I was in New Mexico last week, that beautiful land of wide open spaces and never-ending skies. Highlights were skiing in Taos, eating as much red chile as I could handle, and relaxing with family and friends.
When I tell people that my husband grew up in New Mexico, I am routinely asked this question: “Oh, how nice, so where in Mexico is that?” Um….to which I reply with a very brief geography lesson about the United States!
Many Americans don’t know about New Mexico’s rich history, and I’ve been lucky to learn a lot from my husband and his family. Here are some links with info about this beautiful state, including the rich histories of Native peoples, Spanish colonizers, and Jewish families escaping the Inquisition.
–Newmexicohistory.org has timelines showing important events in NM history.
–Indianpueblo.org has great information about the Native American tribes of New Mexico. It should also be noted that, unlike in other areas of the U.S., residents of New Mexico prefer to use the term “Indian.”
Santa Fe is the state capital. It was established as an important part of “New Spain” under the Spanish occupation, which spanned from what is now Panamá to the American Southwest and California. Settled by Spaniards moving north from Mexico, Santa Fe became the region’s center of politics and a home base for the Catholic Church. According to Brittanica.com, “During the first 100 years of Spanish rule, the Indian population of New Spain declined from an estimated 25 million to 1 million as a result of maltreatment, disease, and disruption of their cultures.” Throughout New Mexico you will now see large areas of land fiercely protected by the different tribes.
New Mexico also has a long history of Jewish heritage. You will hear people refer to the “crypto-Jews” of New Mexico. Under the Spanish rule, many families publicly embraced Catholicism, but held fast to their Jewish customs in the home. Today, many New Mexicans are finding out about their Jewish roots through modern-day DNA testing. Learn more here.
I hope that future visitors to NM will take the time to learn about and appreciate the diverse history of the area!
In other news, I’m offering a Spanish class this summer – check it out! There will also be food and wine….
Images courtesy of: pinterest.com, mnartists.org, nvestus-eb5.com, thedialog.org, and rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com