Compelling Narratives

By Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager




While the Jemez and Coronado Historic Sites are focused primarily on the preservation and interpretation of ancestral Pueblo villages, the staff is also tasked with providing information on all aspects of Spanish history. Specifically, the Historic Sites focus on the impacts of Spanish conquest and colonialism on the Native American peoples.

Written texts, especially primary sources, can inform upon the Spanish discovery, conquest, and colonization of the New World. A primary source is a letter, diary, manuscript, autobiography, or a recording that was created at the time under study. Often these primary sources are a subjective look at the events that took place through the author’s eyes. They reveal a great deal not just about a particular event, but about the background, motivations, and mindset of the individual writing the account.

Here are five primary sources readily available to the public which provide a great deal of insight into the history of Spanish America and the impact conquistadors and colonists had on the indigenous populations:

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Looking Back & Moving Forward: The Northern Region of New Mexico Historic Sites

By Matthew Barbour


Photo Patrick Moore.

Jemez Historic Site Light Among the Ruins.


The Northern Region of New Mexico Historic Sites includes: Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites. Coronado Historic Site was opened preserve the ancient village of Kuaua and to interpret the Coronado Expedition, while Jemez was established to preserve and interpret San Jose de los Jemez Mission and Giusewa Pueblo. They are two of the five original State Monuments established in 1935, the others being Abo, Quarai, and Pecos. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Register of Cultural Properties. On October 16, 2012, Jemez Historic Site was also designated a National Historic Landmark.

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Ranger Ethan Ortega is now the Historic Site Instructional Coordinator

By Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager


After an exhaustive search, New Mexico Historic Sites is pleased to announce that one of its own, Ranger Ethan Ortega, has been selected as the new Instructional Coordinator. He replaces Instructional Coordinator Sharon Walker who departed Coronado Historic Site on June 15. During her relatively brief two-year tenure, Ms. Walker visited over 50 public schools and published 11 lesson plans utilizing Common Core State Standards for literacy.

The role, as envisioned for Mr. Ortega, is quite a bit different from the one Ms. Walker held. He will not only service Coronado Historic Site, but the entire Northern Region of New Mexico Historic Sites. It will include duties both at Jemez and Los Luceros (situated in Acalde, New Mexico). Mr. Ortega will work in tandem with Jemez Instructional Coordinator Marlon Magdalena on public outreach and digital media promoting the sites. However, Coordinator Ortega’s primary role –at least initially- will be on re-imagining the exhibits at Jemez Historic Site.

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Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest: the Lama Foundation



Join the New Mexico History Museum every second Saturday of the month from June 2017-February 2018 for a presentation and conversation-style gallery talk in conjunction with the current exhibit, Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest.

Siddiq Hans von Briesen, the brother of Lama Foundation cofounder Barbara Durkee, was an early communard at Lama. Von Briesen will speak about the commune’s evolution over its fifty years.

Lama Foundation sits in a forested area at 8,800 feet on the western aspect of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range north of Taos, New Mexico. In 1967 local artist Herman “the hermit” Rednick found a piece of land with a natural spring and encouraged Steve and Barbara Durkee and Jonathan Altman to establish their alternative-living effort there. The Durkees had been living in Garnerville, New York, where their social circle of artists had become known for psychedelic light shows and experiments with LSD. Drawn to nature, the two ventured to the Southwest in search of an idyllic place to situate a new commune. Shortly after founding Lama, they imposed a rule forbidding the use of illegal drugs on the property. As a result, some original numbers decamped immediately. Gradually the commune flourished as the residents constructed uniquely impressive buildings and devoted themselves to spiritual practice from every persuasion. Lama Foundation is one of very few of the communes that remain in the northern Rio Grande Watershed.

Points Through Time 


Projectile points are one of the most iconic images of archaeology in the American Southwest. This exhibition focuses on some of the projectile points that are commonly found here in New Mexico from Paleoindian times (13,500 years ago), through the Archaic, and into Puebloan times (1,260 to 110 years ago) as well as some of the exotic points that have come to New Mexico from California and Texas.

The exhibit discusses how archaeologists classify points, why they change through time, and how illegal collection of points can impact the archaeological record.

This exhibit opens on International Archaeology Day on Saturday October 21, 2017 at the Center for New Mexico Archaeology (7 Old Cochiti Road).

The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on holidays running from now through Oct 1, 2018 

For more information, contact Andy Albertson at 476-1271 or


New Archaeological Report on Jemez Historic Site Available Now

By Matthew J. Barbour


Rooms excavated at Jemez Historic Site in 1965, photo courtesy of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture-Laboratory of Anthropology.

Giusewa: Laurens C. Hammack’s 1965 Excavations for the Visitor Center Water Line at Jemez Historic Site, Sandoval County, New Mexico, by Regge N. Wiseman, was published October 13 by the Archaeological Society of New Mexico. The report details the excavation of six rooms at Giusewa Pueblo. These rooms were occupied by the Jemez people during the seventeenth century and revealed a plethora of artifacts and features associated with pueblo life under the Franciscan Mission of San Jose.

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A Legacy of Brutality

By Matthew J. Barbour


Spaniard feeding children to dogs by Theodor de Bry. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Pivotal to any discussion of Spanish Colonial efforts in the New World is the notion of the “black legend.” Some historians believe that the Spanish are given a bad rap, both by their contemporaries and modern society. They believe the accusations of cannibalism, genocide, and torture made against the Spanish during the 16th and 17th centuries were false or, if not false, isolated incidents promoted and popularized by their rivals.

This is simply not the case. The discovery and colonization of the New World was a brutal affair. While the Spanish were not alone in committing atrocities against Native American peoples, these activities cannot be excused or ignored. The Spanish often wrote of their involvement and justified their actions.

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Digging into the Past at Kuaua

By Ethan O. Ortega, Ranger and Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager


Arrowhead uncovered at Coronado Historic Site, photo by Ethan Ortega.

This summer Coronado Historic Site, the Office of Archaeological Studies, and the Friends of Coronado Historic Site organized a joint effort to perform the first ever comprehensive survey and test excavations of Coronado Historic Site. Entitled “Dig Kuaua,” the project utilized over seventy-five local volunteers and allowed visitors to get close to real archaeology.

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Rio Puerco Valley Stories (and Ghosts)


Nasario Garcia.

On Oct 5, 2017 between 6 p.m. and 8p.m. at the New Mexico History Museum acclaimed folklorist Nasario García returns to the now abandoned villages of his youth in New Mexico’s Río Puerco valley to revive stories and ghosts in a landscape that also remembers him.

There will be a brief presentation before the screening and a Q&A after the screening.

In addition, the film will be broadcast on New Mexico PBS on October 12 at 7pm.


see a trailer at

Friends of the Library Fundraiser and Annual Membership Tea

Friends of the Library Fundraiser and Annual Membership Tea will take place On September 24th in the Village Conference Room at 2 p.m. and will feature a presentation by Matthew Barbour, DCA, Regional Manager for Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites on Native American Conquistadors:  The Mesoamerican Conquest of the New World.
Please join us for this wonderful presentation and celebration.  Tea and refreshments will be served afterwards.

The Many Cultures of Conquest

 By Matthew J. Barbour


Photo by Matthew Barbour.

Ranger Ortega works on installing new Indios Amigos display at Coronado Historic Site. 

Since opening in 1940, Coronado Historic Site has interpreted the impacts of the Coronado Expedition on the discovery and colonization of New Mexico. The core exhibit begins with an overview of Pueblo life followed by the arrival of the “Spanish” in 1540 and later settlement. These “Spanish” are projected as being of Western European descent and of the Catholic faith, but were they?

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 Looking Beyond the Oxymoronic Past of Coronado Historic Site through Field Work


Photo: Shelley Thompson

Coronado Historic Site Ranger/Researcher Ethan Ortega accepts prestigious Cordell-Powers Prize at 2017 Pecos Conference.  

Coronado Historic Site Researcher/Ranger Ethan Ortega was awarded first prize in the prestigious Cordell-Powers competition at the 2017 Pecos Conference for his research at Coronado Historic Site.

After proclaiming itself as the authority on Middle Rio Grande Pueblo culture and first European contact, the “facts” printed on monument panels are being rewritten.  Ranger Ortega’s presentation was entitled: False Truths, Restored Ruins, and New Artifacts: Looking Beyond the Oxymoronic Past of Coronado Historic Site through Field Work.

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New Mexico Culture Squared (NMC2) Presents Los Luceros FREE Harvest Festival

By Mary Ann Hatchitt 

Photo: NM Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Historic Los Luceros.

New Mexico Culture Squared (NMC2), a program of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, will present a Harvest Festival and a free outdoor concert at the Los Luceros Historic Site in Alcalde on Sunday, September 17, 2017 from 9:00AM to 3:00PM.

This FREE event includes a farmers’ market, apple harvest activities, cider-making, tours of the sites, serenaded tours of the orchard, many other family-friendly activities on the stunning Los Luceros Historic Property.  Musical entertainment will be provided Lone Piñon, an acoustic trio from New Mexico whose music celebrates their region’s cultural diversity.

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Ten Important Spanish Battles of the 16th Century

By Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager


Sack of Antwerp.

Most living in the United States and in Latin America recognize the military accomplishments of the Spanish conquistadors.  Whether good or bad, these men triumphed over some amazing odds. However, these successes were part of a larger “golden age” in the 1500s during which the Spanish military triumphed over nearly every foe they encountered. Many of these events are overlooked today, but at the time had major political and cultural ramifications. Here are ten important Spanish battles of the sixteenth century.

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The Planned Destruction of the Nation’s Past, Present and Future

By R.W.

Photo by Laurascudder – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Monarch Cave Ruin cliff dwelling on Comb Ridge

Fossil-fuel corporate polluters, represented by  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, are reaching their soiled, grasping mitts on vast areas of natural wonder that define this country, this continent, areas that hold  deep historic and cultural meaning as well as enduring habitats, endangered monuments to this country’s earliest human habitation , and also monuments to its natural diversity, linking our past and present, and linking a wide variety of biospheres.

President Donald Trump described the removal of secessionist war leaders statues as destroying  the nation’s history and culture. “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. So foolish! Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” he said.

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New MexicoTribes Receive $660,000 for Historic Preservation


U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt with the National Park Service today announced the distribution of $341,169 in historic preservation grants to New Mexico as well as $322,404 for historic preservation grants to eleven Tribal Historic Preservation Offices in the state. This funding, part of $25.5 million going to states and tribes across the country today, represents a total of$58 million that the National Park Service has invested in the preservation efforts to every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and partnering nations this year.

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Judith Isaacs Presents Rock Art of Utah

By Judith Isaacs
Many of you know that Southwest archaeology has been my hobby for many years. Starting in the 1980s, John and I hiked hundreds of miles to seek out Ancestral Puebloan ruins and rock art throughout the Four Corners, mostly in SE Utah. Please join me in the Jemez Springs Presbyterian Church Sanctuary on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m. for a program titled “Rock Art of Utah” sponsored by Friends of the Library.  I will share photos and stories of some of my favorite sites.
Hope to see you there –- and bring a friend. 

Please note location change from earlier announcement: from the library conference room to Jemez Springs Presbyterian Church Sanctuary.  Same time and day:  2 p.m. Saturday.


By R.W.

Mountain Fish.

When I hear the Jemez speak their amazing sounding language I can rarely separate a single word from the flow, let alone catch any of the meaning of what is being said. I have once or twice been coached, by bored Jemez looking for distraction, to utter simple greetings or pronounce the odd name place, only to have my attempts greeted with either puzzlement or total amusement.

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History Museum Explores Turn-of-the-Century Syria in a Post-ISIS World

By Jennifer Padilla



As Syria’s ongoing civil war, staggering death toll, and displacement of thousands of refugees threatens to destroy Syrian culture, the Palace of the Governors will display seven albums of photographs of historic sites in Syria taken between 1899 and 1909. Entitled Syria: Cultural Patrimony Under Threat, the exhibition will include multi-functional information kiosks with insights into Syrian people and culture. The exhibition opens Friday, June 23 and runs through December 2017.

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Watch Archaeologists Hand Excavate Kuaua Pueblo Site

By Jennifer Padilla

Photo Alex Cedillos. Kiva ladder at Coronado Historic Site.

The live dig started yesterday and will continue until Sept. 30, 2017.


New Mexicans have a rare opportunity to watch archaeologists on a live dig at the Coronado Historic Site off U.S. 550 in Bernalillo. The Dig Kuaua! handexcavation of the Kuaua Pueblo will be performed by the Office of Archaeological Studies from May 15 through June 30, 2017. Members of the Friends of Coronado Historic Site group can even participate alongside the archaeologists.

“This dig has the potential of yielding hundreds if not thousands of artifacts,” said Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites. “The hand-excavation will focus test units throughout Kuaua Pueblo and the surrounding refuse piles called ‘middens.’ Architecture dating to the 1500s will also be unearthed.”

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Bandelier Seeking Youth Work Crew Applicants

By Chris Judson
NPS Photo  Bandelier Preservation Corps crew with National Park Service preservationists
 For several summers, crews of young people have done valuable service for Bandelier National Monument, working on trails, archeological sites, and other projects.  The Bandelier Conservation Corps and the Bandelier Preservation Corps are organized through the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and supervised by park staff. Both crews are now seeking applicants for this summer.

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New Film Production Starting Up This Month


The television pilot “Scalped” produced by Horizon Scripted Television, Inc., will begin principal photography for the month of April in Santa Fe, Pojoaque and Laguna Pueblo. “This is a particularly unique project dealing with modern day challenges and issues of cultural identity in Native American communities.

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