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22 • MAY 2019


Cultural Compadres “You mean there’s a ‘New’ Mexico?”


here are four American states whose names begin with “New.” New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and, of course, New Mexico. Of those, we are the only one that shares any identity with its namesake. Few Americans can even tell you for sure where or what York, Jersey or Hampshire are. York is a town in Pennsylva-

nia, and Jersey has been co-opted by citizens as the standard, dropping the “New” in common conversation, making it the only state that goes by its last name. “You from Jersey? I’m from Jersey.” “Oh yeah, what exit?” Not only does New Mexico share a name with Mexico, it shares a border, many families, and a great deal of culture, even in ways you don’t often consider.

One of the popular NFL teams in New Mexico, at least southern New Mexico, is the Dallas Cowboys. Partly because of proximity and partly because the Cowboys had back-to-back Mexican kickers in the late 1970s – Efren Herrera and Rafael Septien – the Cowboys generated a big following in Mexico too. The month of May brings the one day of the year many Amer-

Sierra County Arts Council (SCAC) Sponsored Events – Summer/Fall 2019

Truth or Consequences, NM Hillsboro, NM Second Saturday Art Hop

monthly 6 – 9 pm Downtown Historic District Broadway & Main Streets

Monthly Open Mic

7pm, the last Friday of the month, Ingo’s Art Café, 422 Broadway

Monthly Movie Night

6pm, the 3rd Monday of the month, Ingo’s Art Café, 422 Broadway

Southwest Chamberwinds

5pm Sunday, Sept.29, Grapes Gallery 407-409 Main St.

Hillsboro Community Center, 316 Elenora St. $10 / $5 Seniors & SCAC members ( Sunday, May 19 – 3pm –5pm

Kitty Jo Creek Bluegrass Band Sunday, June 2 – 3pm – 5pm

Claude Bourbon

Classical Guitar

Kingston, NM

Black Range Lodge ( 575-895-5652

The Summer Starlight Concert Series

Outdoor concerts include a potluck starting at 5:30pm. Wine & beer will be available from Black Range Vineyards. $10 / $5 Seniors, children & SCAC members Saturday, June 15 - 7 - 9pm Randy Granger ( Acclaimed singer/songwriter performs with Native American flute, percussion, and guitar.

Pickamania 2019

Saturday, July 20 - 7 - 9pm

Community Benefit Concert - Enjoy a potluck sup-

per & the Best of Local Talent in support of the Hillsboro Historical Society ( Saturday, August 17 - 7 - 9pm

Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin ( Award-winning singer/songwriter Maring and virtuoso guitarist/fiddler Bowlin create mesmerizing music that blends bluegrass, folk and country.

Jeff Scroggins

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, September 13, 14 & 15 Pickamania 2019: Americana music and Apple Pie, with Bill Bussmann MC. Featuring Jeff Scroggins and Fresh Horses (, Peter McLaughlin ( plus favorite regional bands. Sunday, October 13 - 3pm-5pm

Desert Night Acoustic Music Camp Concert

Featuring The Hard Road Trio, instructors and talented student musicians. ( Sponsored by the Sierra County Arts Council P.0. Box 1924 Truth or Consequences, NM 87901 • 575.894.0615 • Paid for by Truth or Consequences Lodgers Tax.

icans try to be Mexican, Cinco de Mayo, which, interestingly, is not that big a deal in Mexico. Mexican descendants living in New Mexico and most border states have long practiced the tradition of the quinceañera. Lately, Dia de los Muertos has become increasingly popular among many cultures. Our relationship with Mexico, though, is more complicated than just enjoying corn tortillas and bottled Cokes. Humans have long had a habit for hierarchy and castes. No matter what group, culture or society we’re in, there is frequent desire to have another group, culture or society to look down upon. When the Spaniards came to New Mexico, they acted as though they were king, and looked down on everyone else. Then, when the Anglos came, they acted as they were king, ignoring the Spaniards’ claims, and looking down on everyone else. The Native Americans and the Mestizos (the blending of Spaniards and Natives) took the brunt of both the Spaniards’ and the Anglos’ empire-building natures. And when African-Americans arrived in New Mexico, they got the same sorry treatment here they got everywhere else. When I moved to New Mexico in 1995, I was aware of the different aspects of widely varied Latin cultures. The term “Hispanic” is insufficient and certainly not all-encompassing. But not until I arrived in New Mexico did I learn of the prejudice of many descendants of Spaniards against Mexicans. It is more common in northern New Mexico than in southern New Mexico, but families whose roots can be traced to the original Spanish colonists often want to make it crystal clear they are not Mexican. In more than one New Mexico bar, as recently as the 1970s, there hung signs that read: “No Indians, Mexicans or dogs.” In the last quarter century, tolerance and inclusion have increased in the Land of Enchantment. I have seen positive change on smaller scales, such as inter-family relationships, and on larger scales, such as the state’s recognition of same-sex marriage. When I run across listings of New Mexico boards or committees from, say, the 1970s, the names are predominantly Anglo. I look at listings from those same groups today, and usually there is a wide variety in the ethnicity of names. I have had children in New Mexico public schools since 1995, and on occasion have been in the classroom when the students recite the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag, followed by the beautiful salute to the New Mexico flag: “I salute the flag of the state of New Mexico, and the Zia symbol of perfect friendship among united cultures.” American culture, in many ways, is largely homogenous.

But the cultures seem more varied in New Mexico. I know I talk endlessly about the magic of green chile, but its rampant use is unique here, and it is one thing most of us agree on. We’ve long enjoyed our green chile in foods created by many cultures: New Mexican, Mexican, Native American and Anglo. Better still, we’ve got Italian chefs adding it to pastas and lasagna; Japanese chefs including it in sushi and teriyaki dishes; and TV foodies from all over coming here to sing the praises of the chile. Both of my daughters are multi-ethnic, though neither could find any direct Mexican ancestry. Still, they grew up aware of, and interested in, our namesake neighbor to the south. When I was growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, Mexico was called “Old Mexico.” I think New Mexico was still young enough back then people felt compelled to differentiate. It was particularly noted in my family, as my grandfather worked in New Mexico in the 1930s and early 40s, and my father was born in Hobbs. My second visit to Mexico, and the first non-resort visit, came in 1991, as a friend and I entered the country at Columbus, and spent some time well south of there. We were told at breakfast, by a Deming restaurateur, that the hassle at the border might not be worth it, but once you got to the interior, the Mexican people are “as good as gold.” The people we met were indeed good as gold. Societies and cultures are constantly changing, usually against the will of the established society members. Mexico has definitely changed in the past 50 years, as has our relationship with that country. The latest border issues, dealing more with people from Central America, will change the Mexican relationship more. Mexico itself, though, never has been and – I hope – never will be, anything but a neighbor and a friend, not only to New Mexico, but to the United States at large. Outsiders can come and get a glimpse of the bond between Mexico and New Mexico. But, just as with green chile, it’s harder for them to understand it being part of our daily lives. Richard Coltharp is publisher of Desert Exposure. He only believes in two conspiracy theories, and one is the Frito-Lay, Pace and Corona companies began building propaganda in the early 1990s to promote Cinco de Mayo to fill the U.S. party void between St. Patrick’s Day/spring break and endof-school/graduation. He can be reached at richard@

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Desert Exposure - May 2019  

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