Let’s Talk History 16: Nuevo México as in MexicA, Not MexicO


Representing King Philip II of Spain, Spanish conquistador don Juan de Oñate establishes settlement in the New Spain province of Nuevo México. Governor, or viceroy, Oñate establishes several towns.*

Unsuccessful in finding the gold and riches of Mexico, desperation from hunger, lack of food, and persistent cold temperatures deteriorates Native and colonist relations, returning many colonists to Spain in complaint of Oñate.

In 1607, Oñate resigns as governor and is subsequently convicted, fined and banished from New Mexico permanently and Mexico City for several years for treatment of colonists as well as the killing, maiming and enslavement of the Ácoma Pueblo Natives (following their rebellion and subsequent killing of Spanish officers).

*colonists, slaves and servants were often utilized to build forts, colonies and towns

New Mexico eventually becomes part of an independent Mexico before becoming a state of the present-day United States (following the Mexican-American war)


Coronado Expedition 1540–1542

Now time for some food and refreshments … see ya next Tuesday! >>>


  1. Kessell, John L., Kiva, Cross, and Crown: The Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540–1840. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Washington, D.C., 1979. Chapter III: Oñate’s Disenchantment, 1595–1617.
  2. Juan de Oñate and the Founding of New Mexico.” Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier, The Library of Congress: Global Gateway.
  3. New Mexico’s Colonial Past.” Today in History — September 21. The Library of Congress: Digital Collections.