Calabaza: Placing out a Spirit Bowl for Our Ancestors of the Pueblo Revolt

Brandy Calabaza · August 10, 2022

Calabaza: Placing out a Spirit Bowl for Our Ancestors of the Pueblo Revolt

On this day 342 years ago pueblo communities said ‘enough’. They stood together in opposition to colonialism and fought for independence with the intention of preserving a culture bound in community, family, and traditions. The Pueblo Revolt illustrates the power we hold as Indigenous Peoples and the strength we possess when standing united in defense of our sacred lifeways.

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was more than just a rebellion – it was a historical moment of Indigenous resistance, and a message to Spanish forces that the culture, traditions, and lifeways of pueblo communities are sacred, and no one will destroy that. On this day 342 years ago, pueblo communities in what is known today as northern New Mexico said ‘enough’. They stood together in opposition to colonialism and fought for independence with the intention of preserving a culture bound in community, family, and traditions.

Adobe dwelling with a clay oven outside pictured in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

I’ll always remember the day that I personally learned about the Pueblo Revolt. I was in 8th grade Social Studies, receiving a writing assignment that read, “Look up a historical figure and tell us about the impact they had on our state’s history.” I knew two things going into my internet deep dive for this assignment: one – I refused to spend hours of research reading about white historical figures whom I had no personal connection to as an Indigenous person; and two – I wanted to research a person who I could not only identify with, but who shared the same ancestral homelands as me.

Through connective threads to the spirits of my ancestors, every day I can feel their presence, encouraging me to never stop fighting for our collective lifeways.

Brandy Calabaza, Communications Associate at NDN Collective

A short while into my research, there it was written across my screen, the name “‘Po’pay” from Ohkay Owingeh”. Next to his name on the screen was a marble statue in front of the Capitol Center in Santa Fe. The plaque beneath his neatly wrapped moccasins read, “Leader of the Indian Pueblo Revolt.”

At first sight, Po’pay’s statue reminded me of my grandpa, the carving so detailed that you could see the shelled necklace and a neatly folded bandana tied around his forehead. My baabaa (grandpa) was a Kewa man who loved his family, home, and culture. It was easy for me to recognize that my baabaa’s fiery spirit was a reflection of the same energy and warrior spirit that was foundational to the culmination of the Pueblo Revolt.

Brandy’s Grandparents (Left) and Father (Right) pictured in their family home in Kewa (Santo Domingo) Pueblo. Photo Courtesy of Brandy Calabaza, NDN Communications Associate

Executed in 1680, the rebellion itself was a clever creation – the planning taking years to bring together. Pueblo runners traveled over 300 miles throughout New Mexico and into Arizona, delivering knotted buckskin cords signaling the day of the revolt – a true story of skillful tactics, determination, and a common goal of preserving cultural independence. Leaders of the revolt would successfully bring together over two dozen pueblo communities to push the Spanish conquistadors from their ancestral lands.

White Rock Overlook near San Ildefonso Pueblo

The story of the Pueblo Revolt is a representation of the power we hold and the things we are capable of when united. And for me personally, the story of the Pueblo Revolt is something that I felt deeply connected to, bringing awareness to the ways in which the sacrifices of our Ancestors preserved the culture that is embedded within me.

Through connective threads to the spirits of my ancestors, every day I can feel their presence, encouraging me to never stop fighting for our collective lifeways. As my baabaa taught me, I place my spirit bowl out onto the table and thank them for never leaving me.

As descendants of these great warriors, we must extend gratitude today and always for their acts of resistance.

Brandy Calabaza
by   Brandy Calabaza

Brandy Calabaza (She/Her), Communications Associate, is Jicarilla Apache and Kewa Pueblo from Northern New Mexico. Brandy supports the Communications and Narrative Team with all aspects of content creation, targeted outreach, copywriting, and management of internal communications systems. Her professional background consists of various roles held within her tribal community working with the youth and Nations court. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Native American and Indigenous Studies from Fort Lewis College and a Masters of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma. Brandy has always held a deep passion for social justice, healing trauma, and Indian Law advocacy. Using her education and the power of storytelling, Brandy aspires to utilize her skills in the continued expansion of narratives that uplift and empower Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination.

March 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

NDN Collective Responds to Forest Services Commitment to Study Mining Impacts in the Black Hills Posted 11 months ago
“This is a victory for Tribal Sovereignty. The fight to protect ALL of the water of the sacred Black Hills continues and we remain vigilant and committed to this duty. We stand in solidarity with communities that have been defending Ȟešapa for generations, when our treaties are honored it protects the water for everyone.”
NDN Collective Slams Biden Greenlighting Willow Oil Project Posted 12 months ago
“The Biden administration’s decision to greenlight the Willow project is a climate disaster in the making. Today’s decision completely contradicts not only the administration’s climate goals, but also its commitment to consider Traditional Ecological Knowledge in federal policy making."
Willow Project Threatens Traditional Caribou Hunting: Naqsragmiut Tribal President Writes Letter to the DOI Requesting Consultation Posted 12 months ago
"Residents of our community described concerns about potential impacts to our primary diet, Caribou, to global warming, and to our way of life. BLM has not come back to our community this time and we feel our people and their concerns have been overlooked."
Consultation Process Inadequate: New Letter from Nuiqsut Community Leaders to Department of Interior Posted 12 months ago
It seems that despite its nod to traditional ecological knowledge, BLM does not consider relevant the extensive knowledge and expertise we have gained over millennia, living in a way that is so deeply connected to our environment.
Paying Respects to the American Indian Movement, 50 Years since the Occupation of Wounded Knee

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 12 months ago
NDN Collective joins hundreds at the American Indian Movement 4 Directions March commemorating the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee, and members of the team share reflections on the power and purpose of the day.
NDN Collective Joins Tribes, Organizers, and Activists Across Turtle Island in Mobilization to #StopCopCity

Sherrie Anne Hart , Angelica (Angie) Solloa

Posted 1 year ago
"Building Cop City on stolen Indigenous Lands, to inflict violence in a Black neighborhood, on a piece of land that is essential for air quality and much needed biodiversity to combat climate change is racist, unjust and the opposite direction that we need to be heading in."
NDN Collective Announces the 2023 Radical Imagination Grant Open Application Period Posted 1 year ago
Ten Indigenous artists, artist collectives or small nonprofits of all artistic traditions, mediums and genres will be awarded $100,000 grants over two years.
Police Assault Indigenous Youth with Disabilities at Central High School Posted 1 year ago
"We must prioritize resources and solutions that promote restorative justice, mental health services, and other interventions that address the root causes of conflict, rather than relying on punitive measures that perpetuate the cycle of violence and harm."
“Medicine in a world of violence”: Shining Light on Community-led Efforts to fight the MMIR Epidemic

Janene Yazzie

Posted 1 year ago
Challenging the commercialization of February 14, NDN Collective’s Southwest Regional Director Janene Yazzie calls attention to the MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) Day of Awareness, National Day of Action, and grassroots efforts to fight the MMIR epidemic. Yazzie also shares future MMIR programming from NDN Collective coming soon.
10 Books by Black and & Afro-Indigenous Authors on Black History, Liberation and Futurism Posted 1 year ago
A list curated by Afro-Indigenous Staff at NDN Collective in honor of Black History Month.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.