REVOLTing Art: Understanding the Pueblo Revolt Through Modern Art

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

The Pueblo Revolt was a pivotal moment in the history of the Southwest region of what is now the United States. 

In 1680 the numerous Pueblos unified under the leadership of Po’pay and fought back against the military, religious, and political incursion of the Spanish. This event is the only successful large scale Indigenous revolt against Europeans in North America, and as such is covered in History 201 at Phillips Academy.

While there are numerous accounts of the Revolt from a Spanish perspective, many academics agree that there are no known comparable accounts of the event from the perspective of the Pueblos. 

But what are “comparable” sources anyway? Because there are Indigenous accounts from that time period and contemporaneous to the known Spanish accounts – They are just in the form of oral traditions. Unfortunately, oral traditions have historically not been treated as the same as written or archaeological evidence.  

I wanted to change how our students interacted with material about the Pueblo Revolt and so I created a new lesson that gave more weight to the Pueblo experience, in their own words. And thankfully, Dr. Marisela Ramos, History Department Head was more than happy to let me use her classes to experiment and refine my lesson.

Jason Garcia ceramic in the Peabody’s collection

Artist Jason Garcia (Tewa name: Okuu Pin) has created numerous and stunning pieces related to the Pueblo Revolt using traditional comic book imagery, including a ceramic pot that is in the Peabody’s collection. He has also crafted a multi piece series of art titled Tewa Tales of Suspense! which continues his efforts to provide a counterpoint to the common Spanish-dominant narrative of the Pueblo Revolt. 

Using a set of pictures from the expansive series, I crafted a lesson which engages students in close reading of the visual images to understanding this particular event in history. 

After working in groups and spending time exploring the details of a single picture, students report back to the whole class about what information their picture is conveying, before working collaboratively to place all the images in chronological order. As the class orders the images, we discuss how the narrative of each single picture contributes to our understanding of the larger story of the Pueblo Revolt.

Then we look at quotes taken from a letter by Governor Don Antonio de Otermin and students attempt to match the quotes to the corresponding image.

We end the class with a discussion regarding the differences in how a single event is portrayed depending on the viewpoint and medium (visual narrative vs. written account) as well as why it is important that oral traditions be given the same authority as written documents. 

This lesson has been an exciting way to engage students with the history of the Pueblo Revolt through comic book style art and I look forward to finding ways to refine and expand the activity.

Inventory Complete!

Contributed by Marla Taylor

Well, we did it. After about four years of focused work, the Peabody Institute collections team has finally completed the inventory project. 

This project has been a labor of love (and frustration, and tears, and headaches…) over the years. And I am thrilled to share that the last drawer was inventoried last week!

The project was originally designed back in 2016 to gain full physical and intellectual control over the collection. We knew that the Peabody Institute was home to thousands of items that had not yet been cataloged and were therefore inaccessible to researchers, classes, and tribal partners. 

Over the course of the project, we more than doubled the catalog records in our internal database, counted just over 500,000 individual items, and rehoused items from over 2,000 wooden drawers into archival boxes.

I considered linking to all the past blog posts about this project, but honestly, that got ridiculous pretty quickly! Instead, I will direct you here to find everything tagged as part of the reboxing project to learn more about our process.

A massive thank you must go out to everyone who was a part of this incredible project. This includes all Peabody Institute staff – including those who have had to move on over the years – our volunteers, and dozens of work duty students. 

Our deepest appreciation also goes our financial supporters – the Oak River Foundation, the Abbot Academy Fund, and Les ’68 and Barbara Callahan for their generosity and support of the Peabody’s goal to improve the intellectual and physical control of the Institute’s collections.

Buried Alive: A Grave Situation for W.K. Moorehead

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Example of the sheer size of an earthen wall and the dangers of excavating and tunneling into mounds.
Washout on the wall, west side of new fort, Station 363, Fort Ancient site, Ohio.
Peabody Photo Collections, Plate IX

Originally, I was going to share a blog about tuberculosis and its connection to the Peabody collections, but when this story came up in my research, it was too interesting to set aside to wait another month! For those who are intrigued by how consumption is tied to the Peabody and its collections, you’ll have to wait in anticipation for another month.

I must first give special thanks to the Peabody’s independent researcher, Adam Way, who found this story in an article from the Phillips Academy student newspaper, the Phillipian. This was hours after I asked him to keep his eyes peeled for specific details about Moorehead. What a happy coincidence this find made for my research. Thank you again Adam!

During his excavations in the summer of 1888, Warren K. Moorehead was buried by a cave-in which almost cost him his life. To best share this story, I think it would be best for you to hear some of the story from W.K. Moorehead yourself!

After all, the fall season is upon us and where many believe Moorehead’s spirit lives on within the Peabody’s walls, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time for him to share this near-death experience in his own words. Enjoy!

According to Moorehead’s Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902, and his written account for the journal, Science, Moorehead was excavating a large mound near Frankfort, Ross County, Ohio in August 1888.

“Here a serious accident befell me… as I bent down to examine a small bone uncovered in the process of undermining, a mass of earth equal to several cartloads suddenly dropped from above.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

As Moorehead bent down to examine the bone, the workmen climbed out of the unit to cut down the undermined wall of the mound. As a result, the wall of earth fell upon Moorehead burying him alive.

“The rush of wind it causes I well remember. My head and shoulders were somewhat higher than my legs, possibly a foot. The feet were spread apart. There was little pain, only pressure, intense pressure. It forced the buttons of my light field costume partly inside the flesh; my watch-chain left a bright-red mark along my left side. I could feel the watch strongly pressed against two ribs (these were broken.) The skin over my forehead seemed being cut, but it was the pressure of my hat forcing the flesh between the laced straws. A knife in my pocket seemed burningly hot. Just under the small of my back lay a large clod. The pain at the point of contact was considerable at times, and my spinal column seemed slowly breaking. Then the pain stopped and I could feel nothing.”

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

Throughout this entire experience, Moorehead described being unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to even wink. He recounts how hot the earth was against his face as the pressure of the earth forced his last breath. The workmen said it took a minute or more to reach his head.

“I felt the earth move slightly above my head. That gave me hope. I had not thought much of rescue, but I gathered my remaining strength. A shovel passed across the top of my head, cutting the scalp; I remember feeling it as if a hot iron had struck me. Then they uncovered my head and removed the earth from my mouth and eyes.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Ibid.

After he had been removed, he was partially paralyzed for several days. An article in the Phillips Academy student newspaper, The Phillipian, stated that Moorehead was paralyzed for five to six weeks and later, at the order of a spinal expert, he was placed in a straightjacket to put the weight of his upper body on to his hips to relieve his spine.

“I neglected to state that the earth above my head was about three feet thick, that over my legs was much deeper. Many persons buried in gravel pits and in earth not nearly so deep have been taken out dead.” 

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

The physical effects were quite severe, but it was the effects of the accident on Moorehead’s mind that remained with him throughout the rest of his life. Dreams of caving banks and recurring memories of the accident haunted Moorehead’s psyche.

“I cannot now enter a mine or cave, or stand near an overhanging bank without a feeling of horror.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

The results of this accident continued to echo throughout Moorehead’s later life, affecting his mind and his health. In my next blog these echoes will be revealed.

For more information about this story, please visit the following sources.

Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts, Science Magazine, Vol. ns-21, Issue 522, February 3, 1893

Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902

The Phillipian: Dr. Moorhead Tells, In Book Of Explorers’ Tales Just Out, How He Was Buried Alive (January 30, 1932)