Manuel Trujillo Accuses Asencio Povia and Antonio Yuba of Sodomy, 1731
In 1731, Manuel Trujillo accused two Pueblo men, Acensio Povia and Antonio Yuba, of committing sodomy. Both Povia and Yuba denied this accusation, and Yuba invoked his status as a Christian in order to bolster his credibility. Governor Gervasio Cruzat y Góngora chose to exile Povia and Yuba to different pueblos for a period of four months, during which time they were to cease any and all communication with one another. This case explores sexual practices deemed “nefarious sins” as well as illustrates what scholars have called the colonial dilemma—the situation where indigenous peoples remained in a subjected state despite theological equality following their Christian conversion.
In the town of Santa Fe on the twenty fifth day of the month of June of one thousand and thirty-one years, before me, Don Antonio Pérez Velarde Lieutenant General of this Kingdom of New Mexico, appeared Manuel Trujillo vecino of the said town. He gave me information that some goats, having damaged his estate, prompted him to follow their trail and find their owner. He followed their trail to meet the owner so that he could pay for the damages. And, climbing a hill next to a glen just by a river he saw, unexpectedly and ocularly, two Indians that were committing the nefarious sin. And, recognizing well this deed he turned his horse [around] and went to where they were and gave them, with the reins of his bridle, some lashes, reprimanding them for the offense they were committing against God our Lord. And, so that they be punished, he gave me this information that I, the said Lieutenant General, can determine how justice should be served and carried out against the said two Indians and, so that they cease their desires and proceed against them, I commanded and command that they adhere to this trial and procedure and I give the order that they be put in a good prison. Ordered and signed with the witnesses at my service and acting as receiver judge due to the lack of a royal public notary.
Immediately afterwards on the said day, month, and year, I, the said lieutenant general, in virtue of the aforementioned command, ordered Joaquin de Anaya and Cristobal Martínez, soldiers of this garrison, to go in the company of the said Manuel Trujillo to the site and the place where he found and saw the said two Indians committing the said sin. That they find them and bring them [back] as prisoners. And, after having been found, that they turn them over to the guards of this garrison and send them to the Corporal of the Guards.
(Asencío Povía’s statement)
… He is called Asensio Povia and he appears to be eighteen years old because he did not know his exact age; he is a natural Indian from the Pueblo of San Francisco de Nambe; he is of the Tewa nation; he is single. Asked if he knew the cause of his imprisonment, he stated that it was because a Spaniard caught this confessant with another Indian lying on the ground belly to belly and that the referred to imprisoned Indian grabbed this confessant’s virile member and brought it to his posterior but that it was not sufficiently agitated (i.e. excited or erect) in order to put it in (the posterior), and that he could not get agitated; and that by God it did not get agitated, and that being this confessant over the other Indian belly to belly, arrived the Spaniard and eventually pulled him off and that was his response. And asked to state clearly and truthfully why there was a denunciation before me from the said Manuel Trujillo that he saw them committing the nefarious sin and not what he stated in the previous question that they were lying belly to belly, he stated that what he said was what happened and not something else because it is the truth and that he is a Christian and that by God he tells the truth in this oath that he made and affirmed and ratified. He did not provide his signature because he does not know how. His guardian signed in his place who was present at this confession.
(Antonio Yuba’s confession)
… he said that he was called Antonio Yuba; that he was thirty years of age according to his appearance because he did not know his exact age. He is a natural of Tesuque Pueblo; he is of the Tewa nation and he is single.
When asked if he knew the cause of his imprisonment, he said that it was because Manuel Trujillo came and said many things about him and the other Indian. When asked what were the things that the said Manuel Trujillo came to say, he responded that he did not know those things but that he [Trujillo] came shouting and that he went to see the governor.
Asked to confess and tell the truth because the said Manuel Trujillo saw that they were on top of one another committing the nefarious sin. He said that it was true that the other Indian was wrestling with this confessant and that he told him [Povia] to stop it that he was going to tend to his livestock and that on this occasion arrived Manuel Trujillo…. Asked to tell the truth why it is on record that when the said Trujillo arrived, this confessant was with the other Indian belly to belly and that he [Yuba] took his [Povia’s] virile member and brought it close to his posterior to commit the said sin but since there was no activity he could not execute it, [so Yuba] took the member of the said Indian, stroking it with his hands to fulfill his wish to commit the said sin. He said that it is true that when they were wrestling belly to belly the other Indian scratched this confessant’s [member] and that he took the member and pulled it to his lower part and scratched it and this is the truth by the oath that he has dated and signed and ratified …
Attention to which the detained should be freed from the prison in which they are found preceding first, and making them aware of this, my decision, in the presence of the said interpreter and defense attorney so that in view of what my order is and in its fulfillment they leave for the term of four months with everything from the day of their notification. They are to be exiled, Asencio Povia—natural of Nambe Pueblo and of the Tewa nation—to San Felipe Pueblo and Antonio Yuba—natural of Tesuque Pueblo and of the Tewa nation—to Zuni Pueblo and each one of them will remain for four months in the pueblo that is assigned, under penalty of two hundred lashes and under the same penalty, they must not return to meet or communicate their thoughts and sayings because, by doing so, [the crime] will be considered as incurred once again. And, when that term of exile is finished, they should be brought before the local justice for the record to be complied with the exile referred to by certification of the said judge. Thus, I have provided, ordered, and signed acting as the recipient before me due to the absence of a public and royal notary in this kingdom with the witnesses at my assistance that I give faith.
Don Gervasio Cruzat y Gongora, Gaspar Bitton, Juan Antonio de Unanue
Spanish Archives of New Mexico (SANM), MF 450, roll 6, frames 830-833; 845-846; 848-850; 881-882; 887. Translation by Anderson Hagler.