The Trial and Conviction of Juan de Oñate

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Juan de Oñate is the source of much controversy in the state of New Mexico. Every year, a fiesta is held in his honor by the community of Española. People parade through the streets dressed as conquistadors, and a “Reina” is elected as part of the fiesta. But is Juan de Oñate worthy of such a celebration?

In 1614, Juan de Oñate was tried and convicted for the numerous crimes committed while in New Mexico (he was convicted of rape, disloyalty, murder, and stealing from the King, among other counts). As punishment, he was banished from the state of New Mexico for life, fined 6,000 Spanish Ducats, and exiled from Mexico City for 4 years. The judgement against him is here (you can download complete court documents at bottom of this page:






He appealed the decision years later in 1622, but was denied by the King of Spain, who stated:



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Original document:



Interested in learning how the Nawatl language influenced the way Spanish is spoken in New Mexico? Check out my book “Totacho: Our Way Of Talking” available on In it, I detail the major influence that the Nawatl language has had on the “Spanish” spoken by Chicanos and Chicanas in the Southwest.

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Kurly Tlapoyawa is an archaeologist, author, and ethnohistorian. His research focuses primarily on the interaction between Mesoamerica, Western Mexico, and the American Southwest. Kurly has lectured at UNLV, University of Houston, and Yale University on topics related to Mesoamerica. His recent book, “Our Slippery Earth: Nawa Philosophy in the Modern Age” was published in 2017. In addition to his work in Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Kurly is a professional stuntman with over 35 credits to his name. Kurly lives in New Mexico.

Follow Kurly on twitter @KurlyTlapoyawa

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About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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