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Native American Indians built amazing cliff dwellings in New Mexico many centuries before the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, and structural remains of those cultures are spread across the state for all to see.
In 1536, the Spanish reached this undiscovered land, and in 1540, V?squez de Coronado, led an expedition north from Mexico City in search of the fabled "Seven Cities of Gold
."He discovered the Grand Canyon
, and made it all the way to Kansas
, but in the end those "Cities of Gold
" turned out to be a fabricated legend.
Over the next sixty years, Spanish exploration continued here, albeit slowly. Missionaries and settlers traded with the indigenous Pueblo Indians, and by the end of the 16th century, churches were being built, including the first one in all of North America
The Spanish called this land New Mexico
, appointed a governor and established Santa Fe
as the capital; priests began to convert the local Indians to Christianity and many thousands of settlers moved in.
Discontent with Spain?s
control grew, and in 1680, the Pueblo Indians revolted; they killed and terrorized the colonists; burnt their religious buildings, and surrounded Santa Fe - forcing hundreds to flee to Mexico
A decade passed and the Spanish
returned with just fifty soldiers; using diplomacy and an inflated military strength bluff, the Pueblo people surrendered. Many years of bloodshed and war followed, including raids by the Apache and Comanche Indians. In the end battles were won and agreements were forged, as the Spanish settlers were very determined - and here to stay.
Following Mexico's successful War of Independence from Spain in 1821, the New Mexico Territory
came under Mexican control. Then, during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), both America and Mexico fought for control of Texas
. When that war ended, (by agreement
) the fast-growing U.S. took possession of Texas, and what is now California
, Nevada, Utah, parts of Arizona, Colorado
, and Wyoming, and of course, the New Mexico Territory.
America's Civil War had a minor impact in New Mexico, but the westward expansion of America would change this land forever. Greedy cattleman and lawyers swindled local Indians out of their long-held land, and eventually, tragically, the U.S. army forced the once-proud Apache and Navajo Nations onto reservations.
In the 1880's the railroads arrived; commerce began flowing in and out, and the population expanded rapidly. It was still a mostly lawless territory when it achieved statehood on January 6, 1912, as the 47th state.