Tigua of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
The Tigua are the only
Puebloan tribe still in Texas. Other Puebloan tribes in Texas include
the long gone prehistoric Pueblos along the Canadian River in the
Texas Panhandle and probably the Jumano.
They called their
ancestral home Pueblo Gran Quivera. It was located north of El
Paso in the Manzano Mountains - southeast of Albuquerque - and was
started about A D 800. By 1300 it was one of the largest
The Spanish explorer
Coronado was the first European to see Gran Quivera in 1539. The
Spanish called it "Pueblo de los Humanas", which means "city of the
In the 1600s more Spanish
came and founded missions and settlements in New Mexico around Gran
Quivera. With the Spanish came diseases and epidemics that killed many
of the Pueblo Indians including the Tigua of Gran Quivera. The Spanish
also would take Pueblo Indians to act as slaves in their settlements.
In the 1670s there was a
bad drought that lasted several years. Food was in short supply. The
population of Gran Quivera dwindled and got smaller and smaller. By
1675 they were desperate so they left. They went south to the Rio
Grande River near modern El Paso. They settled there and started
farming. Some of the Tigua went north to live with their close
relatives at Isleta Pueblo. The Isleta Puebloans spoke Tiwa like the
Tigua. Gran Quivera was left abandoned. The ruins are still there and
are protected by the National Park Service.
In 1680 all the Pueblo
Indians revolted against the Spanish. They drove the Spanish out of
New Mexico and down to El Paso. In 1681 Spanish came back and attacked
Isleta Pueblo. Many of the Isleta Puebloans managed to run away and
escape. But, the Spanish captured many of them. The Spanish forced
these Isleta Pueblo prisoners to come with them to El Paso. These were
both Isleta Puebloans and Tiguas. The Isleta Indians who ran away did
come back to their Pueblo and made peace with the Spanish. Isleta
Pueblo is still there today and the Isleta Pueblos still live there on
In 1682 the Tigua and
Isleta near El Paso founded Ysleta. Ysleta is a different way of
spelling Isleta which they did to avoid confusion with Isleta. By this
time they had become Christians and built a mission church. The Ysleta
mission is the oldest church in Texas and the oldest mission in Texas.
The Spanish King gave the Indians of Ysleta a grant around their
Pueblo which gave them title to the land.
The Ysleta mission and
the Pueblo were right next to the expanding town of El Paso.
Eventually the Tigua were living as a suburb of El Paso. The still
live there today. Their neighborhood is called in Spanish "El barrio
de los Indians". After the Americans took over in 1848 of crooked land
speculators stole much of the Tigua land from them. The State of Texas
ignored the Tigua's Spanish land grant and title to the land.
Much of present day El Paso is built on land taken from the Tigua.
This left the Tigua very poor. Only the land around the Ysleta mission
and their houses was still theirs.
By the 1930s many people
thought the Tigua were extinct. But they were not. In the 1960s they
began asserting themselves and laying claim to the land they had lost.
In 1968 Texas finally recognized the Tigua as a tribe. Later in 1968
Lyndon Johnson signed an act of the U S Congress recognizing the Tigua
as a tribe and making their land a reservation. This is where the
Tigua live today.