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POTsherds from Gran QuivIra Mission


Gran Quivira Mission (Early 17th Century)


Gran Quivira, New Mexico, was once a vast city with multiple pueblos and kivas, occurring in the Pueblo IV period (A.D. 1275-1600).  First contact with the Spanish probably happened in 1583 with the arrival of Don Antonio de Espejo. who records in his journal information about a settlement that sounded very similar to Gran Quivira.  The Spanish returned in 1598 with the expedition of Don Juan de Oņate who was the first Spaniard to colonize what would, in fact, become New Mexico.  Oņate visited a pueblo he called Las Humanas, which was the southernmost settlements.  As part of the mission system, Las Humanas (Gran Quivira) was first placed under the Pecos Mission District.  Later, with the arrival of Fray Alonso de Benavides in 1626, Gran Quivira was given more attention, and eventually a permanent mission was founded at Gran Quivira in 1629.  Under the supervision of Fray Francisco Letrado, a chapel was also built, but a permanent cleric, Fray Diego Santander, was not assigned to the mission until 1659.  During his residency, a new, larger church, San Buenaventura, was constructed.   Despite what seemed an auspicious beginning, however, the mission of Gran Quivira was short lived.  By 1672 a combination of disease, drought, famine, and Apache raiding led to the abandonment of Gran Quivira.  Today, as part of the National Park Service of New Mexico, it is part of the Salinas Pueblo National Monument. 

The potsherds shown in photo below were collected from Gran Quivira, New Mexico, and represent Rio Grande Pueblo designs dating back to the 13th century.  Alongside of these artifacts is an actual restored pottery jug from Gran Quivira (circa 1300 A.D.)