Welcome to Sonja Sonnenburg‘s Doña Ana Sphere Project, which focuses on the history of the Pueblo of Doña Ana, New Mexico. Research is ongoing.
The Doña Ana Sphere straddles an area from Paso del Norte (El Paso/Juarez) to north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. The people who settled in this region left us a rich legacy. Under extreme conditions, they managed to create and re-create villages for their families and others. They lived during a complicated time, and fashioned a complicated peace. Their experiences, strategies and tactics are still relevant today. See Historical Background.
The Civilians of the Doña Ana Sphere.Historically, the Village of Doña Ana in New Mexico is one of the most important villages in North America. The United States Army invaded the village in 1846 and occupied it during and after the U.S War on Mexico. As such, the village became a point of tension between the Republic of Mexico and the United States.
Most of the villagers of Doña Ana were poor, and experienced with issues of violence and intra-community tension. For them, the U.S. Army presented yet another obstacle to carefully surmount, absorb or reject.
Based on preliminary research, many of the villagers of Doña Ana were descendants of those who fled the violence of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in New Mexico. Although the revolt has been described as a set of coordinated attacks by various indigenous Pueblo Indians against Spanish colonists, most of those affected by the revolt were people of indigenous descent.  During the revolt, numerous families fled south to Paso del Norte from various locations in New Mexico. These exiles established five pueblos within the larger Paso district: Paso,Senecú del Sur, Socorro del Sur, Ysleta del Sur, and San Lorenzo del Real. These pueblos were essentially reconstituted communities.
In 1744, the approximate percentage of indigenous people living in the pueblos of Paso, San Lorenzo, Senecú, Ysleta and Socorro was 19%, 80%, 93%, 100% and 91%, respectively. When considering those of “mestizo” or mixed Indigenous-Spanish background, the percentage of persons of indigenous background living at the pueblo at Paso itself was much higher. By 1751, certain land in Paso was assigned in perpetuity to the indigenous, with prohibitions against selling or transferring. Most of the civilians in the Paso jurisdiction engaged in agricultural activities.