not for this do I look not to die in my Mission, as I would if I could be assured that by dying that one of my parishioners would be saved, but I know beforehand that they will be incited more with my death. This will not be strictly a martyrdom, for two reasons. First, martyrdom is a crown that I do not deserve, and second, it would be done strictly for hatred of the faith and thus it will be madness not to hold onto my life as much as I am able if this is as I suppose.

Thus, I say that the protection I need is this: that His Excellency should come and see a Mission, along with the people that he would need to feel himself secure, and in the most peaceful mission, let him dare to stay eight days. And with equal protection, I would be content. While this is what His Excellency needs to keep himself safe, I also need to safeguard the Holy Faith, which means more than the world. I hold my own person to be worth little, but only ask that His Excellency would assure me of [the safety of] the Holy Faith, which is the intention of His Most Catholic Majesty, and for this he so liberally spends the royal assets.

This is what I believe, and I ask for a quick decision. So that this may be officially recorded, I hereby sign my name in this Mission of San Ildefonso, March 10, [16]96.

Friar Francisco Corbera
   

Spanish Original
Padre Vuestro, en cumplimiento del horden de V. P. digo que el Alzamiento es çierto, y fijo, que en esto no ay duda, ni es solo presumpçion, como diçe el Señor Gobernador sino evidençia, y preuvolo con solas dos razones, aunque pudiera alegar cassi inifinitas, que combençen esto; la primera que Yo todas las noches me boy a la Estufa de los Indios de mi Pueblo, que es El lugar donde platican sus cossas como V. P. sabe en su lugar, los e oydo tratar el Alzamiento estando yo oculto, que ni an podido verme, ni conozerme. A solas Ellos no hauian de mentir, y mas contrasi, ni pudo engañarme el interprete pues no neçesito del, por entenderles el idioma a los indios; se tambien, que fueron a la Junta enfrente de Santa Clara, y me pidieron licencia diziendo que ivan a cazar, y fue falso, como lo aberigue, rason es esta, que pareze vastaua, pero pongo la segunda; es çierto que no ay Pueblo en que a lo menos, no la ay gandado avisso al Minro algunos Indios; estos Yndios son de ellos mismos, y mas hauian de querer a sus compañeros de su Nazion, que a los Españoles: luego es evidençia, y no presumçion el Alzamiento, y si ninguno se lo llega a dezir a su Señoría es por dos Caussas, la Vna por que el que se lo dize Pierde El certido con su Señoría y le tiene por Enemigo, ademas que no se Remedia nada, esta es Razon que se la he oydo â muchos de los que le dizen a su Señoría que no se Alzan los Indios ya fueran dizen que si: La segunda razon es que las Vezes que a su Señoría se le a Avissado â llamado a los Yndios, y se lo ha preguntado, y ellos han dho que no se Alzan, y su Señoría los agasaja, que han de dezir los indios? y mas a su Señoría que sauen que puede Apelotearlos.

Y asi lo han avisado a su Señoría vastantes vezes los que hablan claro, y Verdad, lo mismo suçedio el año de ochenta que huvo menos Avissos, y por no hazerse casso murieron todos los Religiossos, se profano el culto Diuino, y perdio su Magestad este Reyno, y las Almas de los Indios pereçieron; si por ultimo sea de creer quando no tenga Remedio, como el año de ôchenta que hubo menos Avisos, mejor es creerlo âora, que ay algun remedio; Y si oculus tuus scandalizatte absinde eam et projice abs te escriptura da este consejo yo no lo digo, lo que se es que si ay canzer En un brazo se corta para que todo el cuerpo sane, Dios inspire a quien puede el Remedio combeniente.

Lo que se Padre Vuestro es que aunque se salgan los Ministros de sus Misiones, no por eso se Alzaran los Indios como su Señoría da A entender; Por dos razones la Vna que el año que Entramos de noventa y tres se Alzaron los indios, y no hauia Ministros en las Missiones, Antes bien, y aquerian ir; luego salir los Minros no es razon para Alzarse los Indios, ni el no salirse pues el año de ochenta no se salieron los Ministros y los Indios se Alzaron; y lo ôtro que como V. P. saue, y ava por tres Vezes el Alzamiento aberiguado, y los Ministros no se han salido de las missiones y no obstante pressisten En Alzarse; luego no por que se salgan los Ministros.

Lo que siento Padre Vuestro es, que los Tanos estan ya en la sierra, y esta luna es el Alzamiento, y sino ser remedia breve no tendra Remedio, Pues lo vno, cada Pueblo se ha de ir por su parte y para Conquistarlos despues (dado casso quese consiga) son menester A lo menos, Dos Años; y en este Tiempo que comeran los Espanoles? que no tienen ni un grano de Maiz, y neçesitan que los Indios lo den, ni lo han de hallar en los Pueblos como la Vez passada, pues y a los Indios han echado Voz que no tienen y me consta que lo han cogido, y lo han traspuesto.

No se a que se Aguarda, despues de muertos lo hiremos a creer a la Eternidad: no por esto me Escusso de morir en mi Mission, como me aseguren que por mi muerte se salvara Vno de mis feligreses, pero Antes se que se han de hostigar mas con mi muerte, ni sera este Riguroso Martiro, por dos cossas, que el Martiro Es corona, y Yo no la merezco; lo otro, que no es odio a la fee, Rigorosso, y assi sera barbaridad no guardar la Vida pudiendo; todo esto supuesto.

Digo, que la escolta, que necessito es esta: que su Señoría vea y se venga a una Mission y con la gente que le pareziere estar su Persona segura en la Mission mas quieta, que se atreua a estar ocho dias, con esa Escolta me contento, y esto es quando su Señoría o tiene que guardar mas que su Persona y yo el Culto Diuino, que importa mas que todo el Mundo, y luego mi Persona doy mi Persona de Varato, y asegureme su Señoría el Culto Diuino, que es la intenzion de su Magestad Catholica, y por lo que gasta tan explendidamente sus Reales haueres.

Esta es lo que siento, y pido la breuedad en la determinazion, y por que conste lo firme en esta Mission de San Ildefonso, y Marzo diez de nouenta y seis Años.

Fray Francisco Corbera
   








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