Professor of Educational Foundations, Teacher Education, and Indigenous Educational History. 

Bernardo Gallegos


Most of my current writing and research focuses on Indigenous narratives, especially those of slave descendants in New Mexico. I am currently working on a book on Indigenous Identities and Narratives, focussing more specifically on Pueblo/Spanish mixed bloods and Genizaros (indigenous slaves) and their descendents. My own ethnic background is closely related to my research, thus my writing is both autobiographical and historical and supported by extensive archival work. ​I am a mixed-blood (Coyote) of Pueblo (Zuni,Isleta),  Genizaro, African, and Spanish ancestry. My maternal Grandparents are Zuni/Spanish/French/ mixed-bloods from Peralta, Valencia, and Tome just south of Isleta Pueblo.  My paternal Grandparents are identified in baptismal, marriage and census records as Coyotes, Lobos (Indian/African), and Mestizos from the vicinity (just north) of Isleta Pueblo (Los Padillas).  

Genizaros were a group of Indians whose descendents were granted state recognition as an Indigenous group by the 2007 New Mexico Legislature. Genizaros was the term used in the Spanish and Mexican periods to identify Indian slaves who served in Spanish, Mexican, and American households.  The term was sometimes used to identify Pueblo Indians who were living in Spanish towns such as Santa Fe. Most Genizaros were Navajos, Pawnees, Apaches, Kiowa Apaches, Utes, and Paiutes who had been sold into slavery at a young age and functioned as house servants and sheepherders. Almost all of the more recent Genizaros in fact were of Navajo ancestry, as the source for Indian slaves during the Mexican and early American period (1821-1880) was the Dine Nation. ​Throughout the past 300 years many Genizaros have produced offspring with people from the pueblos and with Spanish and others, thus there is a significant population of persons like myself in New Mexico. During the Spanish and Mexican periods Genizaros were among the founders of several communities on the periphery of New Mexico such as Tome, Belen, Abuquiu, Ranchos de Taos, and San Miguel del Bado. Genizaros are not federally recognized and most likely never will be, as they are not a tribe, just a group of slave descendants, much like African Americans today. 

​Both of my families are from communities adjacent to Isleta Pueblo which is just south of Albuquerque. My paternal grandparents like their ancestors before them, were baptized and married in the Pueblo. My maternal family is from the Tome-Valencia settlements, which were described as follows by a Spanish Religious official (Fray Menchero) in the 1740:

New Settlement of the Genizaro Indians

​"This is a new settlement, composed of various nations, who are kept in peace, union, and charity by the special providence of God and the efforts of the missionaries,... the Indians are of the various nations that have been taken captive by the Comanche Apaches, a nation so bellicose and so brave that it dominates all those of the interior country...They sell people of all these nations to the Spaniards of the kingdom, by whom they are held in servitude, the adults being instructed by the fathers and the children baptized. It sometimes happens that the Indians are not well treated in this servitude, no thought being given to the hardships of their captivity, and still less to the fact that they are neophytes, and should be cared for and treated with kindness. For this reason many desert and become apostates. Distressed by this, the missionaries informed the governor of it, so that, in a matter of such great importance, he might take the proper measures. Believing the petition to be justified,...he ordered by proclamation throughout the kingdom that all the Indian men and women neophytes who received ill-treatment from their masters should report it to him, so that if the case were proved, he might take the necessary measures. In fact a number did apply to him, and he assigned to them for their residence and settlement, in the name of his Majesty, a place called Valencia and Cerro de Tome, thirty leagues distant from the capital to the south, in a beautiful plain bathed by the Rio (del) Norte. There are congregated more than forty families in a great union, as if they were all of the same nation, all owing to the zeal in the father missionary of Isleta, which is a little more than two leagues from there, to the north. This settlement dates from the year 1740. The people engage in agricultural and are under obligation to go out and explore the country in pursuit of the enemy, which they are doing withgreat bravery and zeal in their obedience, and under the direction of the said father they are erecting their church without any cost to the royal crown." (From: Hackett, Charles W." Historical Documents Relating to New Mexico, Nueva Vizcaya, and Approaches Thereto." Page: 395.Vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institute, 1937) 

Tome was again mentioned in the following 1780 description of Genizaros:

​​"In all the Spanish towns of New Mexico there exists a class of Indians called genizaros. These are made up of captive Comanches, apaches, etc. who were taken as youngsters and raised among us, and who have married in the province…They are forced to live among the Spaniards, without lands or other means to subsist except the bow and arrow which serves them when they go into the back country to hunt deer for food…They are fine soldiers, very warlike…Expecting the genizaros to work for daily wages is a folly because of the abuses they have experienced, especially from the alcaldes mayores in the past…In two places, Belen and Tome, some sixty families of genizaros have congregated. (Morfi, uan Agustin, "

Account of Disorders in New Mexico in 1778. translated by Marc Simmons. Isleta, New Mexico: San Agustin Press, 1968 

Gallegos Men...Dad (Bernardo) in background with glasses, behind my Grandpa Henry; Uncle Polo in tux; Uncle Bony (Bonifacio) in white sportcoat; and Uncle Le (Florentino) in blue suit with bolo tie.