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Hų́łothə́na Wars (Vandverse)

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Hų́łothə́na Wars
Montezumas castle arizona.jpg
The remains of a minor hų́łothə́na near Cíwena, which served as a military outpost during the war
Datec. 1320 - 1389
Result Puebloan victory

Flag of New Mexico.svg Pueblo Empire
Kingdom of Cíwena
Hopi Flag Vandverse.svg Hopi Nation
Mogollon Culture

Puebloan peoples

O'odham unofficial flag.svg O'odham Empire
North Sinagua (-1376)
South Sinagua (-1386)

Hohokam peoples
Commanders and leaders

Flag of New Mexico.svg Cǫ́ltòbúna (1360-1390)

Flag of New Mexico.svg Wǫ́nemąxína (1390-)

O'odham unofficial flag.svg Hidoḑmakai † (-1370)
O'odham unofficial flag.svg Hidoḑpionag
O'odham unofficial flag.svg Ciojmaḑgakoḑk †
O'odham unofficial flag.svg Hevacuḑ
O'odham unofficial flag.svg Baikam


The Hų́łothə́na Wars were a series of progressively militant conflicts waged from approximately 1320 to 1389 in the Oasisamerica region, primarily between the Puebloan empire of Póyuopǫ̏'óne and the Hohokam empire of O'odham. The conflict is considered one of the largest wars of the region, and one of the defining events of the classical Puebloan period. Both sides would attract various allies to their side, with the Pueblo Empire primarily being aided by other Puebloan nations, such as the newly established Kingdom of Cíwena, and the O'odham being aided by the Sinagua nations.

Tensions between the Pueblo and Hohokam people, who would later form the nation of O'odham, traces back to the Great Drought at the end of the thirteenth century, when a decades-long climate event led to migration and rapid societal change, and the introduction of large scale conflict in an otherwise previously peaceful region. The Puebloans largely migrated south from their ancestral homelands in the north, leading to Hohokam territory being threatened by the encroaching northerners. The rise of Chaco, Taos, and Łocǫ́lhəo, who would later form the nation of Póyuopǫ̏'óne, would rise to prominence partially through violence against their neighbors, and their union was bet by alarm from their traditional enemies.

This period of raiding and warfare necessitated the creation of the hų́łothə́na; large-scale fortresses and defensive structures, built to deter attacks and consolidate control over surrounding regions. The first of such structures, Kánałó (OTL Montezuma Castle), would be completed around the year 1320, with the concept quickly spreading across the south in contested regions. The war would begin with infrequent raids and skirmishes between the lords of the hų́łothə́na, often divided along cultural grounds.

After 1360 the conflict escalated into formal war between the newly created empires of the period: the Pueblo Empire and the O'odham Empire. The conflict would transform from one of necessity for land and resources, to a struggle for hegemonic control over the region. In particular, the Valley of the Sun was contested, whose plentiful lands led to the twin cities of Siwañ Wa'a Ki and Cíwena, who championed the O'odham and Pueblo, respectively. In 1389 the war would conclude in favor of the Puebloan side, as Siwañ Wa'a Ki was captured and sacked. This would signal the end of the old O'odham, who largely began a migration south and west, leading to the creating of future powerful states, such as the Kingdom of the Delta. The Pueblo Empire was confirmed as the dominant power of the region, with Cíwena and other Puebloan allies also flourishing.


The late thirteenth century would be marked by a decades-long period of drought, which greatly disrupted the landscape of the region, leading to heavy migration, societal change, and the first conflicts major in an otherwise peaceful region. Many Puebloan settlements were abandoned, with their communities migrating south in search of new lands, and causing conflict with communities in their path. In the cities that remained, there was a cultural shift; the old religious structures, created based on astronomical alignments, were carefully taken apart, with doorways being sealed shut with brick and mortar. Although unsure of the exact reasons for this, later historians have postulated that this shift was in an effort to make amends with nature, by a people whose ancestors, now in command of powerful spiritual power, must have been disrupting and changing the course of nature for the worse. The systematic deconstruction of the old disruptive structures is viewed as a last ditch effort to make amends with a vengeful nature.

During this time, reign over all of Łocǫ́lhəo was firmly established by Łàcic’élena, with the loyalty of the various districts of the city bought through hefty donations of water and food. Łàcic’élena’s kingdom had been established through fierce raiding and wars of conquest against the surrounding regions, leading to his state being granted the title of the region’s first “empire”, despite directly controlling little territory. Settlements along the southern river (San Juan River) appear to be more closely controlled, as most of the inhabitants of the river were originally settlers from Łocǫ́lhəo. Łàcic’élena would become known as a “P’ȍłòwaʼána”, which roughly translates to “Water Chief”, or “Watergarch” in English, in regards to his powerful control over water sources and distribution. Following his lead, several other town chiefs would adopt his practices, creating various networks of rival warlords, each centered around a source of water or other important resource.

War related tactics quickly spread across the region, as an otherwise peaceful region was forced toward militarism, either to raids their neighbors, or to defend one’s self from other such raiders. The two kingdoms of Łocǫ́lhəo under Łàcic’élena and Taos under Cínemąxína eventually met in the middle near the Tsąmą' ǫŋwįkeyi (Rio Chama), but rather than fighting against each other, the two kingdoms cooperated against the smaller communities of the region. During the lifetimes of both rulers, the two kingdoms would continue to cooperate in matters of trade, creating a well traveled trade route between west and east.

Near the southeast edge of the ʼHakhwata (Colorado) Plateau would emerge the people known to historians as the Sinagua, which were believed to have descended from the Mogollon culture of the southeast, albeit with heavy influence from the Hohokam, who they crossed en route to their new location. Historians postulate that two Sinagua nations formed: the North and South Sinagua, with the southern nation primarily settling the Haka'he:la (Verde River), and the northern nation controlling from that river to the edge of the Paayu (Little Colorado River).

As the people of the north became increasingly militant toward the south, an important development began among the largest nations, from the Sinagua to the Hohokam south of them. Important resources would begin to be secured by constructing defensive structures, which quickly grew to become larger than any previously constructed fortifications in the region. The oldest known such structure would be constructed by the southern Sinagua as a massive cliff dwelling above the Haka'he:la, which the non-Sinagua would later call Kánałó (OTL Montezuma Castle). The fortifications at Kánałó would be heavily upgraded over the next several decades, becoming a vast fortress and seat of power for the Sinagua, eventually inspiring other nearby people to construct fortifications of their own. These vast fortresses would become known as the hų́łothə́na, often translated in English as “castle”. Especially in the southwest, where many nations converged over the rivers of the Valley of the Sun, the hų́łothə́na would become an important part of the region’s history, with many such fortresses coming into being over the century.


Early Skirmishes

The past few decades in the region saw the beginning of early, formative wars in the history of the Puebloans, but the first major war would not formally emerge until around 1320, with the beginning of the Hų́łothə́na Wars. The conflict would consist of a decades long struggle between the Puebloans and the Hohokam, as well as various other nations, that would not reach a high point until the later half of the century. By the beginning of the conflict, the Puebloans had effectively colonized across a vast region, spurred on by the initial disastrous great drought and its migratory effects. The northern stretch of the Paslápaane (Rio Grande) had come under the sway of the city of Taos, while south of Ohkay Owingeh a series of dozens of settlements emerged, with settlers from Chaco and Łocǫ́lhəo primarily. Influential cities south of Ohkay Owingeh would include Cǫ́lʼoma, Kotyit, and Nafiat, but known so important as the city of Thǫ́ne (Albuquerque), which was definitively settled by 1315.

West of the three cities of Taos, Chaco, and Łocǫ́lhəo, and their various domains, resided various other Puebloan city states, such as Oraibi and Talastima, with their territory stretching west past the ʼHakhwata River (Colorado). In the southwest this rapid migration had led to conflict with numerous other cultures that already resided in the path of the Puebloans. The territory of the Puebloans roughly terminated south of the city of Wupatki, where it met the border of the North Sinagua, who ruled settlements such as Pasiwvi and Wupatupqa. Southwest of them resided the South , who controlled ‘Haktlakva and the infamous fortress of Kánałó. The largest nation southwest of the Puebloans would be the Hohokam, who stretched as far north as the Paayu (Little Colorado River) in the north to the great city of Siwañ Wa'a Ki in the south.

A complex series of fortresses began to be constructed by local powers, in an effort to deter migrations and raids, which became known as the hų́łothə́na. At their largest, these structures would become immense cities of their own, built into cliffs and canyons, and becoming the nexus of local feudal empires. The first known hų́łothə́na to emerge is Kánałó, built around 1300, but by 1320 the number of such fortifications increased dramatically, changing greatly in style based on the local resources and terrain available. The hų́łothə́na would primarily be concentrated around the Valley of the Sun, and extending north toward the edges of the Hohokam domain, with the largest concentrations being around fertile regions contested by both parties simultaneously.

Chronicles from Taos mention that in the early 1320s a proxy war emerged in the Middle Land, as the Zuni leadership became increasingly persuaded to align with the northern Puebloans. As the confluence of the Puebloans, Hohokam, and Mogollon, the region was increasingly diverse, with each side managing to attract settlers to take up arms in raids against the others. In the east the settlement of Abó, located south of Thǫ́ne, came to mark the southeast edge the Puebloans’ colonization, while in the southwest they became halted at the Paayu. After several initial years of light fighting, the Hohokam secured the river with the founding of the Petrified House, which became an infamous hų́łothə́na in the north. According to the Puebloans, it was there that the Hohokam took victims to be tortured and eaten, and it became a dark fortress marking the end of friendly territory.

About two years later, in 1325, the Puebloans countered with the founding of Homolovi, a fort that later developed into a non-fortified town, located due west of the Petrified House, on the southern bank of the Paayu. During this initial phase of the war, in which battles were fewer and in smaller scale compared to the later events of the war, the stretch of river between these fortresses would become a constant sight for skirmishes and raids. The Petrified House remained in operation, with close support from the nearby Hohokam town of Tjukşp 'o to the south, while also trading with Mogollon towns to the southeast, which were largely connected to the site by river. Meanwhile, the Puebloans relied on supply from Wupatki, which was far less secure, due to the river being often times captured by the Sinagua nations.

Pueblo-O'odham Phase

The Puebloans had initially been successful in the intermittent skirmishes with the Hohokam and others, as they pushed further south and founded new colonies. Despite the high cost of supporting settlements such as Homolovi, which sat in the vicinity of Hohokam settlements and hų́łothə́na, the Hohokam were initially unable to fully dislodge the Puebloan settlers of the Paayu. In 1340 a Puebloan contingent marched south from the town and successfully sacked the city of Tjukşp 'o, which shocked the southern nations of the region. Fearing the combined strength of the Puebloans should they invade formally, especially with the Tǫ̂mą War ongoing and seemingly concluding in favor of further unification, the Hohokam were motivated to centralize as well, and prepare to strike back against the invaders.

The O'odham nation was born under the leadership of Kovnal (Chief) Hidoḑmakai, who ruled from the city of Siwañ Wa'a Ki, and a religious figure known as Hidoḑpionag, meaning “The Burnt Priest”. He immediately struck back against the Puebloans, retaking Tjukşp 'o, consolidating the Petrified House, and sacking Homolovi. Hidoḑmakai’s initial war was short lasting, as he did not pursue the Pueblians much farther, after expelling them from the Paayu. He would fight numerous battles in the Middle Lands as well, where raider companies made their mark in the service of either side, despite the Zuni of Shiwinna eventually becoming formally neutral in the conflict.

After warfare continued to ramp up in the late 1350s, the Łocǫ́lhəo Union and the creation of the Póyuopǫ̏'óne (“Three Nations”) formally began another major phase in the Hų́łothə́na Wars. This newfound union would be tested in 1360, when it launched a full scale invasion into the Valley of the Sun. The Puebloan army would come to the outskirts of Siwañ Wa'a Ki, near the confluence of the Keli Akimel (Gila River) and the Onk Akimel (Salt River). The Puebloan leader, Cǫ́ltòbúna, ordered the construction of a hų́łothə́na, which would one day become the great city of Cíwena (Phoenix), in order to strike at the capital city in due time. His vision would not come to fruition, as the Puebloans were defeated in a major battle between the two encampments, which pushed the Puebloans away from the city for the time being. For the next five years the Puebloans or their allies continued to hold Cíwena, although with heavy losses. The O’odham would build another notable hų́łothə́na north of Cíwena at Celşaḑmi:sa, which further put pressure on the Puebloans.

Cíwena’s government would often flip allegiances, depending on which local chieftain manages to seize control during a Puebloan withdraw. As a result, initially the city was not formally destroyed by the O’odham. This would change in 1366, when Hidoḑmakai launched an attack against the city proper, known as the First Battle of Cíwena. The attack failed, and the fledgeling settlement pledged allegiance to Póyuopǫ̏'óne. The following year the O’odham formed an alliance with the Sinagua, who attacked north to great success against local Puebloan colonies. In 1369 Hidoḑmakai marched north to join his allies, successfully razing the city of Wupatki and traveling up the Paayu. This forced the creation of a Póyuopǫ̏'óne-Cíwena-Hopi alliance to counter his invasion.

The O’odham under Hidoḑmakai advanced as far north as the ‘Hakhwata (Colorado River), inflicting heavy damage to the various cities in his wake. At the city of Ongtupqa (Grand Canyon), he was met by a coalition army under the command of the newly christened Chief of Łùłi'heothə́na (Canyon of the Ancients), which had been recolonized by Łocǫ́lhəo. The resulting battle ended with Hidoḑmakai’s death, breaking the momentum of the northern invasion. He was succeeded by Ciojmaḑgakoḑk, whose ascension was followed by a Puebloan recapturing of the Paayu and the lands up to Cíwena in the following years.

Póyuopǫ̏'óne would form an alliance with the Mogollon, in which they settled their earlier disputes, and the Puebloans ceded most of the border territory seized from the Hohokam to them. As a result the mid 1370s saw the Puebloans and Mogollon seizing northeast O’odham. In the north the Puebloans would achieve victory at Wupatupqa in 1376, but fail to capture Kánałó, while in the south the Second Battle of Cíwena would likewise result in a narrow Póyuopǫ̏'óne victory. Around this time the North Sinagua came to be ruled by Puuhutaaqa, who made peace with the Puebloans, with the South Sinagua then overrun. In 1377 the Sinagua city of Honanki was captured, as was Celşaḑmi:sa after a brief siege.


The following spring Ciojmaḑgakoḑk died near Mogollon lands, leaving a young son named Baikam as ruler. Under the leadership of the regent Hevacuḑ, a ceasefire began known as Hevacuḑ’s Peace. The Puebloans managed to hold onto Cíwena, and now resumed heavy settlement of the region, while the Hohokam looked south toward the coast, settling colonies further outside the reach of the northerners. It was during this time that the great city of Shuhthagi Ki:him would be founded, which would one day become one of the dominant states of the region, as Xacapáy, or the Kingdom of the Delta. Additionally, after the death of Puuhutaaqa, a son born of the Sinagua and the Hopi, Tuukwiʼomaw would unite the region south of the ʼHakhwata, which formed the Yavapai Confederacy. By 1386 the Yavapai had absorbed the last of the Sinagua nations.

In 1387 the peace between the Puebloans and the O’odham finally broke down, beginning the Two Rivers Campaign around Cíwena. The Battle of Keli would solidify Puebloan control over Cíwena, and in 1389 the city of Siwañ Wa'a Ki was besieged. With the city’s fall, the old Hohokam empire ceased to exist, and the Hų́łothə́na Wars finally came to a close. Siwañ Wa'a Ki would not be rebuilt to its former glory for many years to come, allowing Cíwena , and its Puebloan king, to replace it as the dominant power of the south. Baikam of the O’odham would manage to escape the sacking and retreat to the city of Cemamagĭ Doʼag further south, but he never managed to return to his fallen capital. Instead the O’odham trend southward continued, with the nation’s people settling along the far southern coast, or in nearby city states such as Shuhthagi Ki:him.