One way to measure the impact of the first phase of Spanish colonization(1598-1680) on the Rio Grande Pueblo peoples of New Mexico is to trace changes in the number and location pattern of their settlements (pueblos). During this period 62 percent of their pueblos were abandoned, and large parts of their territory were lost. The greatest loss occurred in the years from about 1636 to 1641, when Pueblo populations, already diminished as a result of various forms of Spanish exploitation, flight from the region, and, perhaps, earlier epidemics, suffered a major disease event that was a key factor in these abandonments, which particularly affected the Estancia, Socorro, and Albuquerque-Belen basins.

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