Jews of New Mexico

Jewish history in New Mexico goes back, it has been argued, to the founding of the colony.  There is evidence that some contemporary New Mexican Hispanics may be descended from “Crypto-Jews” or Marranos.  These would have been Sephardic Jews during the 15th and 16th century who, under penalties of the inquisition, were forced to convert to Catholicism; yet still retained certain cultural markers of Jewish identity.

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM - First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM – First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Facing enormous consequences if caught, the “conversos” who chose to continue practicing Jewish rituals and identity found themselves forced to the edge of the Spanish Empire, or the New Mexican colonies of the Southwest.   Though the evidence is controversial, there have been both ethnographic and genetic pieces of evidence linking the latino culture of New Mexico with Jewish descent.  There are oral accounts of keeping practices like Kosher slaughter and celebration of the sabbath as well as DNA evidence.  One genetic study of 78 latino New Mexicans centering on Albuquerque found 30 displaying genetic markers associated with Jewish descent, markers found in only 1% of the general population.

Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe, NM

Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe, NM

The history of Ashkenazic Jews in New Mexico is more recent and less controversial.  Like many pioneers, they welcomed the opportunities present with the opening of the Southwest and the United States’ control over the New Mexico territory.  Trade routes that were oriented to Mexico and were zealously guarded by Spanish policy became disrupted as New Mexico began to orient itself with the greater American market and economy.

Jewish heritage places high values on learning and education, and with a propensity for business, these immigrants were able to grow in prominence in the mercantile trade.

Some of the Jewish families who responded to these opportunities were the Bibo family, ten siblings who immigrated to New Mexico during the 1870s.  Three of them started mercantile businesses.  Jewish traditions of helping out family and relatives led to increased immigration as Jews prospered and sent for their families back east.  The Spiegelberg family, for instance, was a major influence in the territorial economy.  Wili Spiegelberg was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Second National Bank of Santa Fe.  The Spiegelbergs provided work and welcome for many Jewish immigrants, employing several members of the Bibo family and welcoming their cousins, the Zeckendorfs, who opened several stores in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque. After the Civil War, however, business got tougher and the Zeckendorfs headed to Tucson and opened a store there. Eventually they migrated back to New York where they became successful real-estate developers. In the 1980s, Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf returned again to Santa Fe and became leading developers and patrons of the arts, instrumental in both  the growth of the Santa Fe Opera and the creation of the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Dear Friends of Joe Schepps

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Dear Friends of Joe Schepps

The Jewish community remains a vibrant one in Santa Fe and one which visitors can explore. During your next stay at the Inn, be sure to take a trip to the Santa Fe Opera House and the Lensic Performing Arts Center – two Santa Fe landmarks that exist today thanks to the hard work and dedication of my friends, the Zeckendorfs.

_________

Inn on the Alameda, That Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, proudly presents all historical blog posts written by Joe & Michael Schepps. Read about the authors here.

Joe’s Blog: Thanksgiving – A Day of Recognition of the Native Americans’ Invaluable Friendship

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Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Thanksgiving is a day usually filled with remembrances of smells of turkey and pumpkin pie, uncles and aunts, cousins, football and fall weather. But a review of the underlying history of Thanksgiving reveals a story that is far from the Norman Rockwell image of Dad carving a turkey at the dining room table in some imaginary New England home.

7b996853e96f19991cf882311958f365The real Thanksgiving celebration most likely only occurred once…and lasted three days. Neither turkey, nor potatoes, nor pumpkin pie were on the menu, but waterfowl and venison were – oh, and unsweetened cranberries (as no sugar was yet available in New England). This Thanksgiving was a very appropriate one. The first English pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 with hardly any survival skills suited to their new land. Most died during that first winter from starvation and exposure to the elements. 1622 proved no different; in fact, it wasn’t until 1623 that the harvests became more reliable and bountiful. If it were not for a sole Patuxet Native named Squanto, colonization would likely have been set back by decades.

To paint a more balanced picture than Norman Rockwell’s, it is rarely mentioned that in 1614, English explorers initially returned to England in ships loaded with as many as 500 Patuxet Indian slaves bound for market. This was the hapless tribe that happened to be at ground zero of these European explorers’ arrival. Later, when New England’s first settlers arrived, only one Patuxet remained alive, English-speaking Squanto, who had survived slavery in England and returned later to New England thanks to the graces of a befriended Englishman. During the first two horrible years of near starvation, the Pilgrims were taught by Squanto and the neighboring Wampanoaga people how to grow corn and to survive in this new land. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty for the Pilgrims with the nearby and very large Wampanoaga tribe. At the end of the hardships of the first year, there indeed was a 3-day Thanksgiving feast honoring Squanto and their new neighbors, the Wampanoagas, but in reality the harvest was meager and there was little to eat that winter following this thanksgiving.

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Despite the continual hardship, the word spread throughout England of this newly found “paradise” in America, so countless new settlers arrived. And as always in such situations, when a more technologically superior people enter a less advanced peoples’ land, tensions increased between races until a state of war for survival arose. And such was the case with the New England Natives and the waves of land and freedom hungry colonists. Unfortunately, soon both governors and clergy began calling for days of thanksgiving following successful victories against the natives.

In 1789, President George Washington called for “ a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favours of God Almighty”. In 1863, during the Civil War, to foster a sense of national unity, Abraham Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. FDR in 1939 set the date as the 4th Thursday of November to add additional economic energy prior to Xmas, and hence the term Black Friday was probably coined, commemorating the day when retailers went from being in the red to being in the black. Our consumer driven culture solidified over the 20th century the iconic foods, settings, and modern traditions of our national holiday.

Now with the history under our soon-to-be straining belts, how better to celebrate Thanksgiving than coming to the land of the ancient Pueblos who had already been in existence for hundreds of years prior to the English explorers’ arrival on this continent?

The Inn on the Alameda’s restaurant, the Agoyo Lounge, traditionally prepares a “reservations-recommended” Thanksgiving dinner for guests and locals alike. We cook up a unique and special menu, which you can view on our website. Please join us around the fires to enjoy a day of thanksgiving for living in one of the greatest countries in the world and certainly enjoying it in one of the greatest and most unique cities in the world.

Mike’s Blog: THE GETTYSBURG OF THE WEST | THE BATTLE AT GLORIETA PASS – Part 2

THE CONFEDERATE FLAG FLIES OVER SANTA FE

Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) - sourced from The Library of Congress

Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) – sourced from The Library of Congress

Sibley reached Santa Fe on March 13, 1862 (having set out from Texas on February 23, but not before the Union had destroyed the town’s supplies).  The Confederate’s New Mexico campaign that was meant to rely on speed and captured provisions was finding itself bogged down and low on supplies.

Sibley and his forces were now caught between Canby in the south and fresh Union reinforcements to the north.

Taking the offensive, Sibley went out from Santa Fe to attack the Union forces in a fierce battle. Unfortunately for Old Dixie, the Confederates had left behind their remaining military provisions for safekeeping.

Alvin Jewett Johnson's map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War

Alvin Jewett Johnson’s map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War

Following a small skirmish on March 26, both sides waited for reinforcements to arrive and they joined in battle once again on the 28th.  Fierce fighting and aggressive maneuvering led the Confederate forces to advance further than expected.  The Confederates took the Union positions in heavy fighting.  Thankfully for the Yankees, a New Mexican scout by the name of Anastasio Duran led a small force of scouts behind Confederate lines. While the larger battle was taking place, Duran discovered the Confederate supply train. Returning to the Union lines with the news, US troops led by Duran, attacked the Rebel supply train.

It was this attack that turned the tide of battle. 

The supplies were captured with little resistance.  Eighty wagons, loaded with provisions and ammunition with which the Rebels still intended to fuel their campaign, were looted then sent ablaze.  The auxiliary artillery was spiked and over 500 of the Confederate horses and mules were either killed or driven off.  Alerted by the smoke of the burning wagon train, the Confederates were forced to return to Santa Fe. The loss of these supplies and material would prove devastating to the Confederates.  Sibley pulled the remaining troops back to Albuquerque, in the hopes of reinforcements arriving from Texas.

Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee

Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee

By mid-April the Union forces had begun to converge and Sibley decided to retreat.

Confederate control of the northern part of New Mexico had lasted a mere two months.  Union soldiers were dispatched throughout the New Mexico territory and the New Mexico Campaign and the Confederate attempt on the West came to an end. A simple accounting of the Battle of Glorieta Pass belies its importance in the American Civil War.  By closing the door to the West and halting the Confederate advance, The United States was able to concentrate on the war in the South and East, while the rich resources of the Western Territories helped bankroll the delayed, yet successful victory 3 years later.

Many civil war elements remain in Santa Fe today.  The New Mexico History Museum is a few minutes’ walk from the Inn and provides many resources to assist in understanding the campaign.  Glorieta Pass is only 40 minutes from the Inn along a scenic drive, and the battlefield includes an interpretative center as well as a bounty of historical information. 

 

Cooking Up Santa Fe Flavor

The Santa Fe School of Cooking is located at 116 West San Francisco Street , Santa Fe, NM  1-800-982-4688 or 505-983-4511 On Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SantaFeSchoolofCooking?sk=wall

When people think of Santa Fe, frequently the first thing they think of is the food. And with good reason! While both chile and beans may be ingredients in regional food around the world, our New Mexico cuisine is definitely like no other. Once you’ve tasted it, you’re hooked, and the next logical step is learning how to bring it all back home with you. And no one in Santa Fe has done more to help foodies bring the taste of Santa Fe to the home kitchen than Susan Curtis, founder of the Santa Fe School of Cooking and her daughters, Nicole Curtis Ammerman, currently managing the school, and Kristen Curtis Krell, who runs the team-building unit, Cookin’ Up Change. The Authentic Guide took some time this week to speak with Susan and Nicole about the school’s 20 years of sharing the flavor of Santa Fe.

Nicole Curtis Ammerman

Susan Curtis

How did the Santa Fe School of Cooking come into being, and what were the early years like?

Susan Curtis: The birth of the cooking school was the result of a SERIOUS midlife crisis. My last child was going off to college and what was I to do with the rest of my life? The early years were terrifying, but determination carried me through.

Since 1989, the Santa Fe School of Cooking has been whipping up a delicious experience for travelers in search of spicy tastes. Ever wanted to take a relleno and replace that gooey cheese filling with something new? You can learn! Perhaps the sustainable cooking traditions of the Native American culture intrigue you; if so, time in the kitchen with Lois Ellen Frank should be on your agenda. With classes that range from tasty home-made tortillas all the way to a lime-marinated salmon, the schedule has something to offer to both novices and experienced home chefs.

What are some of the most popular recipes the school has prepared through the years?

Nicole Ammerman: Our most popular recipes are the really authentic traditional New Mexican ones, such as our carne adovada, chiles rellenos and our red and green chile sauces. We also do a smoked pork tenderloin with an apple pinon chutney that is fantastic!

MMMMM...Chicken Enchiladas!

Were you surprised that both your daughters have kept the cooking flame (pun intended) burning in their lives?

Susan: No, I would have been surprised if they did not make food an important part of their lives.  I grew up on a ranch where we raised and aged our meats (pork, beef, sheep), raised chickens, had a dairy farm, and planted a huge garden. I knew where food came. As a result, good food has always been important to our family both at home an in our travels.

After you “put on the apron” to lead the school, Nicole, what new ideas excited you the most?

Nicole: I have had a really fantastic time in the last 5 years implementing some fun new programs. I started running the Restaurant Walking Tours five years ago. The concept is that one of our chefs leads a tour on foot through downtown Santa Fe to visit four different restaurants where you meet the chef and taste some of the food that is made especially for our group. Our guests spend the afternoon eating, drinking and meeting some of Santa Fe’s top chefs….how can you beat that? We now have four different routes, so we are working with 16 of Santa Fe’s top restaurants!

Walking - and Eating - Your Way Through Santa Fe

As a veteran of the walking tour, I have to say that this is an excellent way to encounter some of the best Santa Fe restaurants without having to dine at each one individually, especially if your schedule only permits a short Santa Fe getaway. The tour literally gives you fodder for dining choices on your inevitable return visit to Santa Fe. For those with three nights to stay, the Inn’s Taste the City Different package combines the walking tour and a demonstration class into a culinary double-header. If a two-day hop is all you have time for, our Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience can give you a taste of what’s cooking in Santa Fe.

Can you describe an event at SFSoC that was even more perfect than you hoped? Or one that simply did not go as planned?

Susan: I really can’t think of one event. I am so deeply grateful that the school has been so popular and made so many people enjoy our  local food and culture. On a funny note, one of the most memorable experiences was when somehow salt got placed in the sugar container, and our dessert was made with salt rather than sugar. The reaction by our guests was as you might expect.

A Chile Amor Class at the School

What are the hottest- (again, pun intended) selling items in the market store?

Nicole: We pride ourselves on selling the finest quality chiles and herbs. They are the same ones we use in the classes….so they are great and a lot of interesting varieties. We also really promote local New Mexican farms and products, so we sell lots of posole, blue corn meal and specialty food products. Also, the black clay cookware is so beautiful and functional, and we can’t keep those in stock!

The  Santa Fe School of Cooking has always included supporting local, New Mexican businesses at the core of its mission. From the wild-crafted herbs available at the School’s Market to the sell-out Santa Fe Farmers Market classes, visitors will always find new paths to discovering New Mexico’s unique culinary traditions. The beautiful black cookware is oven to table – no surprise that it is often out of stock!

What adult beverages complement our spicy cuisine?

Susan: I like margaritas and wine that is not too dry with spicy food.

One of the school’s good friends is Dan Murray of Southern Wines and Spirits. For white wine lovers, he recommends a German Riesling such as J.J. Prum or Urban-Ohff or an Oregon Pinot Gris such as Bethel Heights.  Red wine fans should simply seek out a Beaujolais. For those who have a margarita in their sights, Dan suggests Chamucos Blanco for a smoother taste or the Reposado for more tequila flavor and bite.

As a working mother, what’s your go-to menu for the kids after a work-day already spent in the kitchen, so to speak?

Nicole: I will admit that I am not very creative  with my dinners at home, but my kids don’t really like their food “mixed’ with any other ingredients. So lots of roasted chicken, broccoli, rice and pasta. I do really pride myself on how healthy my family eats.  My kids have never had fast food. No matter how tired I am, I always get a healthy dinner on the table for us!

If you could meet one famous chef, living or dead, who would it be why?

Susan: Julia Child, however, I did meet her at an IACP conference. I was speechless I was so intimidated.

If you could eat at one fabulous five-star restaurant, anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?

Nicole: The Thomas Keller restaurant,  French Laundry in Yountville, CA – wine country! I think I must be the only person I know in the food biz that hasn’t eaten there….and I have heard people I know say it was the best meal of their lives!

Private Dining at the French Laundry, Yountville, CA

The New Mexico state question: Red or green, and where?

Nicole: Christmas, of course!  I like the green chile at The Guadalupe Café and the red chile at Atrisco!

Susan: I love both red and green. I ALWAYS stick with red at the Shed and green — there is a little road side take out place in Embudo called Sugars. They have the best green chile burrito that I have ever had.

Both the Shed and the Guadalupe Cafe are withing walking distance of the Inn, and our Front Desk can give easy directions to Atrisco and the village of Embudo, in northern New Mexico.

Red Chile - We Love it!

Green Chile - Hotter than It Looks!

Drooling yet? We are! Food talk always gets the juices going, so if you’re intrigued, check the Inn’s website for more information about either of our two cooking school adventures. And be sure to say “buen provecho” to our friends at the one and only Santa Fe School of Cooking!

Photos from the Santa Fe School of Cooking by Eric Swanson, all rights reserved.

Photo of the French Laundry, courtesy of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, all rights reserved.

A Santa Fe Guy, A Santa Fe Gala

The Lensic Performing Arts Center at 211 West San Francisco Street  celebrates a 10th Anniversary Gala on April 16, 2011

 

The Lensic We Love

The admiring glances seen every time we attend a performance event at the Lensic Performing Arts Center are a reminder that this jewel in the heart of town is not only still alive and active but is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year! So often, great local gems slip quietly and inexorably into disrepair before we realize what is being lost. What good fortune for the city of Santa Fe that a dedicated group of local folk put their minds, money and muscle to ensuring a future for this architectural and historical treasure. And as the renovation was about to begin, one of the excellent decisions that ensued was the hiring of Robert Martin as the Director of the Lensic.

Bob Martin, Executive Director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center

With this gala year and the upcoming celebration, we asked Bob Martin for a bit of his time to help our guests become acquainted with all that the Lensic brings to the City Different. Despite the many demands involved in creating this anniversary party, Bob graciously complied with the questions we posed.

  • How long have you been with the Lensic, and how did you find your way there?

I have been at the Lensic 11 years. I came two months before the renovation begin in April 2000. Sue Weil, who I knew in Los Angeles, connected me up with Merrill Brockway who was helping Nancy Zeckendorf find a director.

For those who need more history on the contributions of Ms. Zeckendorf et al, there’s more about the history of the Lensic in this earlier post https://www.innonthealameda.com/the-authentic-guide-to-santa-fe/2011/01/santa-fe-lucky-to-have-the-lensic/

  • In lieu of the usual “Top Ten” list, can you please name some favorite events performed at the Lensic on your watch?

The Los Alamos Project reading; The Laramie Project:10 Years Later; Sonny Rollins at the New Mexico Jazz Festival;  Terry Allen, David Byrne and Emmylou Harris in a benefit concert for Landmine Free World; Eddie Izzard; and Children of Uganda.

For a city of less than 100K residents, this is an impressive and varied list of visiting artists, which should prove enticing for those who have not yet enjoyed a concert, reading or dance performance at the Lensic!

Eddie Izzard, Works in Progress

  • Can you name a community outreach event at the Lensic that has been personally meaningful for you?

That’s hard to pick. I really believe in the importance of all of them.

Guess that this question was akin to asking a parent to name a favorite child; sorry, Bob!

  • What one performer have you always wanted to see at the Lensic, but who has eluded you?

Bob Dylan

Mr. Martin should not feel alone; the movie that tells a similar elusive tale is entitled I’m Not There http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368794/

  • What performer, living or deceased, would you like to meet and why?

Zero Mostel and Bert Lahr, because I just thought of them.

Zero Mostel as The Fiddler on the Roof

The One and Only Bert Lahr

  • Is there a staff member at the Lensic whose job you secretly envy?

Not really.

Job satisfaction is a great quality in a community leader!

  • What would you like to see happen for the Lensic over the next ten years?

To maintain excellence in programming, to continue taking chances and commitment to community. To be recognized nationally as a model for performing arts centers.

Under Bob Martin’s stewardship, the Lensic is definitely on its way towards these goals, especially with the launch of its $3 Million Fund the Future Campaign to ensure the legacy of performance, education and community events for generations to come.

  • As befits all New Mexicans, the state question, red or green? And where?

Green at Tia Sophias.

 

Everyone has a Favorite Place – and Color – for Chile!

The 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration commemorating the creation of the nonprofit Lensic Performing Arts Center, along with the 80th birthday of the historic Lensic Theater itself, begins on Saturday, April 16 at 5pm. A champagne reception taking place in the Lensic Lobby will precede the performance. This memorable occasion will also honor Santa Feans Nancy and Bill Zeckendorf, who spearheaded the effort to create the performing arts center that has become so integral to the arts community of Santa Fe. Performances by members of the Santa Fe Concert Association, Santa Fe Pro Musica and Santa Fe Symphony will be enhanced when the directors of each group conduct pieces played by this specially organized “Lensic Ensemble.” The Gala will also feature students from the Santa Fe Indian School and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, and a film retrospective of the Lensic and its history will be screened.

We extend our sincere thanks to Bob Martin, for sharing some of his time and thoughts with us and for his energy and devotion to ensuring that the Lensic Performing Arts Center endures as a vital part of the cultural life of our city!

If you would like to be part of  this important Santa Fe celebration, please call the Lensic Box Office at 505-988-1234 or visit their website at http://www.lensic.org/content/lensic_anniversary.

Lensic Center photos courtesy of the Lensic; all rights reserved.

Santa Fe Open House at IAIA

The Institute of American Indian Arts is located at 83 Avan Nu Po Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe

While many cities can boast an art school or two, Santa Fe has unusual bragging rights by virtue of having an institute for indigenous artists! Students at the Institute of American Indian Arts (commonly known as IAIA) have  the opportunity to partake in an eclectic learning experience in a distinctive Native-centered environment. Faculty and staff, comprised of both native and non-native individuals, provide nurturing support, professional training and positive role models for native students embarking on new endeavors. By opening its doors to the community recently for an afternoon open house, IAIA gave locals and visitors the time to see how this dedicated educational institution fulfills its mission, as stated  here: “To empower creativity and leadership in Native arts and cultures through higher education, lifelong learning and outreach.”

The Institute of American Indian Arts was funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and first opened in October of 1962 on the campus of the Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Under its first Superintendent, Dr. George A. Boyce, the Institute embodied a bold approach to arts education and has evolved through the decades into a leadership role in the contemporary Native American art world. The Institute was later housed on the College of Santa Fe campus before settling it on its expansive new campus about ten years ago. A total of 80 tribes from 25 states are represented in the student body of this multi-tribal learning center, which provides a bridge between a past rich with tradition and the dynamic American Indian culture of the new millennium.

Sculptural Landscaping

IAIA offers four-year degrees in Studio Arts, Visual Communication, Creative Writing and Museum Studies, and it is uniquely qualified to offer students a foundation from which to build new forms of artistic expression and accomplishment, while guiding them into maturity as proud representatives of their culture and participating citizens of the world. The college promotes Native leadership and offers an ecologically-sound atmosphere that allows students to explore their culture and artistic heritage in a supportive and understanding environment. A place where the spirit and vision of American Indian and Alaska Native people is the number one priority, IAIA honors the traditions of the past, continually being rediscovered and reaffirmed, while giving students the freedom to celebrate their artistic identity in new ways, helped by its affiliation with the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts.

Paying Attention to the Southwest

The curriculum at the Institute is geared towards a comprehensive integration of the arts into a college program of study that graduates Native students prepared to juggle the artist’s life with the more mundane aspects of everyday reality. The Creative Writing Dept. holds a prominent place at the College, and students come from reservations and pueblos, cities large and small, to study with nationally and internationally-known working writers. A Studio Arts Department, divided into five areas of focus (painting, photography, ceramics, jewelry/metals, and sculpture), delivers foundational art classes leading to the College’s AFA and BFA degrees. The newer arts are not neglected, since a comprehensive program is in place to teach digital media students the evolutionary principles of  new media, as they study the history and theory of graphic design, film and the ongoing evolution of story-telling.

In recognition of the role Native arts have played for thousands of years, IAIA is home to the only museum studies program designed from a Native American perspective. Experienced museum professionals lead the College’s hands-on, experiential program with courses addressing the cultural history of exhibition, curation, conservation, collections and museums themselves.

A Re-Imagined Image from the Past

The Indigenous Studies Program prepares students who desire the broad education that the liberal arts provide. Students are taught to master competencies in critical thinking, research and writing, with  courses in culturally-based anthropology, policy, traditional arts, art history and Native American studies. An Essential Studies Program provides a solid undergraduate education in English, math and science, as well as a grounding in the strategies necessary for success in college and life in the wide world beyond the reservation or pueblo. The Native Eyes indigenous studies program offers accredited online courses, and the Center for Lifelong Learning is onsite to coordinate tribal outreach services. To address to the specific health concerns of Native peoples, a Fitness and Wellness Dept. schedules classes to help students develop healthier lifestyles through education and experience.

The open house was held on a Friday afternoon, with the glorious autumn Santa Fe weather offering blue skies, warmth and sunshine even in November. Visitors could take a guided tour or wander at will around the beautiful and state-of-the-art campus located on the southwestern edge of Santa Fe. The feeling was genuinely welcoming, with students and faculty alike proud and eager to demonstrate the worth of the program.

Native Stickball

Native Stickball Equipment

The striking campus buildings were laced with attractive landscaping and sculptures, and on a large circular center lawn, a fierce game of Native stickball, a full contact sport that is the ancestor of lacrosse, was taking place. Student housing comes in the form of dorms and apartment-style homes for students who come with families. An outdoor cooking area promised a tasty potential for adventurous picnicking, although I didn’t notice an horno.

Mark Herndon in the Jewelry Studio

Painting Demonstration by Charlene Teters

Tours of the classrooms offered ongoing demonstrations by faculty, and visitors were free to roam through the halls, which were liberally hung with student works. Equipment in studio art classrooms was up-to-date, and non-arts rooms were outfitted with computers galore. The museum conservation program showed  some serious chops, as Museum Studies Professor Jessie Ryker-Crawford demonstrated art polarizing microscope technology, letting visitors expand their understanding of the conservation concerns involved in maintaining two- and three-dimensional works of art.

Jessie-Ryker Crawford, Museum Studies Chair, in the Conservation Lab

An old-fashioned auditorium hosted a continuous screening of Native films, and the new digital dome, opened in October of this year, was designed to revolutionize the college’s fastest-growing degree program, new media arts. The 24-foot diameter, 12-foot high dome is the only one in the world to rotate from 0° to 90° views at 0°, 30°, 45° and 90°. With an 8,000-pound steel exoskeleton and an immersive environment featuring a surround sound system with six film projectors, it will be used to explore science, Native storytelling and art.

Untitled Painting by Collestopher Chatto, Dine Student

A student-run gallery offered an exhibition of student works for sale at very reasonable prices, but it a definite improvement would be realized by painting the gallery walls white to let the artwork shine! A gentle and friendly librarian encouraged visitors to browse the stacks in the expansive, peaceful and thoughtfully LEED-built library, with intelligent-sensor lighting, recycled carpeting and a treasure trove of books, all enhanced with a terrific Geronimo sculpture by Bob Haozous. And our transit back to the car led us by nose to the student cafeteria where locals can come and feast for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The IAIA Library with Geronimo Keeping Watch

Yet another distinctive feature of our City Different, the Institute of American Indian Arts lends authenticity and merit to the artistic reputation of Santa Fe, helping Native youth lead the way into this new millenium. We are genuinely grateful to have IAIA in our midst!

Native America Builds for the 21st Century