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Recognizing Heritage

The Politics of Multiculturalism in New Mexico

Thomas H. Guthrie

Publication Year: 2013

In 2006 Congress established the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area to recognize the four-hundred-year “coexistence” of Spanish and Indian peoples in New Mexico and their place in the United States. National heritage areas enable local communities to partner with the federal government to promote historic preservation, cultural conservation, and economic development. Recognizing Heritage explores the social, political, and historical context of this and other public efforts to interpret and preserve Native American and Hispanic heritage in northern New Mexico.
The federal government’s recognition of New Mexico’s cultural distinctiveness contrasts sharply with its earlier efforts to wipe out Indian and Hispanic cultures. Yet even celebrations of cultural difference can reinforce colonial hierarchies. Multiculturalism and colonialism have overlapped in New Mexico since the nineteenth century, when Anglo-American colonists began promoting the region’s unique cultures and exotic images to tourists. Thomas H. Guthrie analyzes the relationship between heritage preservation and ongoing struggles over land, water, and identity resulting from American colonization. He uses four sites within the heritage area to illustrate the unintentional colonial effects of multiculturalism: a history and anthropology museum, an Indian art market, a “tricultural” commemorative plaza, and a mountain village famous for its adobe architecture. Recognizing Heritage critiques the politics of recognition and suggests steps toward a more just multiculturalism that fundamentally challenges colonial inequalities.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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pp. 5-7


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pp. vii-9

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xiii

Many people have helped me along the way since I began this project in 2001, and it is a pleasure to be able to thank them now. In New Mexico, the interim board of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area welcomed me to their meetings, invited...

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A Note on Terminology

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pp. xv-xvi

The names for the various groups that have settled in New Mexico are notoriously problematic, since none are universally acceptable and most are homogenizing. The terms “Pueblo,” “Indian,” and “Native American” are all European or Euro-American inventions....

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pp. 1-20

On a sunny spring day in 2002 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S. senator Jeff Bingaman announced plans to establish the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area. Designated by Congress, national heritage areas are both places and administrative frameworks. They cover nationally significant, living...

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1. Constructing History at the Palace of the Governors

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pp. 21-61

The Palace of the Governors, a one-story adobe building on the north side of the Santa Fe plaza, has always been Santa Fe’s most famous landmark. Its front facade has become a tourist icon (see fig. 2). Under the front portal of the Palace, Indian artists display handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and other goods...

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2. Authenticity under the Palace Portal

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pp. 62-96

Perhaps the most important, and certainly the most popular, part of the Palace of the Governors today is the portal market. Almost every day of the year, through the heat of summer and cold of winter, Indian artists sit with their backs against the front wall of the Palace under Nusbaum’s restored...

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3. Heritage and Recognition in the Española Valley

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pp. 97-167

From Santa Fe we head twenty-five miles north on U.S. Highway 84/285, through a high desert landscape of canyons and mesas, to a very different place. The city of Española is smaller and poorer than Santa Fe. Although tourists drive through Española on their way between Santa Fe and Taos, they...

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4. The Politics of Preservation in Las Trampas

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pp. 168-217

One of the paintings in the Española Misión is of the church of San José de Gracia in the mountain village of Las Trampas, which lies along the High Road between Santa Fe and Taos. Las Trampas has captivated the imagination of Anglo-Americans since they began arriving in New Mexico...

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5. Anthropology, Heritage, and Multicultural Justice

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pp. 218-238

Anthropology and the heritage industry are closely related, especially in the American Southwest. The Southwest has been a preeminent “laboratory” for both archaeological and ethnographic research since the nineteenth century (Fowler 2000). This research was tied to tourism development,...

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Epilogue. Danza de los Antepasados

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pp. 239-244

The Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area has become an active organization. An executive director is working with an assistant from an office in Española. It has taken a long time to complete a management plan, but each new draft shows improvement.1 Through a small grants program...

Appendix. Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Act

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pp. 245-250


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pp. 251-284


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pp. 285-306


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pp. 307-317

E-ISBN-13: 9780803249592
E-ISBN-10: 0803249594
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803246102

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013