Sunday, June 6, 2010

Avatar and the Pueblo Revolt

It was with great delight that I revisited my journey to Avatar this past weekend via pay per view. Even without the big screen experience and eye-popping 3D enhancements, it was still a visually stunning story with a great character arc...and a hauntingly familiar message. I loved picking up on the all the little elements I missed before. One of the things that really made me sit up and take notice was when I realized the close parallels between the events in the movie and the not so well known history of New Mexico (which I’m researching for a future novel entitled This Far, Wild Land).

The Spanish Colonial period in New Mexico includes a very unique event—the only successful uprising in North America of an indigenous people against a technologically-superior European population, who were in turn driven out of the territory. (Sound vaguely familiar?)

Prior to the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish in 1680, the Pueblos had never acted in a concerted effort. A single Native American named Pope (Poh pay) helped organize the various pueblos to unite against the threat to their culture, their land and way of life. He did this by sending out messengers to all the various Pueblo tribes to organize and unite them. (As Jake did in Avatar.) Over 400 Spaniards were killed in the conflict that resulted, and the Pueblo people succeeded in driving every last Spanish colonist out of their homeland and back to their point of origin (Mexico). Still sounding familiar?

The Spanish didn’t return for twelve years, but when they did they came with a much healthier respect for the Native American people and afforded them many more rights, including their own designated Pueblo lands and reservations. (Sounds like a sequel in the works, to me.)

Though I don’t know if the Pueblo Revolt inspired John Cameron’s amazing tale, the similarities are uncanny. As with much SF/R, the future can be created by drawing on aspects of the past. History does repeat itself, in infinite variety but unmistakably familiar patterns.


  1. Right on! Go, Pope! I'm a big fan of Tecumseh, too, but he was betrayed in the end and his final battle ended badly.

  2. Oh, me too, Donna. And Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce is another outstandng leader I admire. And then there's Wind Talkers. I could go on and on.


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