Pima Uprising of 1751

side-by-side images of battle re-enactment with Spanish gunman and native bowman
Even after more than 200 years, historians debate the causes and circumstances of the rebellion in 1751.

From park film, released 2020.

On November 20th in 1751, a coordinated attack on Spanish missions and settlements was carried out by O'odham rebels. The Spanish were caught completely unaware.

The O’odham had conflicted with other native peoples for years. The limited resources of the desert meant friction between the Seri to the south, the Apache to the east, and on occasion, the Colorado River tribes in the west. The O’odham were highly successful farmers, who had learned to live with all the quirks of the land they called home.

The balance of power had been shifted by the Spanish missionaries and settlers. The O’odham, due to their location and their mostly sedentary lifestyle, were most easily influenced and compelled to become part of the Spanish hierarchy. The O’odham of the Pimería Alta had found a mostly harmonious life cooperating with the Spanish and in some cases, becoming Christians and part of the mission system.

Beneath the surface there was always resentment at those missionaries who acted as monarchs, disregarding thousand of years of desert farming techniques, forcing changes in marriage and lifestyle and prohibiting any ceremony arbitrarily perceived as pagan.


By the end of the first few days, more than 100 people had been slain, included two priests recently arrived in the Pimería Alta. The missions at Guevavi, San Xavier, and all throughout the region emptied as fears mounted. The O'odham who didn't join the cause found themselves caught between Spanish retaliation and the rebels who targeted anyone appearing to support the Spanish empire.

After the bloody night, the rebels retreated, and for the next several months they raided, stealing cattle and horses. Spanish heavy cavalry moved north and turned west toward the rebel base at Baboquivari. They met a large force of mounted O’odham near present day Arivaca and quickly defeated them, leaving 49 dead O’odham on the field.

Resistance continued, though not in any flourish of battle. Though a new fort was established in the Santa Cruz Valley in June 1752, the troops spent their time hunting down pockets of rebels who had created a hideout in the center of sacred O’odham country.

Eventually, the rebellion would end and life would continue in the missions of the Pimería Alta.


Translated by Lynda Romero from the San Ignacio de Cabúrica mission book of burials, page 80-81 (Mission 2000)

In the margin: “they do not fit in the margin” [Usually they write the names of the dead in this space]

“On November 21 of this sad year of 1751, the Upper Pimas arose on order of their Pontifical Captain Luis of Sari (Saric) and killed the following in different towns:

In Arivac (Arivaca) they killed Manuel Bustamante, a 20 year old boy. Nicolas Andrada, his wife, and two children. Philipa (Felipa) Zepeda, wife of the Tailor Bartolo Bustamante.

Juan Maria Romero, his wife, and his two newborn children, Jose Naba, a 50 year old man, Philipe (Felipe), Indio Coyote from the town of Tuape, and a Nijora.

In Babokiburi (Baboquiburi,or Baboquivari), (was killed) Ignacio, Fiscal Mayor of this town, exchanged by the governor in exchange for peace (The governor was pardoned? Not sure what this means) … two daughters of Mathias Moreno, the Indian governor of Busani (Busanic), and others who did not show any resistance to the head of the revolt they killed on the pretext that they were involved in witchcraft or sorcery – there were ten of them.

In Aguas Calientes, Juan Xavier Mariñas, with his wife and two little sons, more (were killed) in Arivar (Arivaca), Ignacio, a Yaqui, and Maria, a Yaqui.

In Sariqui (Saric), Juan Lorenzo Garcia, Javier, his married son; Manuel, Ignacio Maria, his grown-up sons, Juan Jose 15-year-old.

Don Philipe (Felipe) Garcia Andaluz, Jacyntho (Jacinto) Pañuelos, a man.

Juan María Sierra, young man coyote.

Maria, Yaqui, with a son of hers, Juan Domingo Echaveria, man. In the house of Captain Luis (was killed) Magdalena Contreras with one of her children. Ignes (Ines) Tisnado with four children.

In Tubutama, Domingo Castello, soldier of Terrenate, Don Juan Barrientos, and Antonio Yañes, tailor.

In Ati (Atíl), Lorenzo Garcia with his wife and one little son.

On the way to Uquitoa (Oquitoa), Don Christoval (Cristobal) Yañez, Francisco Redondo, Diego Palomino, man, one of Palomino’s sons, Ignacio and Manuel de Amezquita, both armed men. Item (same happened to) the wife of Manuel with their two little children. Francisca Gonzalez and one son of Diego Coronado. Don Thadeo Guohorquez with his wife and three little children. Juan Contrera, Xavier Gonzalez, men, and one little Yaqui.

In the town of Uquitoa (Oquitoa), Jose Maria Albizo, his wife with a son, his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. One little mulato, and a Nijora.

In the town of Pitiqui (Pitiquito), Josepha (Josefa) Contreras, widow; Pedro Tisnado, man; Juan Philipe (Felipe) Gallegos with his wife, his sister-in-law, and one son, and one Yaqui, Pedro “el macho” (the tough guy).

In Caborca, Padre Thomas (Tomas) Tello, Juan Diego Gallegos with his wife Miguela Garcia. Joseph(a) (Josefa) Parra, wife of Juanico Coronado, with seven daughters.”

Translator’s note: I think Baboquiburi was a town. Stiger mentioned above: “On the Babokiburi (Baboquiburi), (was killed) Ignacio Fiscal Mayor of this town changed by the governor” this is important because if the town of Baboquiburi had a Fiscal or Attorney or at least a newly appointed one it could mean that they were already organized on in the process of being organized. It does not mention where Baboquiburi is exactly or give any other directions.

In Bisani, Nicolas Hyros, with an older son of his. Ignacio Mana, an Ópata. Domingo Morales with an older son. Don Manuel Monroy with an older son. Juan Thomas and another Thomas and an Ignacio, (both) Yaquis.

In San Miguel de Sonoitac, Padre Henrique Richen (Ruhen), Juan Orozco, his butler. Antonio Marcial Esfiricueta, of this last one, they say that he was killed going to Santa Theresa, and that he had escaped from Sonoitac.” Requiescant in pace et intercedant por nobis [this is a prayer in Latin that means rest in peace and intercede for us].

The (following are the) dead in this town during the confusion after the uprising.

At the beginning of December, died Bartholo, a Yaqui, shoemaker and servant of Sabina Moraga. In January, died Rosa de Mendoza, wife of Vicente Valenzuelas.

Xavier Birna, foreman of this town. A son of this last one died, Miguel Birna, better known as little bird. Died Thomas, a Yaqui, laborer of mine. Antonio, Yaqui, whom nobody knew.

Cathalina, a Yaqui. Ignacio, my cook and soapmaker. The wife of Joseph Guinilla. La vieja Jori [the old Jori], a Yaqui. Another old woman Yaqui from Aguas Calientes.

A little daughter of Luis Guinilla, Christina of Santa Magdalena. Theresa, the wife of Thomas, the Old, of Santa Magdalena. An Indian woman of Luis Dominguez. Joseph Antonio, an Apache of Second Lieutenant Salazar. Damian, a servant of Captain Don Santiago. An infant girl of Miguel Contreras. An infant boy of Vibala. A daughter of Juan, the freighter. Thomas, son of my governor. All of those adults died after receiving the Holy Sacraments. Those of reason (gente de razón, “people of reason,” meaning acculturated to Spanish ways) and infants were buried in the church. The others (were buried) in the cemetery.”

Gaspar Stiger
Doctrine Minister


The Cast of Characters


Lesson Plans about the Pima Rebellion

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    Last updated: June 10, 2020

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