I hope this note finds you all well and in good spirits.
Too many of my friends think I now live in Arizona or Mexico. I’m happily living in NEW Mexico, which has been a state of the United States since 1912. New Mexico has a rich history, a diverse population, lots of cultural diversity and as an Anglo, I’m probably in the minority, and that’s okay because most people here know who they are and how to get along. If you encounter a rude person here, it’s probably a tourist.
The first known people here were the so-called Clovis people. Then New Mexico was settled by agriculturalists who lived in permanent villages. First they had pit houses, then they built stone houses up in the cliffs. Then they built multi-story houses of mud brick close to their fields. The Spanish called them Pueblos.
In the winter of 1540-41, 477 years ago, a bad hombre named Francisco Coronado showed up here with a large gold-seeking expedition. He didn’t know how to get along with people, made demands, and after destroying the Tiguex Pueblos, he continued east to Kansas to annoy the Plains Indians, who didn’t have gold either. But word got around that this was a good place, and in 1598, Juan de Onate, another bad hombre, conquered New Mexico. Onate brought many settlers and priests. The priests busied themselves building adobe missions in all the pueblos and ordering the affairs of the Puebloans. They were not nice - even cruel - and in 1680, the Puebloans rose up in revolt and kicked the Spanish out of New Mexico. It didn’t last. Twelve years later, Diego de Vargas brought back a large number of the Spanish settlers and reconquered New Mexico. But this time, the Spanish mostly respected the Puebloans and provided a measure of security. So, people got along. Everything was cool for a century and a half.
Then in 1841, the Republic of Texas tried to double it’s puny size by laying claim to all the lands east of the Rio Grande River and sent out an armed expeditionary force. They were all arrested for their impudence in Mexican territory and sent to prison in Mexico City for correction.
The United States declared war on Mexico for similar reasons in 1846, and by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – whoops - New Mexicans suddenly found themselves living in a Territory of the United States. There’s still some ambivalent feeling about that, but people get along. Then in the winter of 1861-62, a Confederate army from Texas tried to make New Mexico a territory of the Confederacy. The annoying Texans won all their battles, but in the last one in Glorietta Pass, they lost all their supplies, ammunition, blankets, tents, wagons, tools, mounts and draft animals and had to walk home. In 1873, the railroad came, which brought cheaper goods, more trade, development, exploitation, tourists and artists.
So, I find myself living among Puebloans, Apaches, Navajos, Spanish, Mexicans, Anglo settlers, military retirees and refugees from New York City. Everybody gets along, but I’m not sure the New Yorkers are assimilating. They hang together and avoid going anywhere, even to Albuquerque. I’ve found that if you treat people nice and with respect, they will return the favor. I like that.
Now I’m going to see the Pixar film “Coco and hopefully learn a few things about some aspects of one of the cultures I’ve encountered here. This is a unique place.
I hope you have a wonderful and prosperous, joyful New Year filled with many blessings and much graciousness and love.