Did New Mexicans under Spain regard themselves as Mexican?

Did New Mexicans under Spain regard themselves as Mexican?

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Mexico, in its original sense, is the homeland of the Mexica (Aztec) people and its principal city. The sense of the name broadened, presumably as people in the metropole spoke broadly about it, and then contracted as marginal regions left its orbit.

New Mexico is an administrative region established in 1581 with a name implying apartness from Mexico. For two centuries it was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, often informally called "Mexico" after its capital city. Upon independence in 1821, the part name became the whole and New Mexicans found themselves living within their homeland's own namesake.

At independence, did the New Mexicans - people in the society called New Mexico - already regard themselves as Mexican, or did they have to get used to the idea?

You are conflating the concepts of Nation and Country.

a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.

a… territory considered as an organized political community under one government.

Nationalism - the concept that the populace of a country is best composed of a singe nation - only arises in the several decades following the French Revolution. Prior to that time the sovereign states for most of the world are alternately only part of a nation, as in the fragmented Italian and German principalities, or are empires comprising many diverse nations such as the Austrian, Ottoman, and British.

In this pre-nationalism era, the community that commanded a citizen's loyalty is exclusively comprised of the state from which citizenship is held.

For the period of your interest (mid-19th century American South West) a transition is still occurring into nationalism. Consequently there would have been no consensus, but rather a variance of opinion between whether loyalty was due to each individual's nation or to the state currently exercising government authority. As a complication, there were numerous Amerindian nations residing in the territory as well as both U.S. settlers moving west and more established Spanish/Mexican settlers. All of these peoples would have had different expectations of who, or what, their state loyalty was owed.

New Mexico joins the Union

On January 6, 1912, New Mexico is admitted into the United States as the 47th state.

Spanish explorers passed through the area that would become New Mexico in the early 16th century, encountering the well-preserved remains of a 13th-century Pueblo civilization. Exaggerated rumors about the hidden riches of these Pueblo cities encouraged the first full-scale Spanish expedition into New Mexico, led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Instead of encountering the long-departed Pueblo people, the Spanish explorers met other Indigenous groups, like the Apaches, who were fiercely resistant to the early Spanish missions and ranches in the area.

In 1609, Pedro de Peralta was made governor of the “Kingdom and Provinces of New Mexico,” and a year later he founded its capital at Santa Fe. In the late 17th century, Apache opposition to Spain’s colonial efforts briefly drove the Spanish out of New Mexico, but within a few decades they had returned. During the 18th century, the colonists expanded their ranching efforts and made attempts at farming and mining in the region.


When Spanish colonists arrived in New Mexico, they began exploiting the people, resulting in their conducting nearly continuous raids, reprisals and capturing of slaves on the nomadic Indian tribes on the borders. The slaves were referred to as genízaros. Most Genízaros were Navajo, Pawnee, Apache, Kiowa Apache, Ute, Comanche, and Paiute who had been purchased at a young age and worked as domestic servants and sheepherders. [2] In some cases, Pueblo peoples were enslaved by court order. The 1659 court case of Juan Suñi, a young Hopi man accused of stealing food and trinkets in the governor's mansion, resulted in a sentence of ten years of enslavement. [3] By the mid-1700s, stronger tribes raided weaker tribes for slaves and traded the captured Indians for commodities. By the mid-18th century, the Comanche dominated the weaker tribes in the eastern plains and sold children that they kidnapped from these tribes to villagers. [2]

Contemporary scholars believe that the objective of Spanish rule of New Mexico (and all other northern lands) was the full exploitation of the native population and resources. As Frank McNitt writes,

Governors were a greedy and rapacious lot whose single-minded interest was to wring as much personal wealth from the province as their terms allowed. They exploited Indian labor for transport, sold Indian slaves in New Spain, and sold Indian products . and other goods manufactured by Indian slave labor. [4]

Although the slaves were protected by the Laws of the Indies, [5] many of them complained of mistreatment. Although they were baptized, they sometimes left the church if they could escape from the Spanish. After the missionaries complained about mistreatment of the Indians to the governor, officials established a policy to settle the baptized Indians on land grants on the periphery of Spanish settlements. They generally supported slavery, believing the "redeemed" captives were better off after being educated and converted to Christianity. [6] These settlements became buffer communities for larger Spanish towns in the event of attack by the enemy tribes surrounding the province. [7]

The settlements of Tomé and Belén just south of Albuquerque, were described by Juan Agustin Morfi as follows in 1778:

In all the Spanish towns of New Mexico there exists a class of Indians called genizaros. These are made up of captive Comanches, Apaches, etc. who were taken as youngsters and raised among us, and who have married in the province . They are forced to live among the Spaniards, without lands or other means to subsist except the bow and arrow which serves them when they go into the back country to hunt deer for food . They are fine soldiers, very warlike . Expecting the genizaros to work for daily wages is a folly because of the abuses they have experienced, especially from the alcaldes mayores in the past . In two places, Belen and Tome, some sixty families of genizaros have congregated. [8]

By the Mexican and early American period (1821–1880), almost all of the Genízaros were of Navajo ancestry. During negotiations with the United States military, Navajo spokesmen raised the issue of Navajos being held as servants in Spanish/Mexican households. When asked how many Navajos were among the Mexicans, they responded: "over half the tribe". [9] Most of the captives never returned to the Navajo nation but remained as the lower classes in the Hispanic villages. [9] Members of different tribes intermarried in these communities.

After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico enacted the Treaty of Córdoba, which decreed that indigenous tribes within its borders were citizens of Mexico. Officially, the newly independent Mexican government proclaimed a policy of social equality for all ethnic groups, and the genízaros were officially considered equals to their vecino (villagers of mainly mixed racial background) and Pueblo neighbors. [10] This never was completely put into practice. The Mexican slave trade continued to flourish. The average price for a boy slave was $100, while girls brought $150 to $200. [11] Girls demanded a higher price because they were thought to be excellent house keepers and they were frequently used as sex slaves.

After New Mexico territory passed to American rule following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War in 1848, the issue of slavery in the new territory became a major issue, with the Whigs wanting to keep Mexico's ban on slavery and the Democrats wanting to introduce it. In the Compromise of 1850, it was decided that New Mexico Territory would be able to choose its own stance on slavery by popular sovereignty. In 1859, New Mexico passed the Act for the Protection of Slave Property. This was partially because Territorial Governor William Carr Lane and Chief Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court Grafton Baker owned black slaves. [12] Many local citizens had seen the issue in different terms soon after the Treaty had been signed, a group of prominent New Mexicans went on record in opposition to slavery, in their petition to congress to change the military government to a temporary territorial form. They were likely motivated by their desire for self-government, and the fact that the slave state of Texas claimed much of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, and that many believed that it was planning to invade again as it had in 1841 and 1843. [13] [14] However, black slaves never numbered more than a dozen during these years. [1]

On June 19, 1862, Congress prohibited slavery in all US territories. New Mexico citizens petitioned the US Senate for compensation for 600 Indian slaves that were going to be set free. [15] The Senate denied their request and sent federal agents to abolish slavery. However, when Special Indian Agent J.K. Graves visited in June 1866, he found that slavery was still widespread, and many of the federal agents had slaves. In his report, he estimated that there were 400 slaves in Santa Fe alone. [16] On March 2, 1867, Congress passed the Peonage Act of 1867, which specifically targeted New Mexican slavery.

  • "Along Came Mariana" an episode of Death Valley Days, set in 1857, concerns a young woman sold into peonage by her father in settlement of a debt. [17][18]

Today, some have argued that New Mexico has had slavery in the form of human trafficking. In cooperation with New Mexico attorney general, Life Link has created the 505 Get Free initiative, which promotes a hotline to report trafficking. [19] Santa Fe, New Mexico has also supported the initiative, both with funding and requirements for advertising the hotline. [20] The Border Violence Unit has special training to combat human trafficking in the state. [21] In 2015, New Mexico received a $1.5 million grant to combat human trafficking. [22] On July 29, 2016, the city of Albuquerque held the New Mexico World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which included speakers, entertainers and participation of SOLD: The Human Trafficking Experience. [23]

History of New Mexico Land Grants

Under Spanish rule lands were given to citizens, not in fee, as by the laws of England, but by federal tenure. The title remained in the king and the subject took the rents and profits, while on forfeiture all passed to the sovereign. After the revolt of Mexico, the republic succeeded to the rights of the king of Spain. A change in the policy of the government followed. Lands were granted to individuals for themselves and for the establishment of colonies. Private grants were limited in amount, generally to less than eleven leagues, dependent upon the purposes for which the grants were made. Grants to towns and settlements were more extensive, and consisted of farming or irrigable lands, which were parceled out to individuals, and pasture lands, or vegas, which were held in common, and which no person was permitted to appropriate to his individual use. Such lands were generally situated apart from irrigable lands.

These town grants were applied for by several individuals, asking of the local state government the privilege of establishing a colony. If the petition was favorably received and granted, an order was issued by the governor placing the petitioners in possession of the land. The petitioners then divided the lands among themselves, and made a record of their doings, and the possessors held the land from thence forward in fee simple. By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, May 26, 1848, under which New Mexico was acquired, the rights of holders of land were preserved unbroken, the United States being bound to recognize such rights so that one holding under a Mexican title should have right to a similar relation to the United States.

In order to make this beneficent provision of the treaty available to the holders of Mexican titles, on July 22, 1854, Congress passed what is known as the surveyor-general's act, providing that people claiming titles to public lands might go before the surveyor-general of New Mexico, prove their titles, and he should report to the commissioner of the general land office, that official to the secretary of the interior, and the secretary of the interior finally to Congress, Congress reserving the right in itself to finally say whether those lands should be patented or not. Interested people went down into New Mexico in the ante-railroad days, bought all of the best so-called claims, had the surveyor-general approve them, submitted proper proofs, and the result was that they had them confirmed for vast principalities of land, bigger than it ever was intended they should have been.

The Maxwell land grant, embracing about three thousand square miles, furnishes one of the most glaring examples of the injustice of this order of things. Other grants, each having from half a million to upwards of a million of acres of land, some of which is highly valuable for agricultural purposes, some abounding in mineral or timber wealth, passed in this manner into the hands of corporations or associations of individuals. Titles were found to be so insecure that, until the adjustment of all grant claims by the United States Land Court, established in 1891, capital could not be induced to enter the Territory in any appreciable amount, aside from such capital as was invested in these grants.

New Mexico was frequently referred to in official Spanish documents as the "Kingdom of New Mexico," on account of the vastness of its territory, the variety of its topography and climate and the supposed richness of its natural resources. When it was surrendered to the United States by treaty the original province was still intact, except the portion east of the Rio Grande, which was claimed by the republic of Texas, which a few years before had attained its independence. It also included southern Colorado and nearly all of Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Nevada became a state in 1864, Colorado in 1876, and Utah in 1896.

By the Organic Act of 1850 the United States government offered to pay to Texas the sum of ten million dollars for a relinquishment of her claim, which offer that state accepted. In later years the point has been raised that if it could be successfully maintained that we derive the true title from Texas and not from Mexico, then the late Court of Private Land Claims was without jurisdiction to confirm or reject any private land claim within the immense tract conveyed to us by Texas for the jurisdiction of that court was expressly limited to territory which we had derived from Mexico.

Governor Armijo successfully withstood the Texas invasion and his exaggerated triumph was greeted in the City of Mexico by the ringing of bells and the salutes of artillery, and in reward he was vested with honors and, as he claimed, with almost dictatorial powers in the disposition of the public lands in his department. Santa Fe and Albuquerque were never occupied by a civilized enemy until our civil war. Nevertheless, Texas did exercise jurisdiction within the area of conflict. She made, for instance, a grant of the Salt Lakes to the southeast of Estancia Springs, and Congress recognized that grant and confirmed it, while the Land Court and the Supreme Court rejected the title to the same property which Governor Armijo had assumed to confer on the Prefect Antonio Sandoval. The Supreme Court of the United States held, in one case, that the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did not relate to property within the state of Texas. The republic of Texas had been recognized some time before by the United States, and by that act this government had conferred upon the people of Texas all the privileges which it was permitted by the constitution to grant. Texas, by an act passed December 19, 1836, defined the jurisdiction of that republic to extend to the territory bounded as follows: Beginning at the mouth of the Sabine river and running west along the Gulf of Mexico three leagues from land to the mouth of the Rio Grande, thence up the principal stream of said river to its source, thence due north to the forty-second degree of north latitude, thence along the boundary line as defined in the treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain to the beginning.

By this act that republic authorized and required the president of Texas to open a negotiation with the government of the United States of America, so soon as in his opinion the public interest might require it, to ascertain and define the boundary line as agreed upon in said treaty.

When Texas was admitted into the Union in 1845, there was no reservation as to the question of boundary except that regarding the true interpretation of the treaty with Spain. It was not until near the close of the Mexican war that complaint arose over the claim of Texas to the Rio Grande as her western boundary. When General Kearny became military governor of New Mexico, his jurisdiction extended into portions of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. The Kearny Code was operative throughout all this domain, excepting the region where the laws of Texas could prevail. With the passage of the organic act New Mexico was relieved of the claim of Texas. By the Gadsden purchase of 1853, the United States paid to Mexico fifteen million dollars for a great tract lying south of the middle line of the Gila River in Arizona and a gradually narrowing strip extending eastward in New Mexico to the Rio Grande, which was at once annexed to New Mexico.

Spain, and later Mexico, always assumed a beneficent attitude to the poor, declaring her mountains, woods and pastures to be free to the common use. It was this spirit which actuated the home government in making such a large number of land grants to individuals or associations of individuals or communities.

Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume I, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

©New Mexico American History and Genealogy Project 2011 - 2021
Created 1996 by Charles Barnum & 2016 by Judy White


New Mexico received its name long before the present-day nation of Mexico won independence from Spain and adopted that name in 1821. Though the name "Mexico" itself derives from Nahuatl, and in that language, it originally referred to the heartland of the Empire of the Mexicas (Aztec Empire) in the Valley of Mexico far from the area of New Mexico, Spanish explorers also used the term "Mexico" to name the region of New Mexico (Nuevo México in Spanish) in 1563. In 1581, the Chamuscado and Rodríguez Expedition named the region north of the Rio Grande "San Felipe del Nuevo México". [14] The Spaniards had hoped to find wealthy indigenous Mexica (Aztec) cultures there similar to those of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire of the Valley of Mexico. The indigenous cultures of New Mexico, however, proved to be unrelated to the Mexicas, and they were not wealthy, [15] [16] but the name persisted. Before statehood, the name "New Mexico" applied to various configurations of a former U.S. New Mexico Territory and, even before its former Mexican territorial status, a former provincial kingdom of New Spain called Nuevo México, all in the same general area, but of varying extensions. [17]

With a total area of 121,590 square miles (314,900 km 2 ), [1] New Mexico is the fifth-largest state. New Mexico's eastern border lies along 103°W longitude with the state of Oklahoma, and (due to a 19th-century surveying error) [18] 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometres) west of 103°W longitude with Texas. [19] On the southern border, Texas makes up the eastern two-thirds, while the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora make up the western third, with Chihuahua making up about 90% of that. The western border with Arizona runs along the 109° 03'W longitude. [20] The southwestern corner of the state is known as the Bootheel. The 37°N parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in New Mexico's northwestern corner. Its surface water area is about 292 square miles (760 km 2 ). [1]

The New Mexican landscape ranges from wide, auburn-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state, especially towards the north. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the southernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, run roughly north–south along the east side of the Rio Grande in the rugged, pastoral north. The most important of New Mexico's rivers are the Rio Grande, Pecos, Canadian, San Juan, and Gila. The Rio Grande is tied for the fourth-longest river in the United States. [21]

The U.S. government protects millions of acres of New Mexico as national forests, including: [22]

Areas managed by the National Park Service include: [23]

    at Aztec in Los Alamos near Capulin near Carlsbad at Nageezi in Grants in Ramah at Watrous near Silver City
  • Organ Mountains—Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces in Pecos near Albuquerque at Mountainair near Alamogordo near Taos in the Jemez Mountains

Areas managed by the New Mexico State Parks Division: [24]

Visitors also frequent the surviving native pueblos of New Mexico. Tourists visiting these sites bring significant money to the state. Other areas of geographical and scenic interest include Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument and the Gila Wilderness in the southwest of the state. [25]

Climate Edit

New Mexico's climate is generally semiarid to arid, though areas of continental and alpine climates exist, and its territory is mostly covered by mountains, high plains, and desert. The Great Plains (High Plains) are in eastern New Mexico, similar to the Colorado high plains in eastern Colorado. The two states share similar terrain, with both having plains, mountains, basins, mesas, and desert lands. New Mexico's statewide average precipitation is 12.9 inches (330 mm) a year, with average monthly amounts peaking in the summer, as at Albuquerque, and Las Cruces in the south. The average annual temperatures can range from 65 °F (18 °C) in the southeast to below 40 °F (4 °C) in the northern mountains. [20] During the summer, daytime temperatures can often exceed 100 °F (38 °C) at elevations below 5,000 feet (1,500 m), the average high temperature in July ranges from 99 °F (37 °C) at the lower elevations down to 78 °F (26 °C) at the higher elevations. In the colder months of November to March, many cities in New Mexico can have nighttime temperature lows in the teens above zero, or lower. The highest temperature recorded in New Mexico was 122 °F (50 °C) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Loving on June 27, 1994, and the lowest recorded temperature is −50 °F (−46 °C) at Gavilan (near Lindrith) on February 1, 1951. [26]

Flora and fauna Edit

New Mexico has five unique floristic zones, providing diverse sets of habitats for many plants and animals. The Llano Estacado (or Shortgrass Prairie) in the eastern part of the state is characterized by sod-forming short grasses such as blue grama, and it used to sustain bison. The Chihuahuan Desert extends through the south of the state and is characterized by shrubby creosote. The Colorado Plateau in the northwest corner of New Mexico is high desert with cold winters, and is characterized by sagebrush, shadescale, greasewood, and other plants adapted to the saline and seleniferous soil. The mountainous Mogollon Plateau in the west-central of the state and southern Rocky Mountains in the north-central, have a wide range in elevation (4,000 to 13,000 ft or 1,200 to 4,000 m), with vegetation types corresponding to elevation gradients, such as piñon-juniper woodlands near the base, through evergreen conifers, spruce-fir and aspen forests, Krummholz, and alpine tundra. The Apachian zone tucked into the southwestern bootheel of the state has high-calcium soil, oak woodlands, and Arizona cypress, and other plants that are not found in other parts of the state. [29] [30]

Environmental Issues Edit

In January 2016, New Mexico sued the United States Environmental Protection Agency over negligence after the 2015 Gold King Mine waste water spill. The spill had caused heavy metals such as cadmium and lead and toxins such as arsenic to flow into the Animas River, polluting water basins of several states [35]

Prehistory Edit

The first known inhabitants of New Mexico were members of the Clovis culture of Paleo-Indians. [36] : 19 Later inhabitants include American Indians of the Mogollon and Ancestral Pueblo peoples cultures. [37] : 52

Seven Cities of Cibola and Nuevo México Edit

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado assembled an enormous expedition at Compostela in 1540–1542 to explore and find the mythical Seven Golden Cities of Cibola as described by Fray Marcos de Niza. [37] : 19–24 The name New Mexico was first used by a seeker of gold mines named Francisco de Ibarra, who explored far to the north of New Spain in 1563 and reported his findings as being in "a New Mexico". [38] Juan de Oñate officially established the name when he was appointed the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico in 1598. [37] : 36–37 The same year, he founded the San Juan de los Caballeros capital at San Gabriel de Yungue-Ouinge, the first permanent European settlement in New Mexico, [39] on the Rio Grande near Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. [37] : 37 Oñate extended El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, Royal Road of the Interior, by 700 miles (1,100 km) from Santa Bárbara, Chihuahua, to his remote colony. [40] : 49

The settlement of La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís was established as a more permanent capital at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1610. [40] : 182 As a result of the Pueblo Revolt, the only successful revolt against European expansion by Native Americans, these early cities were occupied by the Puebloan peoples until the Spanish returned with an offer of better cultural and religious liberties for the Pueblos. [41] [42] [36] : 6,48 After the death of the Pueblo leader Popé, Diego de Vargas restored the area to Spanish rule. [37] : 68–75 The returning settlers founded La Villa de Alburquerque in 1706 at Old Town Albuquerque as a trading center for existing surrounding communities such as Barelas, Isleta, Los Ranchos, and Sandia, [37] : 84 naming it for the viceroy of New Spain, Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, 10th Duke of Alburquerque. [43]

As a part of New Spain, the claims for the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. [37] : 109 The Republic of Texas claimed the portion east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836 when it incorrectly assumed the older Hispanic settlements of the upper Rio Grande were the same as the newly established Mexican settlements of Texas. Texas's only attempt to establish a presence or control in the claimed territory was the failed Texan Santa Fe Expedition. Their entire army was captured and jailed by the Hispanic New Mexico militia.

At the turn of the 19th century, the extreme northeastern part of New Mexico, north of the Canadian River and east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was still claimed by France, which sold it in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. When the Louisiana Territory was admitted as a state in 1812, the U.S. reclassified it as part of the Missouri Territory. The region (along with territory that makes up present-day southeastern Colorado, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, and southwestern Kansas) was ceded to Spain under the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819.

By 1800, the population of New Mexico had reached 25,000. [44]

Territorial phase Edit

Following the victory of the United States in the Mexican–American War (1846–48), under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded its northern holdings including the territories of California, Texas, and New Mexico, to the United States of America. [37] : 132 The United States vowed to accept the residents' claims to their lands and to accept them as full citizens with rights of suffrage.

After Texas was admitted as a state to the Union, it continued to claim a northeastern portion of New Mexico. It was forced by the US government to drop these claims, in the Compromise of 1850, Texas ceded these claims to the United States of the area in New Mexico lying east of the Rio Grande, in exchange for $10 million from the federal government. [37] : 135

Congress established the separate New Mexico Territory in September 1850. [45] It included most of the present-day states of Arizona and New Mexico, along with the Las Vegas Valley and what would later become Clark County in Nevada.

In 1853, the United States acquired the mostly desert southwestern bootheel of the state and southern Arizona south of the Gila River in the Gadsden Purchase. It wanted to control lands needed for the right-of-way to encourage construction of a transcontinental railroad. [37] : 136

New Mexico played a role in the Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War. Both Confederate and Union governments claimed ownership and territorial rights over New Mexico Territory. In 1861, the Confederacy claimed the southern tract as its own Arizona Territory and waged the ambitious New Mexico Campaign in an attempt to control the American Southwest and open up access to Union California. Confederate power in the New Mexico Territory was effectively broken after the Battle of Glorieta Pass in 1862. However, the Confederate territorial government continued to operate out of Texas, and Confederate troops marched under the Arizona flag until the end of the war. Additionally, more than 8,000 men from New Mexico Territory served in the Union Army. [46]

During the American frontier, many of the folklore characters of the Western genre had their origins in New Mexico. Including the legend of historical figures, such as businesswoman Maria Gertrudis Barceló, outlaw Billy the Kid, as well as lawmen Pat Garrett and Elfego Baca.

In the late 19th century, the majority of officially European-descended residents in New Mexico were ethnic mestizos of Native Mexican and Native American (Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, Genízaro, and Comanche) ancestry, many of whom had deep roots in the area from early Spanish colonial times, this distinctly New Mexican ethnic group became referred to as the Hispanos of New Mexico. Politically, they still controlled most of the town and county offices through area elections, and wealthy sheepherder families commanded considerable influence, preferring business, legislative, and judicial relations with fellow indigenous New Mexican groups. The Anglo Americans (which included recent African American arrivals) tended to have more ties to the territorial governor and judges, who were appointed by officials outside of the region. The Anglo minority was "outnumbered, but well-organized and growing". [47] These newly arrived settlers often tried to maintain New Mexico as a territory, since the governor was being assigned by the President of the United States, and they were worried about Native and Hispano communities being in positions of power. This mob mentality would sometimes culminate in the lynching of the Native, Hispanic, and Mexican peoples, as was attempted at the Frisco shootout. Prominent people attempted to fight this prejudice, including Vigil, Garrett, Otero, Curry, Larrazolo, Baca, Hagerman, and major constituents from both major political parties, the Democratic Party of New Mexico and the Republican Party of New Mexico. [48] [49]

Statehood Edit

The United States Congress admitted New Mexico as the 47th state on January 6, 1912. [37] : 166 New Mexico was eligible for statehood 60 years earlier but was kept out of the union for more than a half-century because it had a majority "alien" (i.e. Mexican-American) population. [50]

European-American settlers in the state had an uneasy relationship with the large Native American tribes, most of whose members lived on reservations at the beginning of the 20th century. Although Congress passed a law in 1924 that granted all Native Americans U.S. citizenship, as well as the right to vote in federal and state elections, New Mexico was among several states with Jim Crow laws, e.g. those who do not pay taxes cannot vote. [51]

A major oil discovery in 1928 brought wealth to the state, especially Lea County and the town of Hobbs. The town was named after James Hobbs, a homesteader there in 1907. [52] The Midwest State No. 1 well, begun in late 1927 with a standard cable-tool drilling rig, revealed the first signs of oil from the Hobbs field on June 13, 1928. Drilled to 4,330 feet and completed a few months later, the well-produced 700 barrels of oil per day on state land. The Midwest Refining Company's Hobbs well-produced oil until 2002. The New Mexico Bureau of Mines and Mineral Resources called it "the most important single discovery of oil in New Mexico's history". [53]

During World War II, the first atomic bombs were designed and manufactured at Los Alamos, a site developed by the federal government specifically to support a high-intensity scientific effort to rapidly complete research and testing of this weapon. The first bomb was tested at Trinity site in the desert between Socorro and Alamogordo on what is now White Sands Missile Range. [37] : 179–180

Historical population
Census Pop.
186093,516 51.9%
187091,874 −1.8%
1880119,565 30.1%
1890160,282 34.1%
1900195,310 21.9%
1910327,301 67.6%
1920360,350 10.1%
1930423,317 17.5%
1940531,818 25.6%
1950681,187 28.1%
1960951,023 39.6%
19701,016,000 6.8%
19801,302,894 28.2%
19901,515,069 16.3%
20001,819,046 20.1%
20102,059,179 13.2%
20202,117,522 2.8%
Source: 1910–2020 [54]

Native Americans from New Mexico fought for the United States in both the First and Second World Wars. Veterans were disappointed to return and find their civil rights limited by state discrimination. In Arizona and New Mexico, veterans challenged state laws or practices prohibiting them from voting. In 1948, after veteran Miguel Trujillo, Sr. of Isleta Pueblo was told by the county registrar that he could not register to vote, he filed suit against the county in federal district court. A three-judge panel overturned as unconstitutional New Mexico's provisions that Indians who did not pay taxes (and could not document if they had paid taxes) could not vote. [51] Judge Phillips wrote:

Any other citizen, regardless of race, in the State of New Mexico who has not paid one cent of tax of any kind or character, if he possesses the other qualifications, may vote. An Indian, and only an Indian, in order to meet the qualifications to vote, must have paid a tax. How you can escape the conclusion that makes a requirement with respect to an Indian as a qualification to exercise the elective franchise and does not make that requirement with respect to the member of any race is beyond me. [51]

New Mexico has received large amounts of federal government spending on major military and research institutions in the state. It is home to three Air Force bases, White Sands Missile Range, and the federal research laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. The state's population grew rapidly after World War II, growing from 531,818 in 1940 to 1,819,046 in 2000. [55] Both residents and businesses moved to the state some northerners came at first for the mild winters others for retirement.

On May 22, 1957, a B-36 accidentally dropped a nuclear bomb 4.5 miles from the control tower while landing at Kirtland Air Force Base (only its conventional "trigger" detonated). [56] [57]

In the late 20th century, Native Americans were authorized by federal law to establish gaming casinos on their reservations under certain conditions, in states which had authorized such gaming. Such facilities have helped tribes close to population centers generate revenues for reinvestment in the economic development and welfare of their peoples.

In the 21st century, employment growth areas in New Mexico include electronic circuitry, scientific research, call centers, and Indian casinos. [58]

Population Edit

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of New Mexico was 2,096,829 on July 1, 2019, a 1.83% increase since the 2010 census. [59] The 2000 census recorded the population of New Mexico to be 1,819,046 ten years later it was 2,059,179—an 11.7% increase. [60]

Of the people residing in New Mexico 51.4% were born there 37.9% were born in another state 1.1% were born in Puerto Rico, U.S. Island areas, or abroad to American parent(s) and 9.7% were foreign born. [61]

As of May 1, 2010, 7.5% of New Mexico's population was reported as under 5 years of age, 25% under 18, and 13% were 65 or older. [62]

As of 2000, 8% of the residents of the state were foreign-born. [62]

Among U.S. states, New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanic ancestry, at 47% (as of July 1, 2012). This classification covers people of very different cultures and histories, including descendants of Spanish colonists with deep roots in the region, and recent immigrants from a variety of nations in Latin America, each with their own cultures.

According to the United States Census Bureau Model-based Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, the number of persons in poverty has increased to 400,779 (19.8% of the population) persons in 2010 from 2000. At that time, the estimated number of persons in poverty was recorded at 309,193 (17.3% of the population). The latest available data for 2014 estimate the number of persons in poverty at 420,388 (20.6% of the population). [60]

Birth data Edit

Note: Births in table do not add up, because Hispanics are counted both by their ethnicity and by their race, giving a higher overall number.

  • Since 2016, data for births of White Hispanic origin are not collected, but included in one Hispanic group persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Settlements Edit

Ancestry Edit

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 48% of the total 2015 population was Hispanic or Latino of any race, the highest of any state. The majority of Hispanics in New Mexico claim to be descendants of Spanish colonists who settled here during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. They speak New Mexican Spanish or English at home. [62]

The state also has a large Native American population, second in percentage behind that of Alaska. [62] [72] The 2018 racial composition of the population was estimated to be: [73]

  • 82.0% White American
  • 10.9% Native American and Alaska Native
  • 2.6% Black or African American
  • 1.8% Asian
  • 0.2% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander
  • 2.6% Two or more races

According to the United States Census Bureau, 1.5% of the population identifies as multiracial/mixed-race, a population larger than both the Asian and NHPI population groups. [62] In 2008, New Mexico had the highest percentage (47%) of Hispanics (of any race) of any state, [62] with 83% native-born and 17% foreign-born. [77]

According to the 2000 United States Census, [78] : 6 the most commonly claimed ancestry groups in New Mexico were:

Languages Edit

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 28.45% of the population age 5 and older speak Spanish at home, while 3.50% speak Navajo. [79] Some speakers of New Mexican Spanish are descendants of Spanish settlers who arrived in New Mexico in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. [80] While it is a common folk belief that New Mexican Spanish is an archaic form of 17th-century Castilian Spanish, and archaisms do exist, research reveals that traditional New Mexican Spanish "is neither more Iberian nor more archaic than other New World Spanishes". [81] [82]

Besides Navajo, which is also spoken in Arizona, a few other Native American languages are spoken by smaller groups in New Mexico, most of which are only spoken in the state. Native New Mexican languages include Mescalero Apache, Jicarilla Apache, Tewa, Southern Tiwa, Northern Tiwa, Towa, Keres (Eastern and Western), and Zuni. Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache are closely related Southern Athabaskan languages, and both are also related to Navajo. Tewa, the Tiwa languages, and Towa belong to the Kiowa-Tanoan language family, and thus all descend from a common ancestor. Keres and Zuni are language isolates, and have no relatives outside of New Mexico.

Official language Edit

The original state constitution of 1912 provided for a bilingual government with laws being published in both English and Spanish [83] this requirement was renewed twice, in 1931 and 1943. [84] Nonetheless, the constitution does not declare any language as "official". [85] While Spanish was permitted in the legislature until 1935, all state officials are required to have a good knowledge of English. Cobarrubias and Fishman, therefore, argue that New Mexico cannot be considered a bilingual state as not all laws are published in both languages. [84] Others, such as Juan Perea, claim that the state was officially bilingual until 1953. [86]

With regard to the judiciary, witnesses have the right to testify in either of the two languages, and monolingual speakers of Spanish have the same right to be considered for jury duty as do speakers of English. [85] [87] In public education, the state has the constitutional obligation to provide bilingual education and Spanish-speaking instructors in school districts where the majority of students are Hispanophone. [85]

In 1995, the state adopted an official bilingual song, "New Mexico – Mi Lindo Nuevo México". [88] : 75,81 In 1989, New Mexico became the first state to officially adopt the English Plus resolution, [89] and in 2008, the first to officially adopt a Navajo textbook for use in public schools. [90]

Religion Edit

According to Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), the largest denominations in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 684,941 the Southern Baptist Convention with 113,452 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with 67,637, and the United Methodist Church with 36,424 adherents. [92] According to a 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center, the most common self-reported religious affiliation of New Mexico residents are mentioned in reference. [ citation needed ]

Within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, New Mexico belongs to the Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe. New Mexico has three dioceses, one of which is an archdiocese: [93] Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Diocese of Gallup, Diocese of Las Cruces.

Oil and gas production, tourism, and federal government spending are important drivers of the state economy. [94] State government has an elaborate system of tax credits and technical assistance to promote job growth and business investment, especially in new technologies.

Economic indicators Edit

In 2010, New Mexico's gross domestic product was $80 billion, and an estimated $85 billion for 2013. [95] In 2007, the per capita personal income was $31,474 (ranked 43rd in the nation). [96] In 2005, the percentage of persons below the poverty level was 18.4%. [97] The New Mexico Tourism Department estimates that in Fiscal Year 2006, the travel industry in New Mexico generated expenditures of $6.5 billion. [98] As of April 2012 [update] , the state's unemployment rate was 7.2%. [99] During the late-2000s recession, New Mexico's unemployment rate peaked at 8.0% for the period June–October 2010. [100]

Oil and gas production Edit

New Mexico is the third-largest crude oil and ninth-largest natural gas producer in the United States. [101] The Permian and San Juan Basins, which are located partly in New Mexico, account for some of these natural resources. In 2000 the value of oil and gas produced was $8.2 billion, [102] and in 2006, New Mexico accounted for 3.4% of the crude oil, 8.5% of the dry natural gas, and 10.2% of the natural gas liquids produced in the United States. [103] However, the boom in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling beginning in the mid-2010s led to a large increase in the production of crude oil from the Permian Basin and other U.S. sources these developments allowed the United States to again become the world's largest producer of crude oil in 2018. [104] [105] [106] [107] New Mexico's oil and gas operations contribute to the state's above-average release of the greenhouse gas methane, including from a national methane hot spot in the Four Corners area. [108] [109] [110] [111]

Federal government Edit

Federal government spending is a major driver of the New Mexico economy. In 2005, the federal government spent $2.03 on New Mexico for every dollar of tax revenue collected from the state. This rate was higher than any other state in the Union. New Mexico is currently the second most dependent tax dollar state. [112]

Many of the federal jobs relate to the military the state hosts three air force bases (Kirtland Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, and Cannon Air Force Base) a testing range (White Sands Missile Range) and an army proving ground (Fort Bliss's McGregor Range). A May 2005 estimate by New Mexico State University is that 11.65% of the state's total employment arises directly or indirectly from military spending. [113] Other federal installations include the technology labs of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories.

Economic incentives Edit

New Mexico provides a number of economic incentives to businesses operating in the state, including various types of tax credits and tax exemptions. Most of the incentives are based on job creation. [114]

New Mexico law allows governments to provide land, buildings, and infrastructure to businesses to promote job creation. Several municipalities have imposed an Economic Development Gross Receipts Tax (a form of Municipal Infrastructure GRT) that is used to pay for these infrastructure improvements and for marketing their areas. [115]

The state provides financial incentives for film production. [116] [117] The New Mexico Film Office estimated at the end of 2007 that the incentive program had brought more than 85 film projects to the state since 2003 and had added $1.2 billion to the economy. [118]

Taxation Edit

Since 2008, personal income tax rates for New Mexico have ranged from 1.7% to 4.9%, within four income brackets. [119] As of 2007, active-duty military salaries are exempt from state income tax. [120] New Mexico is one of the largest tax havens in the US, offering numerous economic incentives and tax breaks on personal and corporate income. [121] [122] It does not have inheritance tax, estate tax, or sales taxes. [119] [123]

New Mexico imposes a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) on many transactions, which may even include some governmental receipts. This resembles a sales tax but, unlike the sales taxes in many states, it applies to services as well as tangible goods. Normally, the provider or seller passes the tax on to the purchaser, however legal incidence and burden apply to the business, as an excise tax. GRT is imposed by the state and there may be an additional locality component to produce a total tax rate. [124] As of July 1, 2013 the combined tax rate ranged from 5.125% to 8.6875%. [125]

Property tax is imposed on real property by the state, by counties, and by school districts. In general, personal-use personal property is not subject to property taxation. On the other hand, property tax is levied on most business-use personal property. The taxable value of property is 1/3 of the assessed value. A tax rate of about 30 mills is applied to the taxable value, resulting in an effective tax rate of about 1%. In the 2005 tax year, the average millage was about 26.47 for residential property, and 29.80 for non-residential property. Assessed values of residences cannot be increased by more than 3% per year unless the residence is remodeled or sold. Property tax deductions are available for military veterans and heads of household. [126]

New Mexico has long been an important corridor for trade and migration. The builders of the ruins at Chaco Canyon also created a radiating network of roads from the mysterious settlement. [127] Chaco Canyon's trade function shifted to Casas Grandes in the present-day Mexican state of Chihuahua, however, north–south trade continued. The pre-Columbian trade with Mesoamerican cultures included northbound exotic birds, seashells and copper. Turquoise, pottery, and salt were some of the goods transported south along the Rio Grande. Present-day New Mexico's pre-Columbian trade is especially remarkable for being undertaken on foot. The north–south trade route later became a path for colonists with horses arriving from New Spain as well as trade and communication. The route was called El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. [128]

The Santa Fe Trail was the 19th-century territory's vital commercial and military highway link to the Eastern United States. [129] All with termini in Northern New Mexico, the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the Old Spanish Trail are all recognized as National Historic Trails. New Mexico's latitude and low passes made it an attractive east–west transportation corridor. [130] As a territory, the Gadsden Purchase increased New Mexico's land area for the purpose of the constructing a southern transcontinental railroad, that of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Another transcontinental railroad was completed by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The railroads essentially replaced the earlier trails but brought on a population boom. Early transcontinental auto trails later crossed the state bringing more migrants. Railroads were later supplemented or replaced by a system of highways and airports. Today, New Mexico's Interstate Highways approximate the earlier land routes of the Camino Real, the Santa Fe Trail and the transcontinental railroads.

Interstate Highways Edit

New Mexico has only three Interstate Highways. In Albuquerque, I-25 and I-40 meet at a stack interchange called The Big I.

Interstate 10 travels in the southwest portion of New Mexico starting from the Arizona state line near Lordsburg to the area in between Las Cruces and Anthony, near El Paso, Texas.

Interstate 25 is a major north–south interstate highway starting from Las Cruces to the Colorado state line near Raton.

Interstate 40 is a major east–west interstate highway starting from the Arizona state line west of Gallup to the Texas state line east from Tucumcari.

U.S. Highways Edit

US 66, The Mother Road, was replaced by I-40 in 1985. US 85 is currently unsigned by the NMDOT, but the AASHTO still recognizes it. It runs in the same trace with I-10 and I-25. US 666, The Devils Highway, was replaced by US 491 in 2003 because the number "666" is the "Number of the Beast".

Road Edit

New Mexico has had a problem with drunk driving, but that has lessened. According to the Los Angeles Times, for years the state had the highest alcohol-related crash rates in the US, but ranked 25th in alcohol-related fatal crash rates, as of July 2009 [update] . [131]

New Mexico had 59,927 route miles of highway as of 2000 [update] , of which 7,037 receive federal aid. [132] In that same year there were 1,003 miles (1,614 km) of freeways, of which a thousand were the route miles of Interstate Highways 10, 25 and 40. [133] The former number has increased with the upgrading of roads near Pojoaque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces to freeways. The highway traffic fatality rate was 1.9 fatalities per million miles traveled in 2000, the 13th highest rate among U.S. states. [134] Notable bridges include the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos. As of 2001 [update] , 703 highway bridges, or one percent, were declared "structurally deficient" or "structurally obsolete". [135]

Rural and intercity public transportation by road is provided by Americanos USA, LLC, Greyhound Lines and several government operators.

Urban mass transit Edit

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is a commuter rail system serving the metropolitan area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It began operation on July 14, 2006. [136] The system runs from Belen to downtown Santa Fe. Larger cities in New Mexico typically have some form of public transportation by road ABQ RIDE is the largest such system in the state. [137]

Rail Edit

There were 2,354 route miles of railroads in the year 2000 this number increased with the opening of the Rail Runner's extension to Santa Fe. [138] In addition to local railroads and other tourist lines, the state jointly owns and operates a heritage narrow-gauge steam railroad, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway, with the state of Colorado. Narrow-gauge railroads once connected many communities in the northern part of the state, from Farmington to Santa Fe. [139] : 110 No fewer than 100 railroads of various names and lineage have operated in the jurisdiction at some point. [139] : 8 New Mexico's rail transportation system reached its height in terms of length following admission as a state in 1914 eleven railroads operated 3124 route miles. [139] : 10

Railroad surveyors arrived in New Mexico in the 1850s. [140] The first railroads incorporated in 1869. [139] : 9 The first operational railroad, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), entered the territory by way of the lucrative and contested Raton Pass in 1878. It eventually reached El Paso, Texas in 1881 and with the Southern Pacific Railroad created the nation's second transcontinental railroad with a junction at Deming. The Southern Pacific Railroad entered the territory from the Territory of Arizona in 1880. [139] : 9, 18, 58–59 [140] The Denver & Rio Grande Railway, who would generally use narrow gauge equipment in New Mexico, entered the territory from Colorado and began service to Española on December 31, 1880. [139] : 95–96 [140] These first railroads were built as long-distance corridors, later railroad construction also targeted resource extraction. [139] : 8–11

Freight Edit

New Mexico is served by two class I railroads, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. Combined, they operate 2,200 route miles of railway in the state. [138]

Passenger Edit

A commuter rail operation, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, connects the state's capital, its largest city, and other communities. [141] The privately operated state owned railroad began operations in July 2006. [136] The BNSF Railway's entire line from Belen to Raton, New Mexico was sold to the state, partially for the construction of phase II of this operation, which opened in December 2008. [142] Phase II of Rail Runner extended the line northward to Santa Fe from the Sandoval County station, the northernmost station under Phase I service. The service now connects Santa Fe, Sandoval, Bernalillo, and Valencia counties. The trains connect Albuquerque's population base and central business district to downtown Santa Fe with up to eight roundtrips in a day. The section of the line running south to Belen is served less frequently. [143] Rail Runner operates scheduled service seven days per week. [144]

With the rise of rail transportation many settlements grew or were founded and the territory became a tourist destination. As early as 1878, the ATSF promoted tourism in the region with emphasis on Native American imagery. [145] : 64 Named trains often reflected the territory they traveled: Super Chief, the streamlined successor to the Chief [145] Navajo, an early transcontinental tourist train and Cavern, a through car operation connecting Clovis and Carlsbad (by the early 1950s as train 23–24), [139] : 49–50 [146] : 51 were some of the named passenger trains of the ATSF that connoted New Mexico.

Passenger train service once connected nine of New Mexico's present ten most populous cities (the exception is Rio Rancho), while today passenger train service connects two: Albuquerque and Santa Fe. [141] With the decline of most intercity rail service in the United States in the late 1960s, New Mexico was left with minimal services. No less than six daily long-distance roundtrip trains supplemented by many branch line and local trains served New Mexico in the early 1960s. Declines in passenger revenue, but not necessarily ridership, prompted many railroads to turn over their passenger services in truncated form to Amtrak, a state owned enterprise. Amtrak, also known as the National Passenger Railroad Corporation, began operating the two extant long-distance routes in May 1971. [139] [145] [146] Resurrection of passenger rail service from Denver to El Paso, a route once plied in part by the ATSF's El Pasoan, [146] : 37 has been proposed over the years. As early as the 1980s, former Governor Toney Anaya proposed building a high-speed rail line connecting the two cities with New Mexico's major cities. [147] Front Range Commuter Rail is a project to connect Wyoming and New Mexico with high-speed rail. [148]

Amtrak's Southwest Chief passes through daily at stations in Gallup, Albuquerque, Lamy, Las Vegas, and Raton, offering connections to Los Angeles, Chicago and intermediate points. [149] The Southwest Chief is a fast Amtrak long-distance train, being permitted a maximum speed of 90 mph (140 km/h) in various places on the tracks of the BNSF Railway. [150] It also operates on New Mexico Rail Runner Express trackage. The Southwest Chief is the successor to the Super Chief and El Capitan. [146] : 115 The streamliner Super Chief, a favorite of early Hollywood stars, was one of the most famous named trains in the United States and one of the most esteemed for its luxury and exoticness—train cars were named for regional Native American tribes and outfitted with the artwork of many local artists—but also for its speed: as few as 39 hours 45 minutes westbound. [145]

The Sunset Limited makes stops three times a week in both directions at Lordsburg, and Deming, serving Los Angeles, New Orleans and intermediate points. [151] The Sunset Limited is the successor to the Southern Pacific Railroad's train of the same name and operates exclusively on Union Pacific trackage in New Mexico.

Aerospace Edit

The Albuquerque International Sunport is the state's primary port of entry for air transportation.

Upham, near Truth or Consequences, is the location of the world's first operational and purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America. [152] [153] [154] Rocket launches began in April 2007. [154] It is undeveloped and has one tenant, UP Aerospace, launching small payloads. [155] Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company, plans to make this their primary operating base. [153] [156]

Government Edit

The Constitution of New Mexico established New Mexico's governmental structure. The executive branch of government is fragmented as outlined in the state constitution. The executive is composed of the governor and other statewide elected officials including the lieutenant governor (elected on the same ticket as the governor), attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and commissioner of public lands. The governor appoints a cabinet who lead agencies statutorily designated under their jurisdiction. The New Mexico Legislature consists of the House of Representatives and Senate. The judiciary is composed of the New Mexico Supreme Court and lower courts. There is also local government, consisting of counties, municipalities and special districts. [157]

Politics Edit

Current Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales (D) were first elected in 2018. Terms for both the governor and lieutenant governor expire in January 2023. Governors serve a term of four years, and may seek re-election for one additional term (limit of two terms). Other constitutional officers, all of whose terms also expire in January 2023, include Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D), [158] Attorney General Hector Balderas (D), [159] State Auditor Brian Colón (D), [160] State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard (D), [161] and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg (D). [162]

Party registration as of February 2021 [163]
Party Number of voters Percentage
Democratic 610,865 44.92%
Republican 424,594 31.22%
Independent 296,706 21.82%
Other 14,879 1.09%
Libertarian 12,886 0.95%
Total 1,369,930 100%

Currently, both chambers of the New Mexico State Legislature have Democratic majorities. There are 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans in the Senate, and 47 Democrats and 23 Republicans in the House of Representatives.

New Mexico's members of the United States Senate are Democrats Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján. The state's three United States House of Representatives members are Democrat Melanie Stansbury, Republican Yvette Herrell, and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez representing the first, second, and third districts respectively.

New Mexico has traditionally been considered a swing state, whose population has favored both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, but it has become more of a Democratic stronghold beginning with the presidential election of 2008. The governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who succeeded Susana Martinez (R) on January 1, 2019, after she served two terms as governor from 2011 to 2019. Gary Johnson served as governor from 1995 to 2003. Johnson served as a Republican, but in 2012 and 2016, he ran for president from the Libertarian Party. In previous presidential elections, Al Gore carried the state (by 366 votes) in 2000 George W. Bush won New Mexico's five electoral votes in 2004, and the state's electoral votes were won by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Since achieving statehood in 1912, New Mexico has been carried by the national popular vote victor in every presidential election of the past 104 years, except 1976, when Gerald Ford won the state by 2%, but lost the national popular vote by 2%. [164] It has also awarded its electoral votes to the candidate who would ultimately win, with the exception of 1976, 2000, and 2016.

Democrats in the state are usually strongest in the Santa Fe area, parts of the Albuquerque metro area (such as the southeast and central areas, including the affluent Nob Hill neighborhood and the vicinity of the University of New Mexico), Northern and West Central New Mexico, and most of the Native American reservations, particularly the Navajo Nation. Republicans have traditionally had their strongholds in the eastern and southern parts of the state, the Farmington area, Rio Rancho, and the newly developed areas in the Northwest mesa. Albuquerque's Northeast Heights have historically leaned Republican, but have become a key swing area for Democrats in recent election cycles. While registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 200,000, New Mexico voters have favored moderate to conservative candidates of both parties at the state and federal levels.

New Mexico abolished its death penalty statute, though not retroactively, effective July 1, 2009. This means individuals on New Mexico's Death Row can still be executed. On March 18, 2009, then-Governor Bill Richardson signed the law abolishing the death penalty in New Mexico following the assembly and senate vote the week before, thus becoming the 15th U.S. state to abolish the penalty. [165]

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2020 43.50% 401,894 54.29% 501,614
2016 40.04% 319,667 48.25% 385,232
2012 42.84% 335,788 52.99% 415,335
2008 41.78% 346,832 56.91% 472,422
2004 49.8% 376,930 49.1% 370,942
2000 47.85% 286,417 47.91% 286,783
1996 42% 232,751 49% 273,495
1992 37% 212,617 46% 261,617
1988 51% 270,341 46% 244,49
1984 59% 307,101 39% 201,769
1980 55% 250,779 36% 167,826
1976 50% 211,419 48% 201,148
1972 60% 235,606 36% 141,084

On gun control, New Mexico arguably has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the country. State law pre-empts all local gun control ordinances. New Mexico residents may purchase any firearm deemed legal under federal law. There are no waiting periods under state law for picking up a firearm after it has been purchased, and there are no restrictions on magazine capacity. Additionally, New Mexico is a "shall-issue" state for concealed carry permits.

Before December 2013, New Mexico law neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited same-sex marriage. Policy concerning the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was determined at the county level that is, some county clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples while others did not. In December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling directing all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, thereby making New Mexico the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriage at the statewide level.

Due to its relatively low population, in combination with numerous federally funded research facilities, New Mexico had the highest concentration of PhD holders of any state in 2000. [166] Despite this, the state routinely ranks near the bottom in surveys of the quality of primary and secondary school education. [167] In a landmark decision, a state judge ruled in 2018 that "New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with sufficient education," [168] and ordered that the governor and Legislature provide an adequate system by April 2019. [168] [169]

New Mexico has a higher concentration of persons who do not finish high school or have some college without a degree than the nation as a whole. For the state, 23.9% of people over 25 have gone to college but not earned a degree. [60] This is compared with 21.0% of the nation as a whole according to United States Census Bureau 2014 American Community Survey estimates. [170] Los Alamos County has the highest number percent of post secondary degree holders of any county in New Mexico with 38.7% of the population (4,899 persons) estimated by the 2010–2014 American Community Survey. [171]

Primary and secondary education Edit

The New Mexico Public Education Department oversees the operation of primary and secondary schools individual school districts directly operate and staff said schools.

Postsecondary education Edit

Lottery scholarship Edit

New Mexico is one of eight states that fund college scholarships through the state lottery. [172] [173] [174] The state of New Mexico requires that the lottery put 30% of its gross sales into the scholarship fund. [175] The scholarship is available to residents who graduated from a state high school, and attend a state university full-time while maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher. [176] It covered 100% of tuition when it was first instated in 1996, [177] decreased to 90%, then dropped to 60% in 2017. [173] The value slightly increased in 2018, and new legislation was passed to outline what funds are available per type of institution. [177]

Major research universities Edit

Regional state universities Edit

Zimmerman Library at The University of New Mexico

Zuhl Library at New Mexico State University

Walkway outside Golden Library at Eastern New Mexico University

Donnelly Library at New Mexico Highlands University

With a Native American population of 134,000 in 1990, [178] New Mexico ranks as an important center of Native American culture. Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres (6,500,000 ha), mostly in neighboring Arizona, the reservation of the Navajo Nation ranks as the largest in the United States. The prehistorically agricultural Pueblo Indians live in pueblos scattered throughout the state. Almost half of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin many are descendants of colonial settlers called Hispanos or Neomexicanos. They settled in the state's northern portion. Most of the Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state. Also, 10–15% of the population, mainly in the north, may contain Hispanic Jewish ancestry. [ citation needed ]

Many New Mexicans speak a unique dialect of Spanish. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language, some of the vocabulary of New Mexican Spanish is unknown to other Spanish speakers. It uses numerous Native American words for local features and includes anglicized words that express American concepts and modern inventions.

Art and literature Edit

The earliest New Mexico artists whose work survives today are the Mimbres Indians, whose black and white pottery could be mistaken for modern art, except for the fact that it was produced before 1130 CE. See Mimbres culture. Many examples of this work can be seen at the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum [179] and at the Western New Mexico University Museum. [180]

A large artistic community thrives in Santa Fe, and has included such people as Bruce Nauman, Richard Tuttle, John Connell and Steina Vasulka. The capital city has several art museums, including the New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Museum of International Folk Art, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, SITE Santa Fe and others. Colonies for artists and writers thrive, and the small city teems with art galleries. In August, the city hosts the annual Santa Fe Indian Market, which is the oldest and largest juried Native American art showcase in the world. Performing arts include the renowned Santa Fe Opera which presents five operas in repertory each July to August, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival held each summer, and the restored Lensic Theater a principal venue for many kinds of performances. Santa Fe is also home to Frogville Records, an indie record label. The weekend after Labor Day boasts the burning of Zozobra, a fifty-foot (15 m) marionette, during Fiestas de Santa Fe.

Art is also a frequent theme in Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. The National Hispanic Cultural Center has held hundreds of performing arts events, art showcases, and other events related to Spanish culture in New Mexico and worldwide in the centerpiece Roy E Disney Center for the Performing Arts or in other venues at the 53-acre facility. New Mexico residents and visitors alike can enjoy performing art from around the world at Popejoy Hall on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Popejoy Hall hosts singers, dancers, Broadway shows, other types of acts, and Shakespeare. [181] Albuquerque also has the unique and memorable KiMo Theater built in 1927 in the Pueblo Revival Style architecture. The KiMo presents live theater and concerts as well as movies and simulcast operas. [182] In addition to other general interest theaters, Albuquerque also has the African American Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall which showcases achievements by people of African descent [183] and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center which highlights the cultural heritage of the First Nations people of New Mexico. [184]

New Mexico holds strong to its Spanish heritage. Old Spanish traditions such zarzuelas and flamenco are popular in New Mexico. [185] [186] Flamenco dancer and native New Mexican María Benítez founded the Maria Benítez Institute for Spanish Arts "to present programs of the highest quality of the rich artistic heritage of Spain, as expressed through music, dance, visual arts, and other art forms". There is also the Festival Flamenco Internacional de Alburquerque held each year in which native Spanish and New Mexican flamenco dancers perform at the University of New Mexico.

In the mid-20th century, there was a thriving Hispano school of literature and scholarship being produced in both English and Spanish. Among the more notable authors were: Angélico Chávez, Nina Otero-Warren, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Aurelio Espinosa, Cleofas Jaramillo, Juan Bautista Rael, and Aurora Lucero-White Lea. As well, writer D. H. Lawrence lived near Taos in the 1920s, at the D. H. Lawrence Ranch, where there is a shrine said to contain his ashes.

New Mexico's strong Spanish, Native American, and Wild West frontier motifs have provided material for many authors in the state, including internationally recognized Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman. [187]

Silver City, in the southwestern mountains of the state, was originally a mining town, and at least one nearby mine still operates. It is perhaps better known now as the home of or exhibition center for large numbers of artists, visual and otherwise. [188] Another former mining town turned art haven is Madrid, New Mexico. [189] It was brought to national fame as the filming location for the movie Wild Hogs in 2007. The City of Las Cruces, in southern New Mexico, has a museum system affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program. [190] Las Cruces also has a variety of cultural and artistic opportunities for residents and visitors. [191]

Aside from the aforementioned Wild Hogs, other movies filmed in New Mexico include Sunshine Cleaning and Vampires.

The various seasons of the A&E/Netflix series Longmire have been filmed in several New Mexico locations, including Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Eagle Nest, and Red River. [192]

The widely acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul were both set and filmed in and around Albuquerque. [193]

Sports Edit

No major league professional sports teams are based in New Mexico, but the Albuquerque Isotopes are the Triple-A West baseball affiliate of the MLB Colorado Rockies. New Mexico is home to several baseball teams of the Pecos League: the Roswell Invaders, Ruidoso Osos, Santa Fe Fuego and the White Sands Pupfish. The Duke City Gladiators of the Indoor Football League (IFL) plays their home games at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. New Mexico United, also based in Albuquerque, began play in the second tier of the American soccer pyramid, the USL Championship, in 2019. Another soccer team from that city, Albuquerque Sol FC, plays in the fourth-tier USL League Two.

Collegiate athletics in New Mexico involve various New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies teams in many sports. For many years the two universities have had a rivalry often referred to as the "Rio Grande Rivalry" or the "Battle of I-25" in recognition of the campuses' both being located along that highway. NMSU also has a rivalry with the University of Texas at El Paso which is called "The Battle of I-10". The winner of the NMSU-UTEP football game receives the Silver Spade trophy.

Olympic gold medalist Tom Jager, who is an advocate of controversial high-altitude training for swimming, has conducted training camps in Albuquerque at 5,312 feet (1,619 m) and Los Alamos at 7,320 feet (2,231 m). [194]

NRA Whittington Center in Raton is the United States' largest and most comprehensive competitive shooting range and training facility. [195]

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  • Simmons, Marc. New Mexico: An Interpretive History, University of New Mexico Press 1988, 0-8263-1110-5, 221 pp, good introduction
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  • Trujillo, Michael L. Land of Disenchantment: Latina/o Identities and Transformations in Northern New Mexico (2010) 265 pp an experimental ethnography that contrasts life in the Espanola Valley with the state's commercial image as the "land of enchantment".
  • Weber David J. Foreigners in Their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans (1973), primary sources to 1912

Primary sources Edit

  • Ellis, Richard, ed. New Mexico Past and Present: A Historical Reader. 1971. primary sources , The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other Indian Country Affairs, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1973, trade paperback, 147 pages, ( 0-8263-0530-X), fiction
  • Definitions from Wiktionary
  • Media from Wikimedia Commons
  • News from Wikinews
  • Texts from Wikisource
  • Travel guide from Wikivoyage

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New Mexico’s Reviled Heroic Padre

History is written by the victors. Great heroes can be lost and have even their purest motives denigrated. To make themselves appear great, the triumphant often choose to magnify the villainy of the defeated. In the mid- 1800s Padre Antonio José Martínez held power difficult to imagine today. This made him a target for Anglo leaders and French clergymen. They described him as clutching for power and implied he was immoral. French-born Jean-Baptiste Salpointe, bishop of Arizona and archbishop of Santa Fe, largely omitted Padre Martínez from his 1898 history of the Catholic Church in New Mexico despite the fact the padre had established the region’s first school for both genders, printed its first books, educated the first native priests and bridged a period when New Mexico was almost completely without priests. To understand Martínez, we must comprehend his time and place and what he was defending. In this light his motives appear more pure.

We picture New Mexico, when Brig. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny’s army arrived in 1846, as a priest-ridden land full of fat friars who took their ease at the gambling halls and bordellos of Santa Fe. The parish priest of the Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís may have taken his ease in this manner, despite being an old man. The priest of a neighboring town might even have joined him on occasion. But there were no friars in New Mexico in 1846, fat or otherwise, and few priests. Controlling religious observances was the mysterious and secretive brotherhood of Penitentes (“Penitents”), a lay organization proscribed by the Catholic Church for its excesses. During Holy Week the brothers whipped and otherwise tortured themselves in public. Others dragged a cart full of heavy stones atop which sat the skeletal figure of Doña Sebastiana, representing death, bearing her bow and arrow. The cart’s ungreased axle and wheels squealed and skidded over the road to shrill tunes played on the pito, a small flute. In the final ritual a brother depicting Christ was roped to a cross, hoisted aloft and left to suffer, sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.

The ecclesiastical power shift began centuries before when the Spanish crown gave New Mexico to the Franciscans as a mission field, paying for the friars’ upkeep from the royal treasury. At first there were no secular priests (those not associated with a monastic order), only the missionaries who sought out the Pueblo Indians in their villages. Only much later, in 1797, did New Mexico become part of a secular diocese, with parish priests at Albuquerque, El Paso del Norte, Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Cañada. Through 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain, these secular priesthoods were seldom filled, and the Franciscans also found it difficult to find friars for the northern frontier. New Mexico became a land with few priests and was soon to have even fewer.

A lay brotherhood of obscure origins, la Santa Hermandad (“the Holy Brotherhood”) has gone by many names. Anglos called them the Penitentes due to their penitent rites of self-abuse. Franciscans disavow the group, which has often been confused with the Franciscans’ lay Third Order, whose brothers practiced a private and gentler form of self-flagellation. When the Hermandad first came under public scrutiny in the early 19th century, it was already old, perhaps as old as the conquest, and widespread. Its rituals closely resemble the Holy Week observances of a society in Seville, Spain, but the route of transmission is unknown. This secret society of mutual aid and assistance is similar to the Freemasons, binding society together beyond family and across class lines. In the absence of priests, the brotherhood thrived in New Mexico as a source of succor and religious observance.

But the Hermandad had a dark side. Members of this secret society appeared hooded in public processions as they whipped themselves until blood ran. Onlookers likely wondered what such self-abusing fanatics might do to outsiders. While they punished brothers severely for minor infractions against other brothers, they overlooked major crimes—even murder—when the victim was an outsider.

As populations grew, the Catholic Church created additional parishes at Taos, Abiquiú, San Miguel and Tomé, but the priesthoods often remained unfilled rarely were there more than two secular priests in all of New Mexico. In this was a mercy for the poor of New Mexico. As the crown was paying the Franciscans’ expenses, there was no mandatory tithe. Thus New Mexicans had grown accustomed to forgoing the tithe. In the absence of that income, secular priests charged parishioners high “stole fees,” payments for ceremonies like baptism, marriage and last rites. But people soon found ways to avoid even these. A baby who might soon die, they reasoned, didn’t really require baptism, and a formal wedding was an extravagance instead they would save for the truly necessary— last rites. Then, in 1828, the Mexican government, mistrusting the predominately Spanish monks, drove out the Franciscans, leaving New Mexico with only two priests. In this vacuum of religious leadership, the self-supporting Penitentes flourished.

Representing the Catholic Church were a priest in Santa Fe and Padre Antonio José Martínez in Taos. In 1833 the departing Franciscans appointed Padre Martínez to watch over their lay brotherhood, Terciarios de Penitencia (“Third Order of Penance” the first two orders were of friars and nuns). At the time the Terciarios were in disarray, while the Penitentes were growing in political influence. Padre Martínez, perhaps unable to distinguish between the two lay brotherhoods with oddly similar names, seems to have taken charge of the dominant Penitentes.

The Penitentes are associated with the Santuario de Chimayó, about 25 miles north of Santa Fe. Its founder brought a peculiar belief system, the cult of Our Lord of Esquipulas, from Guatemala, which included the unusual practice of geophagy—eating clay (considered by pilgrims tierra bendita, or “blessed earth”). A leader of the local Penitente group built the chapel sometime before 1810. The Hermandad was already coming to prominence, and its symbols appear prominently on the altar screen. The santuario became a pilgrimage site and is known today as the “Lourdes of America.” At Easter the Penitentes come to practice their Holy Week rites, and pilgrims walk all night from distant towns to hear Mass. Many leave behind their crutches, having seemingly been healed. Others take home dabs of clay from an opening in the floor of a room just off the sanctuary. They mix it with food or sprinkle it on window and doorsills to ward off brujos (“witches”). This religion of the Río Arriba (the region north of Santa Fe) is unique in North America.

Such beliefs had a powerful hold in early New Mexico. In the 18th and early 19th centuries education was the purview of a few ricos, the rich, who could afford to bring tutors into their homes. Elsewhere priests often taught at village schools, but New Mexico lacked priests. There were no printing presses and no newspapers, as there were few who could read them.

Antonio José Martínez was born at Abiquiú in 1793 to one of the wealthiest families in the Río Arriba. His family soon moved to Taos. Young Martínez married in 1812, but his wife soon died, leaving him a baby daughter. In 1818, the child installed with family, he entered seminary in Durango, Mexico, seeking a secular priesthood. He was present for the excitement and hope of the Mexican War of Independence while maintaining a good academic record. Mexican leaders framed a new constitution that incorporated ideas from the Norte Americano experience. Soon after Martínez returned home an ordained priest in 1823, his daughter died. The padre immersed himself in his work and within a year held the parish of Don Fernando de Taos. There he preached the ideals of freedom and castigated the gringo mountain men who finagled Mexican land grants—in competition with his family interests—and who provided the area’s nomadic Indians with guns, powder and intoxicating Taos “lightning.” Chief among such interlopers were Charles and William Bent, who in partnership with fur trader Ceran St. Vrain ran Bent’s Fort and other interests.

The Río Arriba was not the Río Abajo, the land south of Santa Fe, realm of haciendados ricos and their debt-slave peones. The men of the north were free, if poor. They possessed their own lands, plowed the earth with forked tree limbs and shared water, wood lots and grazing commons. Water and commons governed their lives and their natures. In such circumstances one who does well must be stealing from his neighbors, and only a brujo would do that. By politicking among his neighbors a man might win respect and honor, but there were great disincentives to advancement in agriculture or business. The land was cut off from trade, being farther from Mexico City than from St. Louis. Mexican tariffs were high, and the people were metal poor, denied tools and discouraged from manufacturing by a system geared to support only manufacturers from Spain or, later, from the Valley of Mexico. The elevation was high, and the growing season short. In the early 19th century there were few Hispanic towns—Santa Fe, Santa Cruz de la Cañada, Chimayo and Don Fernando de Taos. Most of the remaining towns were Indian Pueblos—Taos, Picuris, Santa Cruz, San Juan, Pojoaque, Nambé, San Ildefanso and others. Abiquiú, Las Trampas and Truchas were genízaro towns. Genízaros were nomadic Indians, captured and held as slaves. Their Spanish masters baptized them and gave them religious instruction, then provided them land grants on the periphery of the settlements, which they were expected to farm and defend. The people of the Río Arriba lived their lives in great isolation from the outside world.

Padre Martínez arrived like a thunderbolt. In 1826 he opened the first enduring school, accepting students of either gender. In 1834 he acquired and operated New Mexico’s first printing press, using it to create books for his school. (As the only press in the region it continued to turn out books and government documents, including the 1846 Territorial Constitution.) Martínez also taught preparatory seminary classes. By 1852, when Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy arrived to organize the first diocese of New Mexico, 18 of its 22 priests were former students of Padre Martínez.

In 1832, in the first visit to New Mexico by a bishop in more than seven decades, Bishop José Antonio Zubiría of Durango visited his far-flung diocese and was shocked by what he found. The iconic carvings of local santeros (“saint makers”) offended him, as did the retablos (devotional paintings) of local manufacture. Recognized today as works of art, they were too crudely fashioned to please the bishop, and he ordered them removed from the churches. Even more shocked by the rites of the Penitentes, he promptly proscribed the brotherhood. With the bishop safely returned to faraway Durango, Padre Martínez chose to ignore his orders and support local art and customs.

Then came political upheaval, in 1835, when President Antonio López de Santa Anna suspended the Mexican Constitution of 1824 and replaced it with the Siete Leyes (“Seven Laws”), seeking to strengthen the central government. His action would lead to rebellion in Texas, New Mexico and California. Under the new measures New Mexico became a department governed from Mexico City rather than a self-governing territory. It was rumored high taxes were to follow. The appointed governor, Albino Pérez, was subject to excesses of living and spending, calling forth the militia at its own expense and refusing to repay loans he took from Santa Fe merchants. Padre Martínez spoke against these abuses from the pulpit, and when the people of the Río Arriba rose in revolt in 1837—literally tearing Governor Pérez limb from limb—officials suspected the outspoken priest was behind the revolt. There is no evidence Martínez was anything but shocked by the violence, and he joined General Manuel Armijo, soon to be governor, in its suppression.

Ten years later Padre Martínez was again suspected of instigating revolt, after speaking out against the excesses of the Anglos. The mountain men led outrageous lives and defiled willing Mexican women. Through connivance and bribes Anglos cornered vast land grants that were in direct competition with the Martínez family. Worst of all the villains—the Bents and St. Vrain in particular—sold guns and liquor to the wild Indians who stole from the Mexicans and often killed them for tradable goods. In 1847 rebelling Pueblo Indians at Taos killed, scalped and mutilated the first American governor of New Mexico Territory—none other than Charles Bent. Once again, Padre Martínez played no part in the bloody revolt. On the contrary, at great personal risk he hid Anglos in his home. Regardless, Kit Carson, whom the padre had joined in matrimony to local girl Josefa Jaramillo, never forgave Martínez for the murder of his friend and brother-in-law, Bent. Abandoning the Catholic Church he had joined in order to marry Josefa in 1843, Kit in 1854 sought religious solace by becoming a Freemason.

Padre Martínez’s love of the U.S. Constitution is well known, though his understanding of it was both novel and eccentric. In 1846, after the American invasion, the padre told his seminary students that as the government had changed, they must change their ideas, as the genius of this American government traveled in complete harmony with freedom of worship and separation of church and state. A student asked what form this new government took, and he replied, “Republican. You can say that in comparison the American government is like a burro, but on this burro ride the lawyers and not the clergy.” Padre Martínez saw no conflict in a priest speaking out from the pulpit on political matters. To him “freedom of religion” meant in part that the government was free to protect the people from the church. He served in both Mexican and American legislatures and still found time for his own parish and school. From a position in the new American legislature, Padre Martínez was among the first native New Mexicans to agitate for statehood.

That the padre and the new bishop, Jean-Baptiste Lamy, should clash was inevitable. New Mexico Territory, severed from Durango, was made a diocese within an American archdiocese, with French-born Lamy sent out as bishop. When Lamy arrived in Santa Fe in 1852, the priest was at the height of his power. He enjoyed vast influence among the widespread Penitentes, who had long slipped from church oversight and control. Most of the secular priests, the first native clergy in New Mexico, were his former students. At the same time the bishop’s lack of empathy for local customs was astounding his basilica and the chapel of the Sisters of Loretto were built in the French style.

As the 1850s progressed, the conflict intensified. Vicar General Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, serving as the bishop’s hammer, circulated to the outlying churches, finding immorality and improper handling of church funds everywhere except in Taos. He relieved most of the native clergy, replacing them with mostly French priests. Machebeuf ordered that all church funds should come first to Santa Fe, from which priestly stipends would then be dispensed. The vicar’s inordinate focus on money shows in his efforts to have himself appointed executor of the Francis X. Aubry (aka “Skimmer of the Plains”) estate and in his actions in that portion of New Mexico coming to be called Arizona. Charles Poston, cofounder of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Co. in Tubac, had been conducting marriages at no charge for his Mexican workers under the authority of a civil appointment. Machebeuf nullified all of those marriages during his visit in 1859, though he soon settled the matter and blessed the marriages in a gala that cost Poston some $700. James Tevis, stationkeeper for the Butterfield Overland Mail, once claimed Machebeuf showed him the silver altar service he had taken from the Indians at San Xavier del Bac, implying he’d put one over on them. One might normally doubt Tevis, a notorious teller of tall tales, but this anecdote fits a pattern, and in 1860 Padre Martínez accused Machebeuf of selling church silver. Martínez also accused Vicar Machebeuf of betraying the secrets of the confessional from the pulpit, a very serious charge. Lamy managed to mediate that particular episode.

In 1852 Bishop Lamy reduced the stole fees by half, claiming they had been set far too high. Only later did he learn that New Mexicans had never tithed. Putting his foot down, the bishop insisted in his Christmas letter of January 14, 1854, that parishioners must tithe before priests could administer the sacraments. Padre Martínez retorted that were the bishop successful in collecting the tithe, his treasury would soon greatly exceed that of the territorial government. The cathedral in Santa Fe stands as evidence of Lamy’s success. When stole fees were the only fees collected and tithing was voluntary, the prohibitively high fees still left priests quite poor. In following years Padre Martínez consistently spoke out in published letters and tracts against the compulsory tithe. In 1860 he publicly denounced the practice as “true simony,” a serious religious crime.

By then Bishop Lamy had excommunicated “this unhappy priest,” Padre Antonio José Martínez. The censure came sometime between 1857 and 1860, though the date is uncertain, as the record was kept not in Santa Fe but concealed in the record of baptisms at Taos in a comment written by the bishop. Padre Martínez questioned the validity of the excommunication, which Lamy had put through without admonition, formal charges or a hearing. Indeed, the underhanded manner in which it was handled makes it likely the reading of the order was not done with public fanfare, as claimed years later. Anglos and French residents reportedly stood with Vicar Machebeuf against a potential rising of the locals who adored Padre Martínez. The former were described in church records as “good Catholics,” though among those listed were Kit Carson and Ceran St. Vrain, who were Freemasons. There is no contemporary record of the vicar’s visit, and there was no rising. The charges against Padre Martínez would not usually have been considered grounds for excommunication he stood accused of having conducted a baptism at the oratory in his home, as the church was not available to him. And, of course, he had failed to first collect the tithe.

Despite the rift with Bishop Lamy, Padre Martínez continued to minister to the poor and close friends until the end of his life in 1867. Although this created a schism of sorts in the church at Taos, the padre never sought to teach a new doctrine. He simply felt the bishop had acted improperly. Although he did not resist the Protestant missionaries who came to the Río Arriba, he never strayed from the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.

A leader of the church and legislature, at the forefront of printing and education, a defender of New Mexicans’ rights and native culture, Padre Antonio José Martínez is all but forgotten. Immersed in a tradition few outsiders understood, the priest was reviled by Kit Carson, Ceran St. Vrain, Bishop Lamy and others for defending the common people of the north. He surfaces as the villain in Willa Cather’s 1927 novel Death Comes for the Archbishop, while his antagonist Lamy—a man who unwittingly trod on his parishioners and built a cathedral on their backs—is held up as a saint. In a land where education was almost unknown, Padre Martínez’s wisdom and expertise in canon law was renowned. Despite his dour demeanor and vociferous opposition to those who would exploit his people, he taught religious tolerance and constitutional principles and was instrumental in preparing New Mexico for democracy.

Frequent Wild West contributor Doug Hocking is a retired Army officer who has studied ethnography, history and historical archaeology. Suggested for further reading: But Time and Chance: The Story of Padre Martínez of Taos, 1793–1867, by Fray Angelico Chavez Los Hermanos Penitentes: A Vestige of Medievalism in Southwestern United States, by Lorayne Ann Horka-Follick and Rebellion in Río Arriba, 1837, by Janet Lecompte.

Originally published in the December 2013 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.

New Mexico in the Spanish American War, 1898

New Mexico's part in the Civil war, when the Territory was very young and its citizens and its interests less thoroughly American than now, is only dimmed by the lustre shed on her military annals by the performance of her sons in the war with Spain. The deeds of the famous regiment of "Rough Riders." to which New Mexico furnished a large share of volunteers, will be a cherished heritage to the Southwest as long as men are stirred to enthusiasm by the exploits of war.

At the opening of the Spanish-American war, in 1898, Congress authorized the raising of three cavalry regiments from among the rough riders and riflemen of the Rockies and the Great Plains. The command popularly known as the "Rough Riders" the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, was recruited principally from these western states, and the mustering places for the regiment were appointed in New Mexico, Arizona. Oklahoma and Indian Territory. Before the detailed work of organization was begun. Dr. Leonard Wood was commissioned colonel, and Theodore Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of war, lieutenant-colonel of the regiment.

Within a day or two after it was announced that such a unique command was to be organized, the commanding officers were deluged with applications from every part of the country. While the only organized Bodies they were at liberty to accept were those from the four territories, the raising of the original allotment of seven hundred and eighty to one thousand men allowed them to enroll the names of individual applicants from various other sources, from universities, aristocratic social clubs and from men in whose veins flowed some of the most ancient blood in America.

The regiment gathered and was organized at San Antonio, Texas. The bulk of the regiment was made up of men who came from New Mexico, Arizona. Oklahoma and Indian Territory. "They were a splendid set of men, these southwesterners," wrote Colonel Roosevelt, "tall and sinewy, with resolute, weather-beaten faces, and eyes that looked a man straight in the face without flinching. They included in their ranks men of every occupation: but the three types were those of the cowboy, the hunter and the mining prospector, the man who wandered hither and thither, killing game for a living, and spending his life in the quest for metal wealth. In all the world there could be no better material for soldiers than that afforded by these grim hunters of the mountains, these wild rough riders of the plains. They were accustomed to handling wild and savage horses they were accustomed to following the chase with the rifle, both for sport and as a means of livelihood. Varied though their occupations had been, almost all had, at one time or another, herded cattle and hunted big game. They were hardened to life in the open, and to shifting for themselves under adverse circumstances. They were used, for all their lawless freedom, to the rough discipline of the round-up and the mining company. Some of them came from the small frontier towns but most were from the wilderness, having left their lonely hunters' cabins and shifting cow-camps to seek new and more stirring adventures beyond the sea.

"They had their natural leaders, the men who had shown they could master other men, and could more than hold their own in the eager, driving life of the new settlements.

"The captains and lieutenants were sometimes men who had campaigned in the regular army against Apache, Ute and Cheyenne, and who, on completing their service, had shown their energy by settling in the new communities and growing up to be men of mark. In other cases they were sheriffs, marshals, deputy sheriffs and deputy marshals, men who had fought Indians, and still more often had fought relentless war upon the lands of white desperadoes.'' There was Captain Llewellyn, of New Mexico, a good citizen, a political leader, and one of the most noted peace officers of the country he had been shot four times in pitched fights with red marauders and white outlaws. There was Lieutenant Ballard, who had broken up the Black-jack gang of ill-omened notoriety, and his captain, Curry, another New Mexican sheriff of fame. All easterners and westerners, northerners and southerners, officers and men, cowboys and college graduates, wherever they came from, and whatever their social position, possessed in common the traits of hardihood and a thirst for adventure. They were to a man born adventurers, in the old sense of the word."

On Sunday, May 29, the regiment broke camp and proceeded by rail to Tampa, Fla., the trip consuming four days. On the morning of June 14 the troops proceeded, on board the transport Yucatan, for Cuba. For six days the thirty or more transports which had left Tampa steamed steadily southwestward, under the escort of battleships, cruisers and torpedo boats. On the morning of June 22 the troops began disembarking at Daiquiri, a small port near Santiago de Cuba, after this and other nearby points had been shelled to dislodge any Spaniards who might be lurking in the vicinity.

Before leaving Tampa the Rough Riders had been brigaded with the First (white) and Tenth (colored) Regular Cavalry under Brigadier-General S. B. M. Young, as the Second Brigade, which, with the First Brigade, formed a cavalry division placed in command of Major-General Joseph Wheeler. The afternoon following their landing they were ordered forward through the narrow, hilly jungle trail, arriving after nightfall at Siboney.

Before the tired soldiers (men who had been accustomed to traveling on horseback all their lives, for the most part, but now compelled to proceed on foot) could recuperate, the order to proceed against the Spanish position was given, and the first actual fighting was on. This was on Tune 24. During the advance against the Spanish outposts Henry J. Haefner, of Troop G., fell, mortally wounded. This was the first casualty in action. Haefner enlisted from Gallup, New Mexico. He fell without uttering a sound, and two of his companions dragged him behind a tree. Here he propped himself up and asked for his canteen and his rifle, which Colonel Roosevelt handed to him. He then began loading and firing, which he continued until the line moved forward. After the fight he was found dead.

After driving the enemy from their position at the American right a temporary hill followed. Fighting between the Spanish outposts and the American line was soon resumed, however. A perfect hail of bullets swept over the advancing line, but most of them went high. After a quick charge the enemy abandoned their main position in the skirmish line. The loss to the Rough Riders was eight men killed and thirty-four wounded the First Cavalry lost seven men killed and eight wounded the Tenth Cavalry lost one man killed and ten wounded. The Spaniards were under General Rubin. This fight, the first on Cuban soil, is officially known as the Battle of Las Guasimas.

On the afternoon of June 25 the regiment moved forward about two miles and camped for several days. In the meantime General Young was stricken with the fever. Colonel Wood then took command of the brigade, leaving Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt in command of the regiment. On June 30 orders were received to be prepared to march against Santiago. It was not until the middle of the afternoon that the regiment took its position in the marching army, and eight o'clock that night when they halted on El Paso hill. Word ^vent forth that the main fighting was to be done by Lawton's infantry, which was to take El Caney, several miles to the right, while the Rough Riders were simply to make a diversion with the artillery.

About six o'clock the next morning, July 1, the fighting began at El Caney. As throughout the entire campaign, the enemy used smokeless powder, which rendered the detection of their location well-nigh impossible. Soon after the beginning of the artillery engagement. Colonel Roosevelt was ordered to march his command to the right and connect with Lawton, an order impossible to obey. A captive balloon was in the air at the time. As the men started to cross a ford, the balloon, to the horror of everybody, began to settle at the exact front of fording. It was a special target for the enemy's fire, but the regiment crossed before it reached the ground. There it partly collapsed and remained, causing severe loss of life, as it indicated the exact point at which other troops were crossing.

The heat was intense, and many of the men began to show signs of exhaustion early in the day. The Mauser bullets drove in sheets through the trees and jungle grass. The bulk of the Spanish fire appeared to be practically un-aimed, but the enemy swept the entire field of battle. Though the troopers were scattered out far apart, taking advantage of every scrap of cover, man after man fell dead or wounded. Soon the order came to move forward and support the regulars in the assault on the hills in front. Waving his hat aloft. Colonel Roosevelt shouted the command to charge the hill on the right front. At about the same moment the other officers gave similar orders, and the exciting rush up 'Kettle hill" began. The first guidons planted on the summit of the hill, according to Roosevelt's account, were those of Troops G, E and F of his regiment, under their captains, Llewellyn, Luna and Muller.

No sooner were the Americans on the crest of the hill than the Spaniards, from their strong entrenchments on the hills in front, opened a heavy fire, with rifles and artillery. Our troops then began volley firing against the San Juan block-house and the surrounding trenches. As the regulars advanced in their final assault and the enemy began running from the rifle pits, the Rough Riders were ordered to cease firing and charge the next line of trenches, on the hills in front, from which they had been undergoing severe punishment. Thinking that his men naturally would follow. Colonel Roosevelt jumped over the wire fence in front and started rapidly up the hill. But the troopers were so excited that they did not hear or heed him. After leading on about a hundred yards with but five men, he returned and chided his men for having failed to follow him.

"We did not hear you. Colonel," cried some of the men. "We didn't see you go. Lead on, now we'll sure follow you."

The other regiments joined the Rough Riders in the historic charge which followed. But long before they could reach the Spaniards the latter ran, excepting a few who either surrendered or were shot down. When the attacking force reached the trenches they found them filled with dead bodies. There were few wounded. Most of the fallen had bullet holes in their heads which told of the accurate aim of the American sharpshooters. "There was great confusion at this time," writes Colonel Roosevelt, "the different regiments being completely intermingled, white regulars, colored regulars, and Rough Riders. We were still under a heavy fire and I got together a mixed lot of men and pushed on from the trenches and ranch houses which we had just taken, driving the Spaniards through a line of palm trees, and over the crest of a chain of hills. When we reached these crests we found ourselves overlooking Santiago."

Here Colonel Roosevelt was ordered to advance no further, but to hold the hill at all hazards. With his own command were all the fragments of the other five cavalry regiments at the extreme right. The Spaniards had fallen back upon their supports, and our troops were still under a very heavy fire from rifles and artillery. Our artillery made one or two efforts to come into action on the infantry firing line, but their black powder rendered each attempt fruitless. In the course of the afternoon the Spaniards made an unsuccessful attempt to retake the hill. A few seconds' firing stopped their advance and drove them into cover of the trenches.

The troops slept that night on the hill-top, being attacked but once before daybreak, about 3 A. M. and then for a short time only. At dawn the attack was renewed in earnest. The Spaniards fought more stubbornly than at Las Guasimas, but their ranks broke when the Americans charged home.

In the attack on the San Juan hills our forces numbered about sixty-six hundred. The Spanish force numbered about forty-five hundred. Our total loss in killed and wounded was one thousand and seventy-one.

The fighting continued July 2, but most of the Spanish firing proved harmless. During the day our force in the trenches was increased to about eleven thousand, and the Spaniards in Santiago to upwards of nine thousand. As the day wore on the fight, though raging fitfully at intervals, gradually died away. The Spanish guerrillas caused our troops much trouble, however. They were located, usually, in the tops of trees, and as they used smokeless powder it was almost impossible to locate and dislodge them. These guerrillas showed not only courage, but great cruelty and barbarity. They seemed to prefer for their victims the unarmed attendants, the surgeons, the chaplains and hospital stewards. They fired at the men who were bearing off the wounded in litters, at the doctors who came to the front and at the chaplains who held burial service.

The firing was energetically resumed on the morning of the 3rd, but during the day the only loss to the Rough Riders was one man wounded. At noon the order to stop tiring was given, and a flag of truce was sent in to demand the surrender of the city. For a week following peace negotiations dragged along. Failing of success, fighting was resumed shortly after noon of the loth, but it soon became evident that the Spaniards did not have much heart in their work. About the only Rough Riders who had a chance for active work were the men with the Colt automatic guns and twenty picked sharpshooters who were on the watch for guerrillas. At noon, on the nth, the Rough Riders, with one of the Gatlings, were sent over to the right to guard the Caney road. But no fighting was necessary, for the last straggling shot had been fired by the time they arrived.

On the 17th the city formally surrendered. Two days later the entire division was marched back to the foothills west of El Caney, where it went into camp with the artillery. Here many of the officers and men became ill, and as a rule less than fifty present were fit for any kind of work. All clothing was in rags even the officers had neither socks nor underwear. The authorities at Washington, misled by reports received from some of their military and medical advisers at the front, became panic-stricken and hesitated to bring the army home, lest it might import yellow fever into the United States. The real foe, however, was not yellow fever, but malarial fever. The awful conditions surrounding the army finally led to the writing of the historic "round robin," in which the leading officers in Cuba showed that to keep the army in Santiago meant its complete and objectless ruin. The result was immediate. Within three days orders came to put the army in readiness to sail for home. August 6 the order came to embark, and the next morning the Rough Riders sailed on the transport Miami which reached Montauk point, the east end of Long Island, New York, on the afternoon of the 14th. The following day the troops disembarked and went into camp at Camp Wyckoff. The regiment remained here until September 15, when its members received their discharges and returned to civil life.

Source: History of New Mexico, Its Resources and People, Volume II, Pacific States Publishing Co., 1907.

©New Mexico American History and Genealogy Project 2011 - 2021
Created 1996 by Charles Barnum & 2016 by Judy White

Juan de Oñate

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Juan de Oñate, (born 1550?, New Spain—died 1630), conquistador who established the colony of New Mexico for Spain. During his despotic governorship, he vainly sought the mythical riches of North America and succeeded instead in unlocking the geographical secrets of what is now the southwestern United States.

The son of wealthy parents in Zacatecas, New Spain, Oñate gained added status when he married a granddaughter of Hernán Cortés. His request to conquer and govern New Mexico was approved in 1595, but it was not until three years later (January 1598) that his expedition of 400 settlers finally began its northern journey. They crossed the Rio Grande at El Paso in May 1598, and Oñate established headquarters at that river’s confluence with the Chama at San Juan. From there he sent out small parties in all directions to search for treasure—which did not exist. Disillusioned, many settlers wanted to return to New Spain, but Oñate refused to let them go and executed several of the leading malcontents. His treatment of the Native Americans was even more brutal.

In June 1601 Oñate set out to find the legendary treasure of Quivira (in what is now central Kansas) but returned in November empty-handed and found, moreover, that most of his colony had departed during his absence. In a last attempt to recover his prestige, he led (1604) 30 soldiers on an expedition west to the Colorado River and south to the Gulf of California, but he still found no gold. He resigned in 1607 and later stood trial for his crimes while governor. Found guilty of cruelty, immorality, and false reporting, he was exiled from the colony, fined, and deprived of his titles. Appeals brought a reversal of his sentence (1624) but not restoration to office.

This article was most recently revised and updated by John M. Cunningham, Readers Editor.

Colonial period, 1701–1821

As colonial life gradually stabilized itself, more Spanish women emigrated to New Spain, accompanying their fathers and brothers, and greatly altered the social composition of colonial society. Spanish women, especially those who could bring a respectable dowry to marriage, were greatly sought. Although Spanish society, like other European societies, was patriarchal in its relegation of women, wives and daughters could inherit property. By the late colonial period several women could be found running businesses in the cities or administering rural property in New Spain.

A fundamental shift in the governance of New Spain occurred as a result of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–13), when the house of Bourbon replaced the Habsburgs on the Spanish throne. The Bourbon kings were enlightened despots whose major interests lay in increasing economic returns, and they introduced many French practices and ideas into the overseas administration of the Spanish empire.

Among the notable administrative reforms undertaken by Charles III in 1784 was the creation of 18 intendancies within which local governments were also reorganized. Headed by the intendancy of Mexico, each intendancy (intendencia) was presided over by an intendente who was given considerable autonomy in increasing economic production within his sphere, developing useful arts and sciences, and bettering education and social conditions, all of the latter less for altruistic than for economic reasons.

Fed by currents of rationalism from England and Europe, the Enlightenment in Spain and Mexico spurred the spread of new scientific knowledge and, especially, its application to mining and agriculture. Mexico was also influenced by political liberalism when the American and French revolutions called into question the divine right of kings and by growing militarism when the British and Russians encroached on New Spain’s colonial frontiers. Having strung a series of mission-forts across northern Mexico, authorities in Madrid and Mexico augmented the few regular Spanish troops that could be spared from the peninsula by fostering a local militia with special exemptions (fueros) granted to Creole (Mexican-born) officers. Thus, an explosive combination resulted from the almost simultaneous appearances of new ideas, guns, and administrative confusion between the old Habsburg and the new Bourbon bureaucracies.

The turmoil of Napoleonic Europe was the immediate background of the move for Mexican independence. Napoleon I occupied Spain in 1808, imprisoned King Ferdinand VII, and placed his own brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne. Rebelling, the Spanish resurrected their long-defunct Cortes (representative assembly) to govern in the absence of the legitimate king, and, with representation from the overseas realms, the Cortes in 1812 promulgated a liberal constitution in the king’s name. The document provided for a constitutional monarch, popular suffrage, a representative government, and other features taken from the French and U.S. constitutions. But as Spain sent contradictory commands to Mexico, it stimulated rivalries and revolts. The viceregal establishment put down sporadic rebellions by those who professed loyalty to the imprisoned king but who demanded some form of self-government.

The most important local revolt was sparked by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a parish priest in Dolores. On Sept. 16, 1810—the date now celebrated as Mexican Independence Day—Hidalgo issued the “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”), calling for the end of rule by Spanish peninsulars, for equality of races, and for redistribution of land.

Warning that the Spaniards would deliver Mexico to the “godless” French, Hidalgo exhorted his followers to fight and die for the Mexican Virgin, Our Lady of Guadalupe. When Hidalgo left his tiny village, he marched with his followers into Guanajuato, a major colonial mining centre peopled by Spaniards and Creoles. There the leading citizens barricaded themselves in a public granary. Hidalgo captured the granary on September 28, but he quickly lost control of his rebel army, which massacred most of the Creole elite and pillaged the town.

Reports of the chaos in Guanajuato fed the support for the viceroy’s efforts to crush the rebellion, lest a full-scale caste war ensue. Royalist forces defeated Hidalgo at the Bridge of Calderón on January 18, 1811, and captured him along with other major insurgent leaders on March 19. On July 31 Hidalgo was executed, ending the first of the political civil wars that were to wrack Mexico for three-fourths of a century.

The Hidalgo cause was taken up by his associate José María Morelos y Pavón, another parish priest. With a small but disciplined rebel army he won control of substantial sections of southern Mexico. The constituent congresses, which Morelos called at Chilpancingo in 1813, issued at Apatzingán in 1814 formal declarations of independence and drafted republican constitutions for the areas under his military control.

At about the same time, Napoleonic troops were withdrawing from Spain, and in 1814 Ferdinand VII returned from involuntary exile. One of his first acts was to nullify Spain’s liberal 1812 constitution. Spanish troops, which were no longer needed to fight the French, were ordered to crush the Morelos revolution. Captured and defrocked, Morelos was shot as a heretic and a revolutionary on December 22, 1815. Scattered but dwindling guerrilla bands kept alive the populist, republican, nationalist tradition of Hidalgo and Morelos.

Mexican independence came about almost by accident when constitutionalists in Spain led a rebellion that, in 1820, forced Ferdinand VII to reinstate the liberal constitution of 1812. Conservatives in Mexico, alarmed that anticlerical liberals would threaten their religious, economic, and social privileges, saw independence from Spain as a method of sparing New Spain from such changes. They found a spokesman and able leader in Agustín de Iturbide, a first-generation Creole. Iturbide, who had served as a loyal royalist officer against Hidalgo and others, had been given command of royal troops with which he was to snuff out remnants of the republican movement, then headed by the future president Vicente Guerrero.

While ostensibly fighting Guerrero, however, Iturbide was in fact negotiating with him to join a new independence movement. In 1821 they issued the so-called Iguala Plan (Plan de Iguala), a conservative document declaring that Mexico was to be independent, that its religion was to be Roman Catholicism, and that its inhabitants were to be united, without distinction between Mexican and European. It stipulated further that Mexico would become a constitutional monarchy under Ferdinand VII, that he or some Spanish prince would occupy the throne in Mexico City, and that an interim junta would draw up regulations for the election of deputies to a congress that would write a constitution for the monarchy.

United as the Army of the Three Guarantees (independence, union, preservation of Roman Catholicism), the combined troops of Iturbide and Guerrero gained control of most of Mexico by the time Juan O’Donojú, appointed Spanish captain general, arrived in the viceregal capital. Without money, provisions, or troops, O’Donojú felt himself compelled to sign the Treaty of Córdoba on August 24, 1821. The treaty officially ended New Spain’s dependence on Old Spain, renamed the nation the Mexican Empire, and declared that the congress was to elect an emperor if no suitable European prince could be found. In one of the ironies of history, a conservative Mexico had gained independence from a temporarily liberal Spain.

Indian Slavery Once Thrived in New Mexico. Latinos Are Finding Family Ties to It.

ALBUQUERQUE — Lenny Trujillo made a startling discovery when he began researching his descent from one of New Mexico’s pioneering Hispanic families: One of his ancestors was a slave.

“I didn’t know about New Mexico’s slave trade, so I was just stunned,” said Mr. Trujillo, 66, a retired postal worker who lives in Los Angeles. “Then I discovered how slavery was a defining feature of my family’s history.”

Mr. Trujillo is one of many Latinos who are finding ancestral connections to a flourishing slave trade on the blood-soaked frontier now known as the American Southwest. Their captive forebears were Native Americans — slaves frequently known as Genízaros (pronounced heh-NEE-sah-ros) who were sold to Hispanic families when the region was under Spanish control from the 16th to 19th centuries. Many Indian slaves remained in bondage when Mexico and later the United States governed New Mexico.

The revelations have prompted some painful personal reckonings over identity and heritage. But they have also fueled a larger, politically charged debate on what it means to be Hispanic and Native American.

A growing number of Latinos who have made such discoveries are embracing their indigenous backgrounds, challenging a long tradition in New Mexico in which families prize Spanish ancestry. Some are starting to identify as Genízaros. Historians estimate that Genízaros accounted for as much as one-third of New Mexico’s population of 29,000 in the late 18th century.


“We’re discovering things that complicate the hell out of our history, demanding that we reject the myths we’ve been taught,” said Gregorio Gonzáles, 29, an anthropologist and self-described Genízaro who writes about the legacies of Indian enslavement.

Those legacies were born of a tortuous story of colonial conquest and forced assimilation.

New Mexico, which had the largest number of sedentary Indians north of central Mexico, emerged as a coveted domain for slavers almost as soon as the Spanish began settling here in the 16th century, according to Andrés Reséndez, a historian who details the trade in his 2016 book, “The Other Slavery.” Colonists initially took local Pueblo Indians as slaves, leading to an uprising in 1680 that temporarily pushed the Spanish out of New Mexico.

The trade then evolved to include not just Hispanic traffickers but horse-mounted Comanche and Ute warriors, who raided the settlements of Apache, Kiowa, Jumano, Pawnee and other peoples. They took captives, many of them children plucked from their homes, and sold them at auctions in village plazas.

The Spanish crown tried to prohibit slavery in its colonies, but traffickers often circumvented the ban by labeling their captives in parish records as criados, or servants. The trade endured even decades after the Mexican-American War, when the United States took control of much of the Southwest in the 1840s.

Seeking to strengthen the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, Congress passed the Peonage Act of 1867 after learning of propertied New Mexicans owning hundreds and perhaps thousands of Indian slaves, mainly Navajo women and children. But scholars say the measure, which specifically targeted New Mexico, did little for many slaves in the territory.

Many Hispanic families in New Mexico have long known that they had indigenous ancestry, even though some here still call themselves “Spanish” to emphasize their Iberian ties and to differentiate themselves from the state’s 23 federally recognized tribes, as well as from Mexican and other Latin American immigrants.

But genetic testing is offering a glimpse into a more complex story. The DNA of Hispanic people from New Mexico is often in the range of 30 to 40 percent Native American, according to Miguel A. Tórrez, 42, a research technologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of New Mexico’s most prominent genealogists.

He and other researchers cross-reference DNA tests with baptismal records, marriage certificates, census reports, oral histories, ethnomusicology findings, land titles and other archival documents.

Mr. Tórrez’s own look into his origins shows how these searches can produce unexpected results. He found one ancestor who was probably Ojibwe, from lands around the Great Lakes, roughly a thousand miles away, and another of Greek origin among the early colonizers claiming New Mexico for Spain.

“I have Navajo, Chippewa, Greek and Spanish blood lines,” said Mr. Tórrez, who calls himself a mestizo, a term referring to mixed ancestry. “I can’t say I’m indigenous any more than I can say I’m Greek, but it’s both fascinating and disturbing to see how various cultures came together in New Mexico.”

Revelations about how Indian enslavement was a defining feature of colonial New Mexico can be unsettling for some in the state, where the authorities have often tried to perpetuate a narrative of relatively peaceful coexistence between Hispanics, Indians and Anglos, as non-Hispanic whites are generally called here.

Pointing to their history, some descendants of Genízaros are coming together to argue that they deserve the same recognition as Native tribes in the United States. One such group in Colorado, the 200-member Genízaro Affiliated Nations, organizes annual dances to commemorate their heritage.

“It’s not about blood quantum or DNA testing for us, since those things can be inaccurate measuring sticks,” said David Atekpatzin Young, 62, the organization’s tribal chairman, who traces his ancestry to Apache and Pueblo peoples. “We know who we are, and what we want is sovereignty and our land back.”

Some here object to calling Genízaros slaves, arguing that the authorities in New Mexico were relatively flexible in absorbing Indian captives. In an important distinction with African slavery in parts of the Americas, Genízaros could sometimes attain economic independence and even assimilate into the dominant Hispanic classes, taking the surnames of their masters and embracing Roman Catholicism.

Genízaros and their offspring sometimes escaped or served out their terms of service, then banded together to forge buffer settlements against Comanche raids. Offering insight into how Indian captives sought to escape their debased status, linguists trace the origins of the word Genízaro to the Ottoman Empire’s janissaries, the special soldier class of Christians from the Balkans who converted to Islam, and were sometimes referred to as slaves.

Moisés Gonzáles, a Genízaro professor of architecture at the University of New Mexico, has identified an array of Genízaro outposts that endure in the state, including the villages Las Trampas and San Miguel del Vado. Some preserve traditions that reflect their Genízaro origins, and like other products of colonialism, many are cultural amalgams of customs and motifs from sharply disparate worlds.

Each December in the village of Alcalde, for instance, performers in headdresses stage the Matachines dance, thought by scholars to fuse the theme of Moorish-Christian conflict in medieval Spain with indigenous symbolism evoking the Spanish conquest of the New World.

In Abiquiú, settled by Genízaros in the 18th century, people don face paint and feathers every November to perform a “captive dance” about the village’s Indian origins — on a day honoring a Catholic saint.

Watch the video: Γένεσις, η Δημιουργία του κόσμου σε 6 ημέρες (December 2022).

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