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Juan de Oñate

Juan de Oñate

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Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550 – 1626) was a Spanish explorer, colonial governor
Spanish governors of New Mexico
The following is a list of governors of the Province of New Mexico under the Viceroyalty of New Spain.*Juan de Oñate *Cristóbal de Oñate *Pedro de Peralta *Bernadino de Ceballos...

 of the New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 province of New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, and founder of various settlements in the present day Southwest of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...



Oñate was born in the New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

 city of Zacatecas
Zacatecas, Zacatecas
Zacatecas is a city and municipality in Mexico and the capital of the state of Zacatecas. It is located in the north central part of the country. The city had its start as a Spanish mining camp in the mid 16th century. Prior to this, the area's rich deposits in silver and other minerals were known...

 to Spanish-Basque colonists and silver mine owners. His father was the conquistador/silver baron Cristóbal de Oñate
Cristóbal de Oñate
Cristóbal de Oñate was a Spanish Basque explorer, conquistador and colonial official in New Spain. He is considered the founder of the contemporary city of Guadalajara in 1531, as well as other places in Nueva Galicia .-Background:Oñate was born in 1552 in Vitoria or Oñate, in the Basque country...

, and his mother Doña Catalina Salazar y de la Cadena. His Cadena ancestor fought in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa
The Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, known in Arab history as the Battle of Al-Uqab , took place on 16 July 1212 and was an important turning point in the Reconquista and in the medieval history of Spain...

, and was the first to break the line of defense protecting Mohammad Ben Yacub. The family was granted a coat of arms, and thereafter were known as the Cadenas. (Ref. La Calle de Cadena en Mexico," pps. 1—46, Guillermo Porras Munoz). Juan de Oñate married Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma
Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma
Dona Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma , was a wealthy Mexican heiress and the wife of conqueror and explorer Don Juan de Onate who led an expedition in 1598 and founded the first Spanish settlement in what is now the state of New Mexico...

, granddaughter of Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

, the conqueror of the Aztec Triple Alliance
Aztec Triple Alliance
The Aztec Triple Alliance, or Aztec Empire began as an alliance of three Nahua city-states or "altepeme": Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan...

, and great granddaughter of the Aztec
The Aztec people were certain ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, a period referred to as the late post-classic period in Mesoamerican chronology.Aztec is the...

Tlatoani is the Nahuatl term for the ruler of an altepetl, a pre-Hispanic state. The word literally means "speaker", but may be translated into English as "king". A is a female ruler, or queen regnant....

 Moctezuma Xocoyotzin.

In 1595 he was ordered by King Philip II
Philip II of Spain
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....

 to colonize the northern frontier of New Spain. His stated objective was to spread Roman Catholicism
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and establish new missions
Spanish missions in New Mexico
The Spanish Missions in New Mexico were a series of religious outposts established by Franciscan friars under charter from the governments of Spain and New Spain to convert the local Pueblo, Navajo and Apache Indians to Christianity. The missions also aimed to pacify and Hispanicize the natives...

. He began the expedition in 1598, fording the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

, or Río del Norte, at the present-day El Paso
El Paso, Texas
El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States...

, in late April. On April 30, 1598, he claimed all of New Mexico beyond the river for Spain.

That summer his party continued up the Rio Grande to present-day northern New Mexico
Northern New Mexico
Northern New Mexico may simply mean the northern part of New Mexico, but in cultural terms it usually means the area of heavy Spanish settlement in the north-central part....

, where he encamped among the Pueblo Indians. He founded the province of Santa Fé de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México
Santa Fe de Nuevo México was a province of New Spain and later Mexico that existed from the late 16th century up through the mid-19th century. It was centered on the upper valley of the Rio Grande , in an area that included most of the present-day U.S. state of New Mexico...

 and became the province's first governor. Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá
Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá
Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá was a captain in Juan de Oñate’s expedition that first colonized New Mexico in 1598. He was born in Puebla de los Angeles. Villagra went on to college a the University of Salamanca in Spain and then moved to New Spain. In that role, Villagrá served as the unofficial...

, a captain of the expedition, chronicled Oñate’s conquest of New Mexico’s indigenous peoples in his epic Historia de Nuevo México from 1510.

Acoma War

Oñate soon gained a reputation as a stern ruler of both the Spanish colonists and the indigenous people
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. In October of 1598, a skirmish erupted when Oñate's occupying Spanish military demanded supplies from the Acoma
Acoma Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo is a Native American pueblo approximately 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico in the United States. Three reservations make up Acoma Pueblo: Sky City , Acomita, and McCartys. The Acoma Pueblo tribe is a federally recognized tribal entity...

 tribe—demanding things essential to the Acoma surviving the winter. The Acoma resisted and twelve Spaniards were killed, amongst them Don Juan Oñate’s nephew. A war
Acoma Massacre
The Acoma Massacre, or the Battle of Acoma Pueblo, was fought in January of 1599 between Spanish conquistadors and Acoma, or Keres, native Americans of New Mexico. After the killing of twelve soldiers at Acoma Pueblo in 1598, the Spanish retaliated and it led to the deaths of around 800 men, women...

 began and in January of 1599, Oñate retaliated for the loss of his nephew; his soldiers killed 800 villagers, including men, women and children. They enslaved the remaining 500, and by Don Juan’s decree, they amputated the left foot of every Acoma man over the age of twenty-five. Eighty men had one of their feet amputated though other commentators put the figure of those mutilated at twenty-four.

First Onate Expedition

In 1601, Oñate, guided by Jusepe
Jusepe Gutierrez
Jusepe Gutierrez was a Native American guide and explorer. He was the only known survivor of the Umana and Leyba expedition to the Great Plains in 1594 or 1595...

, the lone survivor of the Umana and Leyba expedition, undertook a large expedition to the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

. There were 130 Spanish soldiers and twelve Franciscan priests, just like the expedition to conquer the Aztecs, a retinue of 130 native soldiers and servants, and 350 horses and mules Oñate journeyed across the plains eastward from New Mexico in a renewed search for Quivira
Quivira may refer to:*Quivira, a place first visited by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado while in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Gold*Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, a salt marsh located in south central Kansas...

. As had Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado y Luján was a Spanish conquistador, who visited New Mexico and other parts of what are now the southwestern United States between 1540 and 1542...

, he encountered Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

s in what is now the Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 Panhandle. He proceeded eastward following the Canadian River
Canadian River
The Canadian River is the longest tributary of the Arkansas River. It is about long, starting in Colorado and traveling through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and most of Oklahoma....

 into Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

. Leaving the river behind in a sandy area where his ox carts could not pass, he went cross country, and the land became greener, with more water and groves of walnut and oak trees.

Jusupe probably led Oñate on the same route he had taken with Humana and Leyva six years earlier. They found an encampment of people Oñate called Escanjaques
Escanjaque Indians
The Escanjaques were a native American people named this by Juan de Onate in 1601 during an expedition to the Great Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The Escanjaques may have been identical with the Aguacane who lived along the tributaries of the Red River in western Oklahoma...

. He estimated the population at more than 5,000 living in 600 hundred houses. The Escanjaques lived in round houses as large as ninety feet in diameter and covered with tanned buffalo hides. They were hunters, according to Oñate, depending upon the buffalo for their subsistence and planting no crops.

The Escanjaques told Oñate that a large settlement of their enemies, the Rayados, was located only about twenty miles away in a region called Etzanoa. Thus, it seems possible that the Escanjaques had gathered together in large numbers either out of fear of the Rayados or to undertake a war against them. They attempted to enlist the assistance of the Spanish and their firearms, alleging that the Rayados were responsible for the deaths of Humana and Leyva a few years before.

The Escanjaques guided Oñate to a large river a few miles away and he became the first European to describe the tallgrass prairie
Tallgrass prairie
The tallgrass prairie is an ecosystem native to central North America, with fire as its primary periodic disturbance. In the past, tallgrass prairies covered a large portion of the American Midwest, just east of the Great Plains, and portions of the Canadian Prairies. They flourished in areas with...

. He spoke of fertile land, much better than that through which he had previously passed, and pastures "so good that in many places the grass was high enough to conceal a horse." He tasted and found of good flavor a fruit that sounds like the Pawpaw.

Near the river Oñate, the Spaniards, and their numerous Encajaque guides saw three or four hundred Rayados on a hill. The Rayados advanced, throwing dirt into the air as a sign that they were ready for war. Oñate quickly indicated that he did not wish to fight and made peace with this group of Rayados who proved to be friendly and generous. Oñate liked the Rayados more than he did the Escanjaques. They were "united, peaceful, and settled." They showed deference to their chief, named Catarax, whom Oñate detained as a guide and hostage, although "treating him well."

Caratax led Oñate and the Escanjaques across the river and to a settlement on the eastern bank, one or two miles from the river. The settlement was deserted, the inhabitants having fled. It contained "about twelve hundred houses, all established along the bank of another good-sized river which flowed into the large one [the Arkansas].... the settlement of the Rayados seemed typical of those seen by Coronado in Quivira sixty years before. The homesteads were dispersed; the houses round, thatched with grass, large enough to sleep ten persons each, and surrounded by large granaries to store the corn, beans, and squash they grew in their fields." Oñate restrained with difficulty the Escanjaques from looting the town and sent them home.

The next day Oñate expedition proceeded onward for another eight miles through heavily populated territory, although without seeing many Rayados. At this point, the Spaniard's courage deserted them. There were obviously many Rayados nearby and the Spaniards were warned that they Rayados were assembling an army. Discretion seemed the better part of valor. Oñate estimated that three hundred Spanish soldiers would be needed to confront the Rayados, and he turned his soldiers around to return to New Mexico.

Oñate had worried about the Rayados attacking him, but it was instead the Escanjaques who attacked him as he was beginning his return to New Mexico. Oñate described a pitched battle with one thousand five hundred Escanjaques -- probably an exaggeration -- in which many Spaniards were wounded and many natives killed. After more than two hours of fighting, Onate retired from the battlefield. The Rayado chief, Catarrax, was freed by a raid on the Spanish and Onate freed several women captives, but he retained several boys at the request of the Spanish priests so that they could be instructed in the Catholic faith. The cause of the attack may have been Oñate's kidnapping of women and children.

Oñate and his men returned to New Mexico, arriving there on November 24, 1601 without any further incidents of importance.

The path of Oñate's expedition and the identity of the Escanjaques and the Rayados are much debated. Most authorities believe his route led down the Canadian River
Canadian River
The Canadian River is the longest tributary of the Arkansas River. It is about long, starting in Colorado and traveling through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, and most of Oklahoma....

 from Texas to Oklahoma, cross-country to the Salt Fork
Salt Fork Arkansas River
The Salt Fork of the Arkansas River is a tributary of the Arkansas River in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma in the United States. Via the Arkansas River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.-Course:...

, where he found the Escanjaque encampment, and then to the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

 and its tributary, the Walnut River
Walnut River
The Walnut River is a tributary of the Arkansas River, long, in the Flint Hills region of Kansas in the United States. Via the Arkansas, it is part of the Mississippi River watershed....

 at Arkansas City, Kansas
Arkansas City, Kansas
Arkansas City is a city situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers in the southwestern part of Cowley County, located in south-central Kansas, in the central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,415....

 where the Rayado settlement was located. A minority view would be that the Escanjaque encampment was on the Ninnescah River and the Rayado village was on the site of present day Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

. Archaeological evidence favors the Walnut River site.

Authorities have speculated that the Escanjaques were Apache, Tonkawa
The Tickanwa•tic Tribe , better known as the Tonkawa , are a Native American people indigenous to present-day Oklahoma and Texas. They once spoke the now-extinct Tonkawa language believed to have been a language isolate not related to any other indigenous tongues...

, Jumano
Jumano Indians
The Jumano Indians were a prominent Native American tribe or several tribes who inhabited western Texas and adjacent New Mexico, especially near the La Junta region. They were discovered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. but had nearly disappeared as a people by 1750.-The Jumano...

, Quapaw
The Quapaw people are a tribe of Native Americans who historically resided on the west side of the Mississippi River in what is now the state of Arkansas.They are federally recognized as the Quapaw Tribe of Indians.-Government:...

, Kaw
Kaw may refer to:* Kaw , a Native American tribe* Kaw, French Guiana, a town in French Guiana* Kaw , a character in The Chronicles of Prydain* Kaw City, Oklahoma, a city in the United States* Kaw Lake, a lake in the U.S...

, or other tribes. Most likely they were Caddoan and spoke a Wichita
Wichita (tribe)
The Wichita people are indigenous inhabitants of North America, who traditionally spoke the Wichita language, a Caddoan language. They have lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas...

 dialect. We can be virtually certain that the Rayados were Caddoan Wichitas. Their grass houses, dispersed mode of settlement, a chief named Catarax, a Wichita title, the description of their graineries, and their location all are in accord with Coronado's earlier description of the Quivirans. However, they were probably not the same people Coronado had met. Coronado found Quivira 120 miles north of Oñate's Rayados . The Rayados spoke of large settlements called Tancoa -- perhaps the real name of Quivira -- in that area to the north. Thus, the Rayados were related culturally and linguistically to the Quivirans but not in the same political entity. The Wichita at this time were not unified, but rather a large number of related tribes scattered over most of Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 and Oklahoma. That the Rayados and Escanjaques may have spoken the same language, but were nevertheless enemies is not implausible.

Second Onate Expedition

Oñate’s last major expedition went to the west, from New Mexico to the lower valley of the Colorado River
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

. The party of about three dozen men set out from the Rio Grande valley in October 1604. They traveled by way of Zuñi
Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico
Zuni Pueblo is a census-designated place in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 6,367 at the 2000 census...

, the Hopi pueblos
The Hopi are a federally recognized tribe of indigenous Native American people, who primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people. Their Hopi language is one of the 30 of the Uto-Aztecan language...

, and the Bill Williams River
Bill Williams River
The Bill Williams River is a river in western-central Arizona in Mohave County; the river proper is the northern border of La Paz County which it drains in the north, as well as areas of far western Yavapai County...

 to the Colorado River, and descended that river to its mouth in the Gulf of California
Gulf of California
The Gulf of California is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland...

 in January 1605, before returning along the same route to New Mexico. The evident purpose of the expedition was to locate a port by which New Mexico could be supplied, as an alternative to the laborious overland route from New Spain.

The expedition to the lower Colorado River was important as the only recorded European incursion into that region between the expeditions of Hernando de Alarcón
Hernando de Alarcón
Hernando de Alarcón, a Spanish navigator of the 16th century, noted for having led an early expedition to the Baja California peninsula, meant to be coordinated with Francisco Vasquéz de Coronado's overland expedition, and for penetrating the lower Colorado River, perhaps as far as the modern...

 and Melchior Díaz in 1540 and the visits of Eusebio Francisco Kino beginning in 1701. The explorers did not see evidence of prehistoric Lake Cahuilla
Lake Cahuilla
Prehistoric Lake Cahuilla was an extensive freshwater lake that filled the Coachella, Imperial, and Mexicali valleys of southeastern California and northeastern Baja California during the centuries prior to Spanish entry into the region...

, which must have arisen shortly afterwards in the Salton Sink
Salton Sink
The Salton Sink is a geographic sink in the Coachella and Imperial valleys of southeastern California. It is in the Colorado Desert subregion of the Sonoran Desert ecoregion...

. They mistakenly thought that the Gulf of California continued indefinitely to the northwest, giving rise to a belief that was common in the seventeenth century that the Californias
Island of California
The Island of California refers to a long-held European misconception, dating from the 16th century, that California was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island separated from the continent by a strait now known instead as the Gulf of California.One of the most famous...

 were an island.

Native groups observed living on the lower Colorado River, were, from north to south, the Amacava, Bahacecha, Osera
Piman languages
Piman refers a group of languages within the Uto-Aztecan family that are spoken by ethnic groups spanning from Arizona in the north to Durango, Mexico in the south.The Piman languages are as follows :...

, at the Gila River
Gila River
The Gila River is a tributary of the Colorado River, 650 miles long, in the southwestern states of New Mexico and Arizona.-Description:...

's junction with the Colorado in a location later occupied by the Quechan
The Quechan are a Native American tribe who live on the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation on the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California just north of the border with Mexico...

, Alebdoma
The Halchidhoma are an Indian tribe now living mostly on the Salt River reservation, but formerly native to the area along the lower Colorado River in California and Arizona when first contacted by Europeans...

; seen by Oñate below the Gila junction but subsequently reported upstream from there, in the area where Oñate had encountered the, Coguana, or Kahwans, Agalle and Agalecquamaya, or Halyikwamai, and the Cocopah. Concerning areas that the explorers had not observed directly, they gave fantastic reports about races of human monsters and areas said to be rich in gold, silver, and pearls.

Later life and legacy

In 1606, Oñate was recalled to Mexico City for a hearing into his conduct. After finishing plans for the founding of the town of Santa Fé
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

, he resigned his post and was tried and convicted of cruelty to both natives and colonists. He was banished from New Mexico but on appeal was cleared of all charges. Eventually Oñate went to Spain, where the king
Spanish monarchy
The Monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown and commonly referred to as the Spanish monarchy or Hispanic Monarchy, is a constitutional institution and an historic office of Spain...

 appointed him head of mining inspectors for all of Spain. He died in Spain in 1626. He is sometimes referred to as "the Last Conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...


Oñate is honored by some for his exploratory ventures, but is vilified by others for his cruelty to the Keres of Acoma Pueblo. In the Oñate Monument Visitors Center northeast of Española
Española, New Mexico
Española also known as Espanola , is a city primarily in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, in the United States. A portion of the central and eastern section of the city is in Santa Fe County. Española was founded in 1880 as a railroad village, incorporated as a city in 1925. The city is situated in...

 is a 1991 bronze statue dedicated to the man. In 1998 New Mexico celebrated the 400th anniversary of his arrival. That same year individuals opposed to the statue or what it was perceived to represent, cut off the statue's right foot and left a note saying, "Fair is fair." The sculptor, Reynaldo Rivera, recast the foot but the seam is still visible. Some commentators suggested leaving the statue maimed as a symbolic reminder of the foot-mutilating incident.

In 1997, the City of El Paso
El Paso
El Paso, a city in the U.S. state of Texas, on the border with Mexico.El Paso may also refer to:-Geography:Colombia:* El Paso, CesarSpain:*El Paso, Santa Cruz de TenerifeUnited States:...

 hired a sculptor, John Sherrill Houser
John Sherrill Houser
John Sherrill Houser is an American painter and sculptor. He was born in Rapid City, South Dakota where his father, Ivan Houser, was assistant sculptor to Gutzon Borglum in the early years of carving Mount Rushmore...

, to create a statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 of the conquistador. In reaction to protests, two city councilmembers retracted their support for the project; The $2,000,000 statue took nearly nine years to build and was stationed in the sculptor's Mexico City warehouse. The statue was completed in early 2006. In pieces and transported on flatbed trailers, it was brought to El Paso during the summer and was installed in October. The controversy over the statue prior to its installation was the subject of the documentary film The Last Conquistador, presented in 2008 as part of PBS' P.O.V.
POV is a Public Broadcasting Service Public television series which features independent nonfiction films. POV is a cinema term for "point of view"....

television series.
The City of El Paso unveiled the eighteen ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

, 34 feet (10.4 m) statue in a ceremony on April 21, 2007. Oñate is mounted atop his Andalusian horse
Andalusian horse
The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE , is a horse breed developed in the Iberian Peninsula. Its ancestors have been present on the Iberian Peninsula for thousands of years. The Andalusian has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century, and its conformation...

 while holding the La Toma
La Toma
La Toma was a legal declaration made by Don Juan de Oñate on 30 April 1598 in present-day San Elizario, Texas. It stated that Spain was taking possession of all territory north of the Rio Grande River for King Philip II of Spain...

 declaration in his right hand. The statue was welcomed by segments of the local population and also by the Spanish Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Westendorp
Carlos Westendorp
Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza is a Spanish diplomat.He joined the Spanish Diplomatic Service in 1966.Following several assignments abroad and in Spain Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza (born 7 January 1937 in Madrid) is a Spanish diplomat.He joined the Spanish Diplomatic Service in 1966.Following several...

. According to Houser, it is the largest and heaviest (bronze) equestrian statue in the world. Acoma tribal members from New Mexico were present and protested the statue.

Oñate High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, also known as "The City of the Crosses", is the county seat of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 97,618 in 2010 according to the 2010 Census, making it the second largest city in the state....

is named after Juan de Oñate.

External links

  • Porras Munoz, Guillermo, "La Calle de Cadena en Mexico," pps. 1-46.