When Jesus Came, The Corn Mothers Went Away gives an in-depth history of the Pueblo Indians before and after the Spanish conquest.

It describes the forced changes the Spanish brought to the Indians, and also the changes brought to the Spaniards who came to “civilize” the Indians. The author's thesis is that the Pueblo Indians and other Indians were treated cruelly by the Spanish, who justified their crime by claiming they were civilizing an uncivilized nation, by changing their way of culture, social standing, marriage and sexuality practices to what the Spaniards deemed as correct.The Spaniards refused to acknowledge the Indian's culture as culture and set out to forcibly change the Indians. Even while the Spaniards themselves were influenced by the Indian way of life, the Indians continually suffered under the Spanish rule.

One of the strengths of this book is the historic content. The author recorded a great deal of history about the life of the Pueblo Indians before the Spanish conquest. Customs and rituals were cleverly depicted. The story was told of not just what the Indians did, but also gave some premise as to why.The frequent explanations gave appreciable insight into the lives of the Pueblo Indians. Several traditional stories were included which illustrated what the Indians believed their genesis to be.

The stories provided an engaging backdrop to the book. Their traditions were portrayed in a neutral light, without signifying a positive or negative influence on their way of life. One of the strengths was the way the Indians were presented as knowledgeable, and not ignorant, as is often depicted. The Indians had traditions and culture and a way of life before the Spanish conquistadors invaded.Frequent explanations were given as to why the Indians reacted in certain ways to the Spaniard advancements. The fact that the Indians didn't embrace all the changes that took place does not imply foolishness, but rather, stubbornness.

The Indians reaction to Spanish conquistadors coming and forcing their religion and their way of life upon them would be expected from almost any culture. One of the weaknesses of this book was the way in which a strong opinion of the author frequently came to the surface.The impression given when reading was one of bias in that the Spanish were wrong to come in and refine everything. This was reflected in the fact that periodically within the book, when the Spanish conquistadors did something to the Indians, it was pointed out how inhumane it was. Yet, when the Indians retaliated in some way, it was quickly pointed out how justified they were.

The mentioned advantages that the Indians gained through the Spaniards were infrequent and underdeveloped. One of the weaknesses was the shortcoming in writing. Explanations with dates and statistics shown in charts were hard to follow.Though not always the case, dates already gone over in detail, were revisited with more detail, at the same distant dates were mentioned frequently, making the timeline tremendously confusing. It could have been much better presented.

The charts, when present, were often mushed too close together, with short, unclear explanations, making comprehension difficult. This book was heavy reading about a subject I never wanted to dig into detail about. It was long and boring. That being said, reading it gave me more of an appreciation for the Indian culture.It also made me realize how wrong it was for so much of that culture to be forcibly removed.

George Santayana once pointed out that those who neglect the past are doomed to repeat it. The things which happened in this book are part of American history. Learning from the past makes us more cautious of the future. Overall I would say that this book was well written, though there was much confusion with dates and timeline. If only for my love of learning of things long past, I enjoyed this book and the things it taught me.

However, I will never read it again!