High-Tech Meets Old World in Upcoming Santa Fe Found Exhibit

Santa Fe (Nov. 13, 2009) – When Santa Fe Found: Fragments of Time opens at the New Mexico History Museum on Nov. 20, futuristic technologies will give visitors new, close-up views of the past.

 

Stephen Post, co-curator of the exhibit, worked with student interns from New Mexico Highlands University and former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists brought on board by the Department of Cultural Affairs to devise new ways to present old objects, including the 400-year-old Palace of the Governors.

 

Santa Fe Found: Fragments of Time combines historical documents with archaeological artifacts from several sites of early Spanish colonists to explore the founding of La Villa Real de Santa Fé, now celebrating its 400th birthday. Set appropriately in the Palace of the Governors, where colonists established their first government, the exhibit was curated by Post and Josef Diaz of the New Mexico History Museum.

 

Some of the artifacts are too fragile for long-term exhibition; others, like the Palace, no longer exist in their original form. That’s where technology comes in.

 

Using a portable laser scanner, Ralph Chapman and David Modl of New Mexico Virtualization LLC are producing a 3D model of the oldest radiocarbon-dated dart point from Santa Fe – a small artifact from New Mexico’s indigenous people that is more than 7,000 years old. The virtual model – an enlarged, rotating, three-dimensional image – will be displayed with the actual dart point.

 

New Mexico Virtualization was formed last year by Chapman, former head of the Idaho Virtualization Lab, and two former Los Alamos Visualization Scientists, Modl and Steve Smith. The group had received a 2009 Venture Acceleration Fund grant from Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop their business; the grant supports the museum collaboration. 

 

“It has been four years since DCA received funding to position New Mexico as an international center for museum technology, and it’s gratifying to see the convergence of Highlands students, museums, and private companies,” said Mimi Roberts, DCA director for media projects. “Visitors who come to see Santa Fe Found are in for a special treat.”

The little basalt dart point that New Mexico Virtualization worked with will be on public view for the first time since it was discovered in 1995 by Post, deputy director of the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies. During the excavation of a much later hunter-gatherer campsite near N.M. 599, Post became intrigued by a dark streak in the bank of an arroyo and decided to investigate. Older points have been found outside the city, including Paleoindian sites in Santa Fe County that may date to 8,500 or 9,000 years old. This one, however, comes from the oldest radiocarbon-dated site found so far within city limits – a discovery that involved hand-removal of 14 metric tons of dirt.

 

Another artifact – a gold earring found during the excavation of the Sánchez Site near El Rancho de las Golondrinas – will be on virtual display only. (The actual earring is featured above in a photograph by Blair Clark, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.)

 

“It’s precious and can’t be put on loan for 18 months,” Post said. “This is a way museums can bring things to people.”

 

The exhibit will also feature an interactive 3D model of the 17th-century Palace of the Governors created by students Jessica Power and Daniel Atencio from the Media Arts Program at Highlands. The project is part of a DCA partnership that prepares students for careers as multimedia professionals in museums.

 

Post said the project was extremely challenging and time-consuming because of sparse information about the Palace during the 17th century. The model is a visual representation based on data gathered during several archaeological excavations in the building and historical documents.

 

“No one knows what the original Palace looked like in the 17th century,” he said.  “But we’re taking people as far back in the past as we can with this virtual model.”

 

The New Mexico History Museum is the newest addition to a campus that includes the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; the Press at the Palace of the Governors; and the Native American Artisans Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit www.nmhistorymuseum.org.

 

Media contact: Kate Nelson

Marketing Manager

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors

(505) 476-1141

(505) 554-5722 (cell)

kate.nelson@state.nm.us

http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/

 

###

New Mexico History Museum to Receive Hewett Award

New Mexico History Museum to Receive Hewett Award

Retired curator Louise Stiver also honored for lifetime achievement

Santa Fe (Nov. 3, 2009) – The New Mexico History Museum will receive the New Mexico Association of Museums’ Hewett Award on Thursday during the group’s annual meeting in Santa Fe. Also receiving a Hewett is Louise Stiver, retired senior curator of the History Museum, whose Fashioning New Mexico exhibit is on display through April 14, 2010.

The awards are named for Edgar Lee Hewett, the first director of the Museum of New Mexico from 1909 until his death in 1946. Hewett taught anthropology at UNM and was instrumental in encouraging the development of small museums throughout New Mexico. NMAM bestows two yearly awards in his honor.

The History Museum opened May 24 to blocks-long lines after 20 years of work by staff and supporters. Encompassing more than 500 years of New Mexico history, it combines artifacts, maps, photographs, films and interactive exhibits that range from Native peoples to Spanish colonization, the Mexican period, the Santa Fe Trail, outlaws, the railroad, World War II, scientists, hippies and modern-day New Mexicans.

“Dr. Hewett had a comprehensive vision of what the Museum of New Mexico could be as a center of scholarship in history and many fields of anthropology,” Levine said. “The New Mexico History Museum opened in May with a strong commitment to the exploration and exhibition of New Mexico History.  We are proud to accept this award and gratified that visitors have responded enthusiastically and with so much support for the newest museum in the system.”

Less than five months after opening, the Museum surpassed 100,000 visitors, doubling the annual attendance of its predecessor, the Palace of the Governors, now the Museum’s largest exhibit.

“Our much anticipated new History Museum has been celebrated and applauded each and every day by visitors and observers alike since its public opening on Memorial Day weekend,” said Cultural Affairs Department Secretary Stuart Ashman.  “This prestigious award from NMAM is a wonderful ovation for the developing new museum, its staff, the Fashioning New Mexico exhibition and – most especially – the creativity and work of Ms. Stiver.”

Stiver was nominated for the award by Nancy Dunn, director of the Artesia Historical Museum and Art Center. In her nomination, Dunn wrote of Stiver’s role in getting the Museum up and running, adding that she “has served New Mexico museums and NMAM for many years, serving as President and in several other offices. During her term as President, Louise was personally responsible for revitalizing the association and increasing membership.”

Stiver was also one of the editors of the book Telling New Mexico: A New History, along with Marta Weigle and Levine. The book, a collection of essays from 45 scholars and writers, accompanies the Museum’s core exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.

Stiver’s swan song, Fashioning New Mexico, cuts a swath across 150 years of New Mexico costumes and clothing – from weddings to operas, fiestas to inaugurations, baptisms to an ooh-la-la interactive exhibit on underwear. Prior to the History Museum’s opening, the collection lacked exhibition space with proper lighting and environmental controls. The collection’s emergence from the closet (so to speak) has proved one of the most popular aspects of the new museum.

For information on the exhibit, as well as a selection of photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/events.php?action=detail&eventID=407.

The New Mexico History Museum is the newest addition to a campus that includes the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; the Press at the Palace of the Governors; and the Native American Artisans Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, 113 Lincoln Ave., is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit www.nmhistorymuseum.org.

 

Media contact: Kate Nelson

Marketing Manager

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors

(505) 476-1141

(505) 554-5722 (cell)

kate.nelson@state.nm.us

http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/

 

###

Announcing the Telling New Mexico Inaugural Lecture Series

 

 

Announcing the Telling New Mexico Inaugural Lecture Series

A cultural convergence celebrating a tapestry of history

Santa Fe (Nov. 2, 2009) – The New Mexico History Museum today unveiled a new subscription lecture series to accompany the book, Telling New Mexico: A New History. Speakers for the five-part Telling New Mexico Inaugural Lecture Series will cover a range of topics – from the earliest Spanish colonists to Blackdom to Japanese internment camps to Navajo women.

The series will be held in the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium. Each lecture costs $10; a subscription to all five lectures costs $40. For $100, participants will be named “event sponsors” and receive a paperback version of Telling New Mexico: A New History, autographed by the volume editors. 

To purchase tickets online (until 4 pm the Friday before each lecture), visit the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s website at http://www.museumfoundation.org/tellingnm. Tickets can also be purchased at the Museum Shops in the Palace and the New Mexico History Museum.   

The series kicks off at 1 pm, Sunday, Nov. 22, with a special reception honoring Marianne O’Shaughnessy and her late husband, Michael O’Shaughnessy, who provided funding for the series, and Marta Weigle, editor of Telling New Mexico. The reception will be in the John Gaw Meem Community Room (enter through the New Mexico History Museum’s Washington Avenue entrance).

The Telling New Mexico Inaugural Lecture Series takes places on these Sundays at 2 p.m.:

Nov. 22, 2pm: Following the opening reception, Dr. Thomas Chávez, former director of the Palace of the Governors and the National Hispanic Cultural Center, on his current book project, a history of the Palace of the Governors. 

Jan. 31, 2 pm: Author Thomas Lark on the history of African-Americans in New Mexico; and the Rev. Landjur Abukusumo, president of the Blackdom Memorial Foundation, on the pioneers of the Blackdom community in Roswell. Special treat: The Afro-Gospel Praise Experience will perform a mixture of Afro-Latin rhythms and traditional gospel.

March 28, 2 pm: Gail Y. Okawa, professor of English at Youngstown State University in Ohio, on Santa Fe’s WWII Japanese internment camps, including one that held her late grandfather.

May 2, 2pm: UNM History Professor Ferenc Szasz on New Mexico’s role in developing the atomic bomb.

Aug. 22, 2pm: Diné author Jennifer Nez Denetdale on the stories of Navajo women, from her current book project.

The New Mexico History Museum is the newest addition to a campus that includes the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; the Press at the Palace of the Governors; and the Native American Artisans Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, 113 Lincoln Ave., is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit www.nmhistorymuseum.org.

 

Media contact: Kate Nelson

Marketing Manager

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors

(505) 476-1141

(505) 554-5722 (cell)

kate.nelson@state.nm.us

http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/

 

###

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by reading a “banned” book!

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the culture and contributions of Hispanic Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.  In 1968 President Lyndon Johnson began the tradition with Hispanic Heritage Week.  It’s now a month-long celebration from September 15 to October 15th, and the dates include independence days for several Latin American countries as well as Columbus Day.

In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest in Guanajuato, Mexico, called for Mexican independence from Spanish rule.  El Grito de Dolores is now celebrated across the Southwest on September 16th

But a month-long extravaganza isn’t long enough for Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary. Celebrations started on September 4th and will continue throughout 2010.  ¡ Que Viva la Fiesta!

Also falling within Hispanic Heritage Month, is the annual Banned Books Week, September 26th to October 3rd.  This celebration of the freedom to read has been sponsored by the American Library Association since 1982.

This year why not celebrate both events by reading (or re-reading) New Mexico’s own Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima.  It’s this year’s selection for a national reading program that highlights Latino literature and Latino authors which is sponsored by LatinoStories.com.  Bless Me, Ultima, first published in 1972, has won numerous awards, and was the People’s Choice winner at the New Mexico Book Awards in 2007.

 This Anaya classic is also number five on the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008 as reported by the American Library Association. ¡Que disfrute el libro!

 http://www.santafefiesta.org/

 http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/chh/bio/anaya_r.htm

 http://latinostories.com/

 http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm

Noted Historian John L. Kessell to give Santa Fe Fiesta Lecture

“A Long Time Coming: The 17th-Century Pueblo-Spanish War”

 

Santa Fe, NM (Aug. 20, 2009) –John L. Kessell will give the annual Santa Fe Fiesta Lecture at 6:30 pm, Wednesday, Sept. 9, in the New Mexico Museum of Art’s St. Francis Auditorium. General admission is $5, on a first-come basis. Members of the Palace Guard and the Fiesta Council, co-sponsors of the event, are free.

Kessell’s lecture, “A Long Time Coming: The 17th-Century Pueblo-Spanish War,” will consider several questions. The Pueblo Indians had endured for three generations under Spanish rule before they threw off the colonial yoke. What took them so long? Why was war so long in coming?  Was the colonial regime really not so bad after all? Did the benefits of coexistence repeatedly undermine the urge to revolt?  Or were the Pueblos so deeply divided by pre-contact grudges and by the new promise of settling old scores through alliance with Spaniards that they simply could not rally themselves until 1680?  What did Esteban Clemente get wrong in 1670 that Pueblo Revolt leader Po’Pay got right in 1680?

Kessell, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, specializes in colonial Southwestern history. He has received numerous awards for his scholarship and has published widely, including his latest book, Pueblos, Spaniards, and the Kingdom of New Mexico (University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), an even-handed narrative of the tumultuous 17th-century Spanish colony.

No individual Spaniard figured more prominently in New Mexico’s long history than Madrid-bred Diego de Vargas (1643-1704), the refounding father whose legacy has been celebrated every year since 1712 in Las Fiestas de Santa Fe. (This year’s fiesta is Sept. 11-13.) The historical contributions of Vargas, twice governor of the kingdom of New Mexico, and other Spanish colonists have been largely ignored by the Eastern historical establishment in the United States, Kessell contends. Through his efforts, the Guggenheim Foundation, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and National Endowment for the Humanities finally made a place for Vargas at the tertulia of Washington, Jefferson, and Adams.

As a result of their financial support, the long-term Vargas Project led by Kessell at the University of New Mexico, 1980-2002, published in English translation a six-volume scholarly edition of the Journals of Don Diego de Vargas, 1691-1704, thereby making available to students, scholars, teachers, and the public the principal archives of Vargas’ pivotal government.

Since his retirement from UNM in 2000, Kessell has continued to lecture to a variety of groups on topics relating to Spain’s presence in the American Southwest. He has repeatedly offered the Spanish background in seminars for high school teachers under the Teach America Program. Recently in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, he provided the third lecture to the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “Jamestown, Québec, and Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings,” placing Santa Fe’s unique history in its Spanish context.

Pueblos, Spaniards and the Kingdom of New Mexico sets aside stereotypes of Native American Edens and the Black Legend of unique Spanish cruelty, and offers a lively narrative of a tense but interwoven coexistence. Beginning with the first permanent Spanish settlement among the Pueblos of the Rio Grande in 1598, Kessell proposes a set of relations more complicated than previous accounts have envisioned and then reinterprets the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and the Spanish reconquest in the 1690s.

 

Media contact:

Kate Nelson

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors

(505) 476-1141

Kate.nelson@state.nm.us

 

###

Native Tradition and Art combine for Great Weekend in Santa Fe

If you visited Indian Market on its third anniversary in 1925, you could have purchased a pot from now-famed San Ildefonso Pueblo potters Maria and Julian Martinez. This glass lantern slide photograph shows the two working in front of the Palace of the Governors Portal. Photo courtesy of the Photo Archives, Neg. No. 200043.Visit the online photo archives at http://palaceofthegovernors.org/photoarchives.html

 

This weekend your visit will be rewarded with a rich cultural experience in the Palace of the Governors courtyard, which will include this entertainment:

 

Native Artisans Courtyard Celebration 2009

DANCE PERFORMANCES

 

(this schedule is accurate as of press time)

 

Saturday, August 22

 

9:00 am – Opening/welcome

 

9:30 am – Oak Canyon Dancers

[Jemez Pueblo]

Traditional Jemez Pueblo Dance

 

10:30 am – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Traditional and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

11:00 am – Red Turtle Dancers

[Northern Pueblos]

Traditional Northern Pueblo

Children’s Dance

 

12:00 noon – Oak Canyon Dancers

[Jemez Pueblo]

Traditional Jemez Pueblo Dance

 

1:00 pm – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Tradition and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

1:30 pm – Evan Trujillo

Taos Pueblo

Native American Song & Dance

 

2:00 pm – Red Turtle Dancers

[Northern Pueblos]

Traditional Northern Pueblo

Children’s Dance

 

3:00 pm – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Tradition and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

4:00 pm – RAFFLE Benefit for

Palace of Governors

Vendor Program

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 23

 

9:00 am – Opening/welcome

 

9:30 am – Oak Canyon Dancers

[Jemez Pueblo]

Traditional Jemez Pueblo Dance

 

10:30 am – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Tradition and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

11:00 am – Red Turtle Dancers

[Northern Pueblos]

Traditional Northern Pueblo

Children’s Dance

 

12:00 noon – Oak Canyon Dancers

[Jemez Pueblo]

Traditional Jemez Pueblo Dance

 

1:00 pm – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Tradition and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

1:30 pm – Evan Trujillo

Taos Pueblo

Native American Song & Dance

 

2:00 pm – Red Turtle Dancers

[Northern Pueblos]

Traditional Northern Pueblo

Children’s Dance

 

3:00 pm – Tony Duncan Dance Troupe

[San Carlos Apache/Arikara

Nation/Navajo]

Tradition and Contemporary

Native American Song & Dance

 

4:00 pm – RAFFLE Benefit for

Palace of Governors

Vendor Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fray Angélico Chávez History Library obtains “rediscovered” letters by Billy the Kid

Santa Fe, NM (July 29, 2009) – The New Mexico History Museum’s Fray Angélico Chávez History Library has obtained several documents pertaining to Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War from the Lincoln State Monument. The Library and Monument are both New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs properties.

 

Librarian Tomas Jaehn said the documents had been acquired by the defunct Lincoln County Heritage Trust, which was absorbed by the Hubbard Museum in Ruidoso in 1999. Two years ago, the Lincoln State Monument took over several buildings and their contents from the Hubbard Museum and has since cared for them under professional storage conditions – but not, until now, for public viewing. Among them are Pat Garrett’s cattle-brand certificate, an arrest warrant for John Chisum and, most important, two letters by Billy the Kid to Governor Lew Wallace.

 

Staff at the Monument and the History Library felt the library was a more conducive environment for those rare items and they are now housed at the library at 120 Washington Ave., in Santa Fe. They can be viewed upon request during regular public hours (Tue-Fri, 1-5pm).

 

English author Fred Nolan, notable for several books on Billy the Kid, John Tunstall and the Lincoln County War, recently made a courtesy visit to the Chávez Library, along with his fellow Billy the Kid aficionado Bob McCubbin. Nolan and McCubbin had seen the letters years ago and were the first members of the public to see them again after all these years. They declared themselves extremely pleased to see the items in a safe library environment where historians and others interested in the Lincoln County War can view them.

 

“A significant ‘rediscovery’” is how Nolan characterized the letters, and he praised their new resting place as one “which will make two letters written by Billy the Kid available to an even wider audience.”

 

The letters reveal a literate writer with good penmanship as he sought to hold Governor Wallace to a purported promise of a pardon. The two met once in Lincoln as Billy tried to parlay his willingness as a prosecution witness into an official amnesty, but the territorial governor eventually did not prevent the judge from signing his death warrant.

 

The Lincoln County War in 1878 had been a battle built on the competing economics of two mercantile businesses, represented by the Murphy-Dolan faction and the Tunstall-McSween faction, which William H. Bonney (known to history as Billy the Kid) supported. The prize worth fighting for was government contracts, but dozens of deaths and the lingering legend of one participant was the main result. The final chapter of the Lincoln County War was written when Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881 in Ft. Sumner, N.M..

 

The story of the Lincoln County War and Billy the Kid is included in the New Mexico History Museum’s main exhibition, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now at 113 Lincoln Ave., Santa Fe. Many of the buildings that were once the backdrop to the conflict are still standing along Main Street in Lincoln, N.M., where the Lincoln State Monument Lincoln State Monument (http://www.nmmonuments.org/inst.php?inst=7) serves as a world-class draw for tourists and scholars – an attraction confirmed by the New Mexico Tourism Department’s new Web site devoted to Billy the Kid: http://www.newmexico.org/billythekid/.

 

This weekend is the annual Old Lincoln Days event at the Monument. Call 575-653-4372 for information.

 

The Fray Angélico Chávez History Library is the institutional successor to New Mexico’s oldest library (1851). A non-circulating, closed-stack research facility, it preserves historical materials in many formats documenting the history of the state, the Southwest, and meso-America from pre-European contact to the present.

 

For more information on the acquisitions and the Library, contact Tomas Jaehn at 476-5090.

 

The New Mexico History Museum is a 96,000-square-foot addition to the Palace of the Governors’ campus, which includes the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library and Photo Archives, the Palace Print Shop & Bindery, and the Portal Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. The Museum is at 113 Lincoln Ave., just north of the Palace at 105 W. Palace Ave., on the Santa Fe Plaza. For more information, visit www.nmhistorymuseum.org or www.palaceofthegovernors.org.

 

 

Media contact: Kate Nelson

New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors

(505) 476-1141

(505) 554-5722 (cell)

kate.nelson@state.nm.us

www.media.museumofnewmexico.org

 

###

A Moment in Time, Etched in Stone

A 1968 work of historian Marc Simmons, Report on the barrio de Guadalupe, was just added to the online catalog of the Fray Angelico Chavez Library. One of the chapters describes the Albino Perez monument, “a small boulder with a polished face and inscription lies enclosed within a rusting iron fence in the 1400 block of Agua Fria Street. The words carved in stone read: Governor Perez was assassinated on this spot on Aug. 9, 1837. Erected by sunshine Chapter, DAR, 1901”.

This chapter from the Report about the Perez monument tells th interesting story of the “Chimayo Rebellion” of 1837. Sometimes called a tax rebellion, the Revolt of 1837 opposed the administration sent by Mexican President Santa Anna to New Mexico. Governor Albino Perez and approximately 20 other government supporters were killed in the insurrection.

There is a letter from an eyewitness to the Chimayo Rebellion on display in the Linking Nations, Perils of Independence area in the New Mexico History Museum Core Exhibit, Telling New Mexico. This letter is part of the manuscript collection of Carl Blumner Letters in the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library, which can be found online at http://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=nmsm1ac231.xml

Recently, while relaxing in the Courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, my eye caught sight of a rock which bore the inscription commemorating the assassination of Governor Perez. On Agua Fria Street no more, the Albino Perez Monument now rests safely in the peaceful courtyard that links the Palace of the Governors with the New Mexico History Museum.

About the Author:

Patricia Hewitt is the Cataloger at Fray Angelico Chavez History Library in the New Mexico History Museum, Santa Fe, NM

Texas vs. New Mexico

TEXAS vs. NEW MEXICO

One botched land survey plus two neighboring states
equals 160 years of fussin’ and fightin’

Santa Fe, NM – You’d think, after 160 years, that state borders are set in stone. Think again.

As visitors to the New Mexico History Museum (www.nmhistorymuseum.org), at 113 Lincoln Ave. just off the Santa Fe Plaza, will discover, the blurry borders between Texas and New Mexico have fueled a century of mostly good-natured feuding that has continued into the new millennium. The museum’s computer-interactive exhibit, “Shifting Boundaries,” includes an examination of the intertwined histories of the two states, which at times have acted like contentious neighbors squabbling over the placement of a backyard fence.

While the Texas-New Mexico border officially was established by the Compromise of 1850, its precise boundaries were subject to interpretation, the whims of Mother Nature, and – whoops! – simple human error. It turns out that when surveyor John H. Clark in 1859 established the nation’s 103rd meridian as the border between Texas and New Mexico, he accidentally set the boundary about three miles too far west.

The narrow strip of debated land runs along New Mexico’s now-eastern border for 320 miles and encompasses the now-Texas towns of Farwell, Texline, Bledsoe and Bronco.

“That’s our land!” declared officials of the territory of New Mexico, after the error was uncovered during their bid for statehood in 1910. “Don’t even think about it,” replied the state of Texas, which hadn’t been keen about relinquishing slavery or the territory of New Mexico in the first place. “Drop it – or else forget about becoming a state,” Congress told the New Mexicans in 1911.

And so the matter festered for the next 100 years, erupting most recently with a 2005 bill in the New Mexico Senate suing Texas for the land, which died in the legislative process. Two years before, the land commissioners of the two states had proposed to settle the dispute with an old-fashioned duel using antique pistols, followed by a skeet shoot. Fortunately, no modern-day blood was shed, but neither was the issue resolved.

“The exhibit shows that we are still fighting border wars,” said Dr. Frances Levine, director of the New Mexico History Museum. “We don’t always have guns drawn, but our states haggle over political boundaries all the time. The same thing happened with water rights. Many people don’t know that this is an issue that simply won’t die.”

Another point of contention between the two states has been New Mexico’s southwestern border, defined in the 1850 Compromise by the winding Rio Grande. Nice idea, but shouldn’t somebody have imagined that the river, over time, might very well change its course and muck up a perfectly sensible boundary?

Visit the New Mexico History Museum to learn how the boundaries of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona – the entire Southwest – have changed over time and to ponder what our shared heritage reveals about our future. Get into the stories that defined the American West.

New Mexico History Museum
at 113 Lincoln Avenue, just behind the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza.

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Previous releases:
The Long Walk of the Navajo and Mescalaro Indians and its Enduring Mark on Western History

It’s History in the Making as the Nation’s Newest Museum Opens its Doors

Spiritual Blessings and Pilgrimage Kick Off Museum’s Second Day of Grand Opening Events

Riding the Rails … In Style

Duty, Sacrifice, Honor

Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

Fashioning New Mexico

The Tiffany Ties that Bind

The Railroad Wars

Other Sites:

NM History Museum on Twitter

NM History Museum on Facebook

NM History Museum on Youtube

NM History Museum on Flickr

Media Contacts:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141
Kate.Nelson@state.nm.us
www.nmhistorymuseum.org


The Long Walk of the Navajo and Mescalaro Indians and its Enduring Mark on Western History

SANTA FE – The story was born in one man’s misguided notion of a utopia for Native Americans. It ended with one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the American West – the Long Walk.

More than a century after, the disastrous relocation of Navajo and Mescalero Apache Indians to Bosque Redondo, its scars still haunt the memories of the Navajo and Mescalero people, and the history of Kit Carson – who he was and what his rightful legacy might have been. The stories of Carson and of the Long Walk are among the many told at the New Mexico History Museum now open at 113 Lincoln Avenue on the historic Santa Fe Plaza.

In 1862, Col. James H. Carleton, then in charge of the U.S. “Department of New Mexico,” perceived a threat to settlers from the Native Americans who had long called this place their home. Clothing his solution in the form of a benevolent future, he created a vision of an agricultural reservation in eastern New Mexico, a sparsely populated area fed by the slender Pecos River. His intent, now seen through the darker lens of history, was to force the tribes “to give way to the insatiable progress of our race.”

To carry it out, Carleton turned to Christopher Houston “Kit” Carson, a Kentucky-born frontiersman and ally of the near-mythical John C. Frémont. At first, Carson resisted the order, which read in part: “All Indian men of that tribe (the Mescalero Apache) are to be killed whenever and wherever you can find them. The women and children will not be harmed, but you will take them prisoners.”

Carson could not bring himself to abide in full. Instead, he took Apache men prisoner and eventually persuaded the tribe to surrender and move from their southwestern New Mexico homelands to Bosque Redondo. In 1863, more than 400 arrived at an incomplete military fort and put to work.

Carleton then issued a similar order for the Navajo, but had to play upon Carson’s duty to country. He complied – again, in part. In the siege of Canyon de Chelly, the spiritual heartland of the Navajo people, Carson burned the tribe’s crops and peach orchards, shot their livestock and destroyed wells. Eventually, the Navajo surrendered and 10,000 of them began the 350-mile walk from northwestern New Mexico to Bosque Redondo. Marched at a constant pace, the people were poorly clothed and fed. One in five died. One account says a woman in labor was shot to death because she could not keep up.

Once at the 400-square-mile Bosque Redondo, the futility of Carleton’s utopia was exposed. The two tribes had longstanding rivalries and different languages. Little firewood was available, there were no tents, and the only water source, the Pecos River, was laden with salt that weakened the soil and caused intestinal trouble. Comanche raids cost the tribes what little they had. Smallpox infected them. An estimated 1,500 perished in the winter of 1863-64 alone.

Carleton’s own soldiers, perhaps sensing this last gasp of Manifest Destiny, dubbed the place “Carletonia.”

In 1865, all of the Mescalero Apache escaped, despite the death warrant it carried. The Navajo remained until 1868, when Gen. William T. Sherman crafted a treaty granting both tribes permanent rights to a portion of their ancestral lands. On June 18, 1868, freedom in hand, the Navajo people began yet another long walk, this time home.

Today, the Bosque Redondo Memorial at the Fort Sumner State Monument southeast of Santa Rosa, N.M., recounts the suffering – and the resilience – of the people who endured Carleton’s “utopia.” The National Park Service is exploring the creation of a National Historic Trail commemorating the Long Walk. And on the Mescalero and Navajo reservations, people continue to practice their traditional ways and speak their traditional languages, while fully engaging in 21st century life.

As for Carson, the debate over his legacy continues. In his 2006 book, “Blood and Thunder,” award-winning author Hampton Sides examines the many sides of the story, which continue to confound. Of Carson, he writes: “He was the prototype of the Western hero. Before there were Stetson hats and barbed-wire fences, before there were Wild West shows or Colt six-shooters to be slung at the O.K. Corral, there was Nature’s Gentleman, the original purple cliché of the purple sage. Carson hated it all. Without his consent, and without receiving a single dollar, he was becoming a caricature.”

Without resorting to caricatures, the New Mexico History Museum aims to lay out the facts and let visitors come to their own conclusions. In its 96,000 square feet, the Museum shares more than 400 centuries of cultural interactions among Native Americans, Spanish colonists, frontier settlers, nuclear scientists and the artists, writers and photographers who continue to plant new and fruitful roots. Get into it!

New Mexico History Museum
at 113 Lincoln Avenue, just behind the Palace of the Governors on the Santa Fe Plaza

For more information about the New Mexico History Museum, including a selection of user-ready high-resolution photographs, log onto http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/nmhm. More than 8,000 additional, high-resolution photographs illustrating the history of New Mexico are available by keyword search at www.palaceofthegovernors.org (click on “Photo Archives” then on “Digitized Collections”). Most requests for scans from this site can be delivered the same day, and usage is free for publicity purposes only.

Previous releases:
It’s History in the Making as the Nation’s Newest Museum Opens its Doors

Spiritual Blessings and Pilgrimage Kick Off Museum’s Second Day of Grand Opening Events

Riding the Rails … In Style

Duty, Sacrifice, Honor

Where ancient artifacts meet cutting-edge art

Fashioning New Mexico

The Tiffany Ties that Bind

The Railroad Wars

The New Face of History

The Tales that Made the American West

New Mexico History Museum’s Core Exhibits

Telling the People’s Stories: A Message from the Director

Creating a Place for Our Past, by Dr. Frances Levine, El Palacio, Summer 2006

Other Sites:

NM History Museum on Twitter

NM History Museum on Facebook

NM History Museum on Youtube

NM History Museum on Flickr

Media Contact:
Kate Nelson
New Mexico History Museum
505 476 1141
Kate.Nelson@state.nm.us
www.nmhistorymuseum.org