Geographically, it forms the western edge of the Great Plains and gradually rises to meet the Sangre de Cristos, with a band of ancient and, in a few areas, more recent volcanoes running southwest to northeast toward the state's northeastern corner to provide a little scenic variety. Mainly to yourself; this is a very empty region. Non-English speakers are in shorter supply than in some other areas of New Mexico, but you may have some opportunities to use Spanish, particularly in some of the small towns near the Sangre de Cristos where Spanish may even be the dominant language.
Many natives from eastern New Mexico speak with a Southern accent.
The nearest major airport is in Albuquerque just beyond the southwest corner of the region. Interstate highway 40 forms the southern boundary of the region, and I runs through it north to south, so highway access is generally not a problem.
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The primary Amtrak line across the Southwest , the Southwest Chief , follows I through this region, but stations are few and far between, with just one stop in Las Vegas and another in Raton. The high plains generally pose fewer driving difficulties than other parts of the state, but make sure to keep your car well fueled owing to the paucity of service stations except along the interstates.
Blizzards occasionally roar through in the winter and can close the roads for short periods. The usual comments on driving in the Great Plains apply. This is a good area in which to keep your gas tank full; towns are few and far between, and you don't want to run out of gas forty miles from nowhere. There is very little crime after all, there's very little population and no public health hazards of any unusual significance.
Northeast New Mexico. The new bishop, after his arrival in , began a campaign to impose religious discipline upon the native clergy, whose lighthearted style of living caused him personal pain and scandalized the Americans. But Lamy did manage to begin a new era in the moral and spiritual life of New Mexico. Working with the energy of a whirlwind, he built in succeeding years forty-five new churches and a string of parochial schools. Knopf, New York, Before education or the natural process of assimilation could make much headway, however, the people of the Southwest found themselves caught up in the momentous and ugly Civil War.
It was an issue in which the New Mexicans felt only a small stake. The question of the expansion of slavery to the western territories, especially the New Mexico territory, dominated the debate in Congress during the s. Actually, in all the New Mexico territory, there were only twenty-one black slaves in Many politicians in Washington had long recognized New Mexico as a land unsuitable for slavery because the agriculture was small in scale and native labor was both plentiful and cheap.
Territorial citizens had approved antislavery resolutions in and But a reversal in sentiment came in , with adoption of a slavery code engineered by Miguel A. Otero, the New Mexican delegate to Congress. Territorial New Mexicans desired to be left alone, for they saw little to be gained by joining in the political arguments between the North and the South over slavery and the legality of secession. When the storm broke, splitting the country in half, New Mexico unexpectedly found herself part of the theater of conflict.
From the outset, the newly formed Confederacy cast covetous eyes westward, where it dreamed of creating an empire that would reach the Pacific. Winning the West became a crucial aspect of winning the war for the Confederacy. The grand strategy developed by Southern leaders showed plainly that as a first step toward westward expansion, New Mexico must be brought into the Confederacy.
At the outbreak of the Civil War the affairs of the upper Rio Grande made it appear that Confederate annexation of New Mexico could be accomplished with relative ease. In the lower part of the territory there existed a hard core of Southern sympathizers — mainly ranchers out of Texas, who had settled in the Mesilla district. Most of the ranking officers serving in the New Mexico military defected to the South, bringing with them precious information on war material stored at several territorial forts.
The Rio Grande, for centuries the scene of fierce struggles between the Spanish and Native Americans now experienced the violence between Northerners and Southerners. Brigadier General Henry H. Sibley of the Confederate army and Colonel Edward R. The Battle of Valverde involved the bloodiest kind of tough, stand-up fighting. At the end of the day Col. The laurels, however, were anything but clearly won.
General Sibley seriously miscalculated the strength of Union arms opposing him in the north. The Civil War in the Southwest was indeed moving toward a climax. On March 27 and 28, , regular troops from Fort Union, supported by the Colorado Volunteers, met the Rebels at Glorieta, in what would become known as the Gettysburg of the West. Chivington of the volunteers delivered a wholly unexpected thunderbolt.
The debacle at Glorieta and the retreat to Texas scuttled for all time Confederate hopes for an empire in western America. One consequence of the Civil War in the Southwest was that the U. Congress finally turned its attention to the creating of another territory. Arizona was carved from the western half of New Mexico in Another outcome was that it left the frontier open to attack by hostile Indians.
It was not lost on the tribes seeking plunder or bearing old grudges that the white men were fighting among themselves, abandoning forts, and withdrawing troops for duty in the East. The ensuing bloodshed brought nightmare days to New Mexico. His troops were ready for acting and he had fixed notions about how to deal with hostile tribes.
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Placing Militia Colonel Kit Carson in charge of troops in the field, the general sent his men to harry the tribe into submission. Here Fort Sumner, constructed by Carleton, stood guard. Next it was the turn of the Navajo, a people numbering at that time some ten thousand and inhabiting the crumpled and rock-strewn lands of western New Mexico. For years, Spanish and Mexican expeditions had tried to bring them to bay, but the Navajo proved too nimble, fading into the remote canyon lands whenever their enemies gave chase.
During the last half of , government troops marched and countermarched through Navajo land, destroying crops and orchards and capturing livestock. They fought no major battles, but their campaigning left the Navajo economy in ruins. In January of , Kit Carson led his men into the depths of Can yon de Chelly, where, for the first time, he encountered a large body of Navajo.
They were exhausted and starving, and at that point disposed to listen to a man who was known to be trustworthy. The tribe would have to emigrate to a government reservation at Bosque Redondo, Carson told them, but that was preferable to annihilation. Under the circumstances, the majority of the Navajo agreed, and they surrendered. But the reservation turned out to be an abject failure. The barren land in the Pecos valley could not support the nine thousand Indians crowded there, most of whom were not interested in farming, anyway. The drinking water turned out to be disagreeably rich in alkali, having a stronger effect on the stomach than castor oil, as one soldier stationed at Fort Sumner wrote his wife.
The federal government failed to provide adequate supplies to support the Indians during the period that they were getting established. And putting the Mescalero and Navajo — traditional enemies- together on the same reservation was soon recognized as a colossal blunder. With an end of hostilities and the virtual extermination of the buffalo, which quickly followed, the vast grasslands of eastern New Mexico were suddenly thrown open for settlement.
Only some stray Apache bands in southwestern New Mexico had to be dealt with, but defeating them proved to be the most difficult of all. In , Chief Victorio and some of his warriors bolted from their reservation and cut a bloody path across the Rio Grande and into Arizona. His son-in-law, Nana, half-blind and crippled by rheumatism, but still capable of riding seventy miles a day, then took up the hatchet and continued the war. Nana fought eight battles against the Americans and won them all, before coming into the San Carlos Reservation in eastern Arizona.
In , Nana escaped with Geronimo and raided until the final Apache surrender the following year. The most troublesome Indians were placed on a train and sent to Fort Marion, Florida, as prisoners of war. While the nomad tribes were suffering defeat and confinement on the reservations, the Pueblo people were preoccupied with adjusting to life under American rule.
Mexico had recognized them as citizens and had provided special attorneys to protect their property rights, but it appeared that the United States was unprepared to grant them these privileges and unwilling to make any legal distinction between Pueblos and the warlike nomads. Calhoun, recognized the special problem as early as He informed Washington that the industrious Pueblos were model subjects and urged that they be extended voting rights and that their land grants, given by Spain, be protected.
The last point was particularly important, because the Indians, holding some of the best-irrigated agricultural lands in the territory, were constantly bothered by trespassers and squatters. The U. Surveyor General did confirm original Pueblo grants after , a ruling reaffirmed by Congress. But the duty of the federal government to intervene actively to protect Pueblo Indian lands from encroachment, the policy Spain had pursued, would not be recognized until By and large, the Pueblos had to wait until the opening decades of the twentieth century before much notice was taken of them, but Abraham Lincoln offered one small gesture acknowledging their existence in As early as , the Spanish government had presented silver-tipped canes, or staffs of justice, to the Pueblo Indian governors as a symbol of authority.
The canes, carefully preserved, continued to be passed down from one official to another long after Spain had given up her hold on New Mexico. President Lincoln, hearing of the custom and wishing to honor the Pueblos for remaining neutral during the Civil War, prepared a new set of canes, each with a silver crown upon which was engraved the name of the pueblo, the date of , and the signature A. These gifts were honored alongside the original Spanish staffs; even today, when the Pueblos inaugurate their governors each January 1, both canes are ceremoniously conveyed to the new officials.
Continuing westward, the railroad bypassed Santa Fe and curved down the Rio Grande valley to Albuquerque. It reached south to a division point at Rincon. There, one branch was extended to El Paso, while the other ran to Deming, where, in , it forged a transcontinental link with the Southern Pacific that was building eastward from California. New Mexico at that time already possessed one of the oldest mining industries in America. In the Cerrillos Hills south of Santa Fe, Pueblo Indians for centuries had worked open-pit turquoise mines, removing some one hundred thousand tons of waste rock, with nothing more than muscle and primitive tools.
The Spanish showed little interest in turquoise, but they did extract lead, coal, and considerable copper from the Santa Rita del Cobre Mines near Silver City. During the Mexican period, a short-lived gold rush drew fortune seekers to the Ortiz Mountains south of the Galisteo Basin. The wealth proved real enough, just not large enough to fulfill the extravagant dreams of those who pegged their hopes on a never-ending supply of precious metal. In the wake of the bust, the high country was littered with ghost towns and abandoned tunnels whose only occupants were swarms of shrieking bats.
As early as , beef contractors for the Bosque Redondo Reservation were encouraging stockmen to drive cattle from the plains of west Texas up the valley of the Pecos River to feed the captive Navajo. Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving, among the early participants in that activity, took their first herd of longhorns to New Mexico in the summer of Even though others had blazed their route up the Pecos, it soon became known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail, and when in succeeding years it was extended to Colorado and beyond, it came to rank with the Sedalia and the Chisholm trails as one of the great cattle thoroughfares of the American West.
Among them, inevitably, came the lawless preying on the settlers in the mining camps, railroad towns, and cattle ranches. The Colfax County War — , one of the more prominent disturbances, pitted claimants of the nearly two-million-acre Maxwell Land Grant against squatters who had settled on what they regarded as public domain. The bloody disorders in southern New Mexico that came to be known as the Lincoln County War — attracted even greater attention.
There, within the 27, square miles embracing the largest county in the United States, rival factions composed of merchants and cattlemen fell to feuding. Complete lawlessness soon reigned, as rustlers and gunfighters arrived from all parts of the Southwest to take advantage of the turmoil. Among them was the young William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.
By the summer of the Lincoln County War was burning itself out. Vaughan Privately printed, Las Cruces, Even in the midst of civil strife and political storms, New Mexico was edging toward a social and cultural transformation. New Mexico, despite immigration from the eastern United States, steady economic growth, and a gradual increase in educational institutions, all of which drew the territory closer to the mainstream of national life, still remained a land apart.
Much of the reason resided in the continuing dominance of the Hispanic population. In the other borderland provinces acquired from Mexico in , Texas, Arizona, and California, the original inhabitants, by contrast, had quickly been swamped by incoming Anglo-Americans and their Hispanic culture was either buried or relegated to small, isolated islands within the new English-speaking society.
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For a long time in the nineteenth century, New Mexicans were allowed to move along at an unhurried pace, and to follow their Old World customs without interference because other Americans were hardly aware of their existence. Gradually, of course, by a process of accretion, American ways made inroads.
Yet the framework of Hispanic culture was kept intact and continued to serve as the principal point of reference by which the people viewed their past and measured the future. Some Americans remained skeptical that New Mexicans were loyal and worthy American citizens. Otero, Jr. Otero, the first Hispanic governor of the territory, knew he was on the spot. The response from both Hispanics and Anglos was so generous that afterward Theodore Roosevelt would claim that half the officers and men of his famous Rough Riders Regiment came from New Mexico.
In Congress passed the Fergusson Act providing for the foundation of a public school system in the territory. It provided for the calling of a constitutional convention in New Mexico. The conservative document that body drafted was ratified by voters early the following year, and on January 6, , New Mexico became the forty-seventh state in the Union. Many newcomers found that millions of acres of the best land for farming, ranching, and logging lay beyond their grasp.
The Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo had promised to protect the ownership rights of the heirs of land grants. The difficulty of fulfilling that promise became apparent only later, as differences in Spanish and Anglo concepts of law and land tenure began to raise complex legal questions. The most flammable of these involved the old community land grants, which had been made by Spain and Mexico. Originally, under terms of such grants, settlers had received individual title to the small amount of farmland available along the irrigation ditches, while the remainder of the grant was held in common for purposes of grazing and wood gathering.
The boundaries of the community holdings, in the absence of surveyors, were inexactly delineated, using such natural landmarks as large rocks, prominent trees, springs and arroyos. Within a short time after establishment of the American legal system, complications arising from these Hispanic practices produced a tangled web of claims and counterclaims and opened the way for speculators to obtain, often through deceit and fraud, a controlling interest in some of the most valuable grants.
Congress took a sidelong look at the problem and handed it to the Office of the Surveyor-General, which was created in for the specific purpose of adjudicating Spanish and Mexican land titles. At the time, New Mexico had more than one thousand claims awaiting settlement, some of them dealing with the community grants and others with large private grants that had once been allotted to individual Spanish families. The first surveys showed that many of the old boundaries could no longer be accurately defined and that often the grants had overlapping claims.
Legitimate descendants of grantees seldom possessed their original papers, and some of those who did, through fear or distrust of the alien legal procedures now imposed upon them, failed to bring the documents forward to receive new patents for their lands. In the forefront of those who profited from such a situation were the lawyers — the class of men who Father Martinez had predicted in the s would supplant priests as the real power in New Mexico. For clearing titles, they exacted huge fees. These fees were usually paid in land from that held in common, so that, within time, as seemingly endless litigation over titles continued, sharp-eyed American lawyers and their associates acquired possession of prodigious sections of the Spanish grants.
One Santa Fe attorney, for example, was reported by a local newspaper in to have an interest in seventy-five grants and to own outright nearly two million acres. Although that body succeeded in adjudicating all claims by , it sowed the seeds of future discord by accepting and continuing a precedent regarding community grants that had been laid down by earlier courts.
Unfamiliar with Spanish law protecting and preserving village commons, American judges had ruled that the ancient common lands could be partitioned and divided among the numerous grant-claimants. That meant that vast areas of upland pastures and mountain woods, of which villagers had made free use for generations, were now allotted to individuals who could put them up for sale if they chose.
Not surprisingly, surrounding lands soon slipped from the grasp of community members and passed to the control of outsiders, often cattlemen from Texas, or into the public domain, where much of it was placed under the National Forest Service. A similar pattern of land loss was experienced by a number of American Indian tribes in the twentieth century, when by Congressional Act their reservations were broken up and the land granted in severalty, thereby destroying the common-property base of community existence.
Government had generally ignored the Pueblo peoples. In , however, the U. Supreme Court handed down a decision that eventually threatened Pueblo lands. In reaching the conclusion that the Pueblo peoples were more advanced culturally than other Indian groups, the court declared that they were not dependents of the federal government and therefore had the authority to handle their own lands as they saw fit. Then, in , the high court again spoke on the issue of Pueblo lands by reversing its earlier decision and declaring that the Pueblo peoples were indeed dependents of the federal government and that non-Indian claims to Pueblo lands were consequently illegal.
This new ruling created the immediate problem of what to do about the three thousand non-Indians who owned Pueblo land, especially since some of those families had lived on this land for two or more generations. In Albert Fall, as Secretary of the Interior, sought a solution to the problem by asking his successor in the U. Senate, Holm O. Bursum, to draft an Indian land bill. If it had passed, this bill would have spelled disaster for the Pueblo peoples because it would have meant the permanent loss of some of their best, irrigated land. Support for the Pueblo cause in response to the Bursum Bill came from a group of artists and writers who had settled in Taos.
John Collier, the young poet invited to New Mexico by Mable Dodge Luhan, took it upon himself to travel with Tony Luhan from pueblo to pueblo to let the Indians leaders know what was being proposed for them. When the Indians learned of the contents of the bill, they were stunned. No federal or state leader had even informed them that an Indian land bill was being considered. Widespread support for the Pueblo cause drew national attention, and the immediate result was the defeat of the Bursum Bill. The attention aroused by the furor over the Bursum Bill also brought improvements in federal Indian policy.
In Congress passed the Pueblo Lands Act, which recognized once and for all the land rights of the Pueblo peoples and provided compensation for the property, which under the law, non-Indians were to give up to the Pueblos. In the same year, Congress passed a second act that addressed the rights of Indians; this law provided American citizenship for Indians born in the United States. Arizona and New Mexico, however, did not allow Indians to vote in national and state elections until , when a federal court ruled that all states had to give Indian peoples the right to vote.
As part of the last wave of the western movement, they were seeking free land at a time when most of the prime land had already been claimed. The Prathers were stockmen, and as they rode, they looked with admiration upon the grassy plains of southeastern New Mexico. Having no desire to compete with either the established ranchers or the encroaching sodbusters, they kept moving. Beyond the Pecos, they followed a pass through a ridge of mountains and emerged upon the western slope to see, dipping before them, the shimmering expanse of the Tularosa Basin and the distant dark ridge of the San Andres Range.
What they had entered, after their trip over the plains and through the cool mountain forest, was a different world — a kingdom whose pebbly soil could support only a thin mantle of grass and scattered clumps of yucca and greasewood. The White Sands, a lake of shifting, glittering gypsum dunes, reached fifty miles north and south down the center of the basin and served as a playground for little whirlwinds, called dust devils, whose antics could be followed by anyone with a perch in the mountains fifty miles away.
Such hard, inhospitable country — much of it then in Lincoln County — attracted a certain breed of men. In those early days, almost everyone else was prepared to leave the Tularosa kingdom to the Apaches and the jackrabbits; and they joked, after seeing natives grubbing roots for fuel and bringing water on burros from the mountains, that this was the only place on the continent where men, reversing the usual order of things, dug for firewood and climbed for water.
But is was here that John Prather, after some shifting about, settled on a spot with fair grass below the Sacramento Mountains and went to raising cattle. Owen, nearby, began developing a sheep ranch. Decades crept by, wars and depression bedeviled the outside world, and all the while under the flaming New Mexican sun, John Prather worked his stock and continued to improve his property of some four thousand deeded acres and an additional twenty thousand acres leased from the government.
Then World War II changed all that for the Tularosa country and for all the off-the-path pockets in New Mexico that had kept one foot planted in the nineteenth century. It had its beginning on the pine-clad summit of the Pajarito Plateau west of Santa Fe.
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Upon the plateau in , the U. Scientists living with their families in almost complete seclusion soon produced the first atomic bomb and tested it on July 16, , at the Trinity Site in the desolate White Sands of southern New Mexico. But it was what followed that proved more disturbing to the residents of the Tularosa Basin. The military was in need of land, a great deal of it, for the testing of rockets and the training of their crews, a program deemed crucial for national defense.
To expand the range, hundreds of thousands of acres were ordered withdrawn from the public domain and from private ownership, which meant condemnation proceedings were instituted against surrounding ranchers. Many of these people waged fierce court battles and appeared at congressional hearings in a bid to keep their land, but one by one, over succeeding years, they lost out and were displaced. Then, in , the government, as it crept eastward toward the Sacramento Mountains swallowing up chunks of ground, ran straight into eighty-two-year-old John Prather.
His land, which he had held and worked for fifty years, was not for sale, Prather announced. Anyone who tried to put him off might get hurt. In the U. District Court at Albuquerque, a condemnation suit resulted in a ninety-day eviction notice for John Prather and his neighbors. Officials, however, had had enough. Public opinion was clearly swinging to the side of the courageous old rancher, and since he could not be moved, short of force, a directive from Washington ordered military personnel to withdraw from the Prather Ranch.
The army then went back to court and obtained a new writ exempting the ranch house and fifteen surrounding acres from confiscation; the remainder of the land was forthwith annexed to the military reservation. If John Prather raised no further fuss, he would be left alone. That ended the matter. Prather had lost his ranch, but he had also won a victory of sorts.
Standing firm, he had forced the U. As one writer later explained it, John Prather reacted as his forebears had reacted against invasion of their independence and property rights. His was the code and psychology of the eighties, and he was the last of his kind. Tularosa, Last of the Frontier West C. Sonnichsen The Devin-Adair Co. Farming was one of the hardest hit segments of the New Mexico economy during the Great Depression.
Dry farmers were especially devastated as they suffered from both continually high operating costs and a prolonged drought that dried up portions of New Mexico so badly that they became part of the Dust Bowl. From Oklahoma to eastern New Mexico, winds picked up the dry topsoil, forming great clouds of dust so thick that it filled the air. The dust blew for hours and was so thick that electric lights could not be seen across the street.
Everywhere they hit, the dust storms killed livestock and destroyed crops. In the Estancia Valley entire crops of pinto beans were killed, and that once productive area was transformed into what author John L. Many New Mexico farmers had few or no crops to sell and eventually, they were forced to sell their land contributing in the process to the overall decline in farmland values. Like the farmers, many ranchers fell behind in their taxes and were forced to sell their land, which was bought by large ranchers.
Yet farmers and ranchers were not the only ones to appear on the list of those devastated by depressed economic conditions. Many mines became the property of larger companies when conditions forced many of the smaller companies out of business. The oil industry, however, remained a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic picture, for increased oil production provided needed tax money to the state.
Tourism also received a boost when the federal government released some federal relief money to create new state parks. Taking office in March , President Franklin D. New Mexicans welcomed New Deal programs of all kinds. Some of the New Deal programs, such as the Works Progress Administration WPA , put people to work in varying jobs: writers, artists, and musicians practiced their trades as employees of WPA projects, while others who worked for the WPA built schools and other public buildings, including the library and the administration building at the University of New Mexico.
By more than thirteen thousand New Mexicans had found jobs through this program. The financial hardships of Santa Fe painter Shuster were replicated thousands of times over among artists countrywide. In early he wrote to his good friend, New York artist John Sloan:. The merchants here…are now beginning to feel the pinch and are consequently beginning to pinch the other fellow…. I am trying…to meet all my current bills and letting the old ones ride until such time as I get the cash to pay them.
Yesterday I had to tell the light company to turn the…electricity off…and that I would use kerosene lamps. His words admitted the reality of a bleak and frightening future for the U. Forty two fifty a week from the Government for painting. In the letter Shuster explained his proposal for three projects one of which Shuster ultimately painted pictures of the Carlsbad Caverns, which were acquired by the National Park Service, and presently hang in the Western Archaeological Conference Center in Tucson, Arizona.
An advocate of mural art in America, Biddle had studied with the Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, and it was his belief that Rivera and others gave voice to the social ideals of the Mexican Revolution of through their vivid, colorful murals. Between — , in the depth of the Depression, known artists lived in New Mexico, all struggling to sell art in a time when many Americans had little money available even for necessities.
Ellis and Peter Hurd. More than 65 murals with varied subject materials were created in New Mexico during the Depression. In addition to these murals, the WPA sponsored more than paintings, ten sculptural pieces, and numerous indigenous Hispanic Native American crafts. The Works Progress Administration in New Mexico developed a strong relationship with the Hispanic Community through its conscious attempt to maintain a tangible sense of ethnic identity, community cohesiveness, and responsive training throughout their projects.
Hunter was dedicated to his task and encouraged his associates in all media to imbue their work with individuality and spirit. In addition to commissioning easel work, prints, sculpture, and murals in fresco and oil for public buildings, the FAP supported programs for reviving craftwork of Spanish-Colonial origin woodworking, embroidery, weaving, and metalwork , teaching of arts and crafts in community art centers, researching native arts for the Index of American Design IAD , and compiling a project unique to New Mexico, the Portfolio of Spanish-Colonial Design.
In particular, Hunter wished to maintain traditional art forms which were in danger of extinction from pressures for wage labor jobs in a non-Hispanic dominated culture. Clearly Hunter viewed his program as providing more than just crucial financial reward to the artists. He was sensitive to the importance of maintaining communal traditions as a way to establish a context for individuality, and he understood self-worth as a direct factor in pride of ethnic identity. Collier took full advantage of New Deal funds to promote Indian arts and crafts, increase employment, improve infrastructure on reservations, and construct schools.
Collier was an idealist who struggled to reform federal Indian policy during his twelve-year term. Years earlier, during a visit to his close friend, Taos resident and art patron Mabel Dodge Luhan, he had embraced Pueblo Indian culture as offering nothing less than salvation from the ills of Western Civilization. Superintendent Chester E. Faris endeavored to hire Indian artists and craftsmen and promote Indian arts as a profession that would permit students to continue living at home if they desired.
The students worked under the direction of painting teacher Dorothy Dunn and crafts teacher Mabel Morrow. She talked Tewa, and she used to tease and laugh and joke in Indian, and that was fun. Six Navajo weavers came to the school, bringing their own wool and yarn.
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The weavers completed 12 rugs ranging in size from 3 ft. The weavers were Nellie Cowboy, Mrs. The Indian participants in the Public Works of Art Project included the leading Indian painters, potters, and sculptors of the century who created work of significant artistic and historical value under the federal sponsorship. As Franklin Roosevelt and the government were dealing with an ailing economy on one front, they were being pulled into fighting a world war on the other. Flynn and Andrew L. Connors Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, After the U.
Deployed in September to the Philippines, then a U. For the most part, the New Mexicans found their job frustrating because their anti-aircraft shells could not hit high-flying Japanese bombers, although the men of the th did shoot down some low-flying Japanese fighter planes. When the Japanese ground forces launched their major assault on the Philippines, New Mexicans fought as members of two regiments — the original th and the newly created th Coast Artillery Regiment.
These regiments heroically covered the withdrawal of American and Filipino troops to the Bataan Peninsula and held on until April 9, when they surrendered. What followed has come to be known as the Bataan Death March, a sixty-five-mile forced march of American prisoners to trains waiting to carry them to a Japanese prison camp. The march took six days, and eleven thousand Americans, including many New Mexicans, died on the way.
Those who reached the camps and survived the terrible conditions there remained prisoners of war until , witnessing during their captivity the deaths of thousands of their less fortunate comrades, again including many New Mexicans. Among the eighteen hundred New Mexicans serving in the Philippines, only nine hundred returned home. When New Mexico became a state in several decades later, the Cavalry was federalized and the th became one of the most ethnically diverse National Guard battalions in the United States.
The tenacity of the th gave the US military time to re-fortify and plan for the European front, possibly changing the course of the war. These brave soldiers were responsible for the defense of the islands of Luzon, Corregidor and the harbor defense forts of the Philippines. The annual Bataan Memorial March is held each year at White Sands Missile Range with marchers from across the United States and several foreign countries taking part in the military event.
Outside the building, an eternal flame burns for those New Mexicans who did not survive the march or the Japanese POW camps. Monsters and Critics www. World War II lasted nearly four years. During that time over 50, New Mexicans served in the armed forces. They saw action against not only Japan, but also Germany and Italy. One group from New Mexico and Arizona played a special role. These were the Navajo Code Talkers. The Marine Corps needed a way to send messages quickly by radio.
They used Navajo Marines to do this. In the early days after Pearl Harbor, Corregidor, and a series of naval disasters, not only did the Japanese have superior arms, position, and equipment, they were breaking our tightest communication codes with disastrous results for the American Armed forces. By the time Carl Gorman Sr. Gorman, New Mexico had reached the Marine recruiting station at Fort Defiance, a plan had already been developed that would involve him personally in one of the most important secret operations in American military history.
It was to be the creation of a military code for combat and invasion purposes that the enemy would never break. The men destined for the assignment were Navajos. Ironically, it was a white man who presented the idea for this invulnerable code.
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He proposed his idea to the Marine top brass at Camp Elliott in California. At first they thought he was insane. No cryptography, no code machines. Only a Navajo sender at one end and a Navajo receiver at the other, who translated the message into English, and it worked! The Japanese were already on Guadalcanal in the summer of , breaking all the American codes.
From Marine headquarters, a guarded authorization went out for a pilot test group of thirty Navajos to develop the new code. Recruits had to be found at once who spoke Navajo and English well. The recruits came from the reservation boarding schools and from far-away hogans, too. Most had never gone more than a few miles from their native homes, and some were so young they forged their age to enlist. All were inducted at Fort Wingate, New Mexico. They had no knowledge as yet of the true nature of their mission.
All they were told was that they were in special service. There were twenty-nine including Carl Gorman taken by train through the night to Camp Elliott in California. A whole assortment of military words had to be invented for translation into Navajo. It became an exciting game, as they went on to search for the appropriate word. The Navajo recruits were required to memorize the hundreds of words and phrases, most of them foreign to their own basic culture.
Gorman explained the speed with which the Navajo boys were learning. We have no written language. It is part of our training. The Japanese never broke the code. Many marines owed their lives to the speedy messages sent in Navajo. This happened because of the value that the code still had. This is how secure this code was. It still was not broken during these wars.
It also shows how much confidence that the military had in this system of coding. The code was finally declassified in as electronic equipment was developed. Our New Mexico Calvin A.