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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.
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
The Piro Area 1580-1680
La Provincia de los Piros, Michael Bletzer