Tewa culture shares many features with other Southwest Pueblos and derives from the pre-Pueblo peoples and cultures known as Anasazi, whose origins are found in archaeological sites at Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado and extend southward following the courses of the upper Rio Grande and Chama Rivers in New Mexico and the San Juan River in Arizona. In 1598, the Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate established the Spanish capital of New Mexico at Yungue, a Tewa village located across the river from San Juan Pueblo. The capital was subsequently moved to San Juan Pueblo. From this locale, Oñate and his men subjected the Tewa and other Pueblo peoples to extraordinarily harsh rule in an attempt to force their conversion to Catholicism. Missions were established in all the pueblos. The capital was moved to Santa Fe in 1609 when Pedro de Peralta replaced Oñate. By 1680, the Pueblo peoples had developed a plan to remove the yoke of colonial oppression, successfully forcing the Spanish south of the Rio Grande in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. In 1692, Diego de Vargas began the reconquest of the Pueblos, securely reestablishing Santa Fe as the Spanish capital in 1694. In 1696, a second Pueblo revolt occurred but was quickly put down. Apache and Navajo raids for food and captives, which had increased during this period, intensified and soon the Pueblos were taking advantage of Spanish military assistance.
When Mexico gained independence from Spain, Christianized Indians were granted citizenship. In 1858, when the United States acquired New Mexico and other Southwestern regions, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo promised citizenship to all Mexican citizens of the region who wished it, Including the Pueblos. In 1912, it was necessary for the Pueblo of San Juan to sue the U.S. government in order to gain the status of American Indian so that native land and water rights and religious and individual rights could be protected. Hispanic and Anglo-Americans had moved onto Pueblo lands, and many Pueblos had lost their best agricultural areas. In 1920, the United States established the Pueblo Lands Board to settle disputed claims. Eventually, the Tewa gained full citizenship status while retaining indigenous rights to land, water, and religious expression, which, however, have most often been secured only through litigation in federal courts.