Stopping by Abiquiu


For the last two days I have been based in Abiquiu where I met a variety of locals who were really open in sharing some of their personal memories and how these fit into the wider narrative of Abiquiu and its complex history. Abiquiu was the place from where Antonio Armijo´s expedition across the Old Spanish Trail started on the 7th November of 1829.

It is believed that this area was populated by Native Americans since the eleven century.  The first Spanish settlers established here during the first half of the eighteen century, although sometimes they had to abandon their land grants because of the continuous raids made by nomadic Native Americans.  Spanish Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín made a historic decision in 1754 by granting a `pueblo league´to 34 Genizaro families, hoping that these families could establish a defensive position to protect the Hispanic communities from other attacks, as Cachupín believed that they were the best Indian fighters. When peace finally came to the area the Pueblo became an important trading center for a large area of the Southwest. The Genizaros of Abiquiu were of mixed descent including Hopi, Plains Indians and Pueblo that were raised within the Hispanic culture, speaking Spanish and being Christianised. They were considered an Indian pueblo by the Spanish and the Mexican governments, but today, still many residents believe that a portion of their identity was overlooked when they were recognised by the United States government as an Hispanic community rather than as a Native American pueblo.

With David Lopez Pueblo Historian

I had the opportunity to interview Pueblo Historian, David López, who gave us an enriching tour around Abiquiu and explained some of the most relevant events in the area. I will be posting his interview soon.

A contemporary approach to a traditional art form

Jean Anaya is a Galisteo based artist that works mainly with the technique of Straw Applique, reinterpreting traditional Hispanic religious imagery using natural pigments and traditional materials.

Jean is part of the Spanish Market, and event that every year showcases in Santa Fe the creations of artists with at least 1/4 of Spanish descendent.

In this interview she talks about how her time in Galisteo and the evolution of Straw Applique in New Mexico.

Promoting Spanish heritage in the community

After studying her genealogy Socorro Vigil has learnt that her ancestors came to New Mexico with Juan de Oñate in 1598 and with Diego de Vargas in 1692.

She remembers that her parents didn´t want to forget their cultural heritage so they taught their children the family traditions and the Spanish language.

Socorro was honoured with the Orden de la Reina Isabel la Católica because of her work as an Ambassador of the Spanish legacy in the USA. She also belongs to the women association, Sociedad Folklórica, a collective that promotes traditional dances to younger generations.

A chat at the hairdresser (in Spanish)

Faustino lives in a small pueblo on the way to Las Vegas (NM) and he drives 41 miles every day to open his studio in Santa Fe. He is a unique character and at just 78 years young, he combines his two creative passions from his small studio located at the Santa Fe Village. Faustino has been cutting hair all his life and in Santa Fe is a well known hairdresser who uses the razor as his main tool. But twenty years ago, a conversation with an guy from New York who was having his hair cut, inspired Faustino to explore art. He is a self-taught artist who for over two decades has painted the traditional churches found all around New Mexico. In this interview (in Spanish) Faustino narrates some of the main events that influenced his life.  


In downtown Santa Fe

Photo by Matt Wright
After meeting with Faustino Herrera de Vargas, a local artist who has painted over 700 churches around New Mexico, I felt compelled to visit the Cathedral downtown.
Located near the plaza, Saint Francis of Assisi is one of Santa Fe´s key landmarks. Santa Fe is considered the oldest state capital in the USA as it was founded in 1610, the same year its first church was built. The original adobe church was replaced years later by a newer construction that was damaged during the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680. It wasn’t until few years later when the spaniards had already returned to New Mexico that the new church was rebuilt.
The small adobe chapel dedicated to La Conquistadora, the statue that arrived to the new world in 1625 with the first settlers, still remains within the Cathedral. La Conquistadora is considered to be the best dressed woman of Santa Fe as she has more than 200 outfits that have been made by volunteers as a sign of devotion.

Passion for the past

Today it was my third day visiting Santa Fe. I walked around the plaza and I visited some of the Spanish descendants that I met in previous travels. I also had the opportunity to enjoy a beautifully prepared lunch with Alberto Gallegos, Honorary Consul of Spain in Santa Fe, and his wife, Annabel. Alberto is a great resource on the history of the area and on the ties of the community with Spain. He has studied the history of his family reaching back almost six hundred years to discover that his ancestors came from the Villa de Riaza in Segovia, Spain. In this interview he talks about his passion for researching his genealogy and his links to Spain.