Southeast of Albuquerque about 80 miles are the ancient Salinas Pueblo Missions. Off Route 55 the three major missions stand in silent tribute to their populations which were forced to flee due to drought and Apache incursions.
The churches in each of the ecologically sensitive pueblos were built in the early to mid 1600’s. These are places sacred to the indiginous people. They lived ecologically balanced lives that depended on less than 10 inchs of rain each year.
When the Franciscans arrived they were gentle and converted the people to love Christ. But they were soon followed by the Spanish king’s men who demanded more in tribute from the poor peoples. Coronado followed not far behind.
At last a several-year draught made life in the pueblos unsustainable and they fled to the Jemez and other areas to the south leaving the evocatively beautiful ruins where today the sound of the wind is all that is heard. To explore these gorgious ruins is to wonder what life in balance with nature must have been like. It is also to wonder if these magnificent and peaceful pueblo people might not be Christian today if not for the Conquistadors.
The cruelty of the Spanish Kings eded the natives conversion to Christianity. These people sang Gregorian Chant in Latin and built the churches in the pueblo. Most of the peoples converted. After the arrival of the King’s men and the draught they left behind their Christinity which they associated with the violence and rapaciousness they had experienced.