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Who Has Been Here?



From Piro Pueblo to National Wildlife Refuge: 

A Brief Cultural History of Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge


Eighty years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, Coronado arrived in what became Arizona and New Mexico, seeking cities of gold.  He found none in his 1540 expedition, but the later discovery of silver on the Mexican plateau brought others hoping to find riches underground as well as souls to save above it. In the early 1580s, two expeditions reached the northernmost Piro pueblo, later known as Sevilleta. 


In the centuries that followed, Sevilleta NWR’s identity shifted repeatedly, depending on who was in  power. This quiet corner of New Mexico has known Piro puebloans, Spanish conquerors, Franciscan friars, farmers, sheepherders, stockmen, sophisticated investors, and now researchers and interpreters. The land was home to Native Americans, then held by a Spanish King and his grantees, then sold to investors, and finally, given to the United States government.




Amigos de la Sevilleta


The Friends Group for Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge


Time Line


1581    Rodriquez and Chamascado visit the northernmost Piro pueblo


1598    Onate renames the pueblo Nueva Sevilla


1630    Mission Church of San Luis Obispo de la Sevilleta


1680     During the Pueblo Revolt, all Piros relocate near El Paso del Norte


1811    A group of 67 Spanish families settle in the area


1819    The 67 families successfully petition for a land grant


1846    United States take possession of New Mexico


1912    New Mexico becomes a state


1928    Socorro County purchases La Joya de la Sevilleta grant for back taxes


1937    Thomas Campbell and John Raskob purchase land grant from the county


1946     Campbell buys out Raskob and makes Sevilleta  into a cattle ranch


1966     Thomas Campbell establishes Campbell Family Trust 


1973    Sevilleta becomes a National Wildlife Refuge


To learn more about

Sevilleta NWR’s history click here

Thomas Campbell




The Piro Area 1580-1680

La Provincia de los Piros, Michael Bletzer