ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico's Pueblos have a history with the
federal government unlike any other American Indian tribe.
They never signed treaties, and with that came decades of a dual
existence. On one hand, they didn't fit the mold the government had
established for native people. Still, they were Indian enough to be
subjected to policies that called for them to trade in their native
languages and send their children to boarding school.
For the first time, the Pueblos have come together to offer their
own historical perspective on the effects of 100 years of state and
federal policy as part of an exhibit at the Indian Pueblo Cultural
Center in Albuquerque.
Simple black and white designs meant to represent turkey feathers
form the basis of a timeline that runs through the museum.
Photographs, letters, pottery and other crafts fill the space, while
touch screens and QR codes link to more videos, audio interviews and
"The timeline and the points along the timeline are really
elements of challenges our Pueblo people have faced and how Pueblo
people through education and through perseverance have risen through
these challenges. It's important to teach a younger generation the
foundation of why certain things are the way they are," said Travis
Suazo, exhibition project manager.
Scattered along the Rio Grande Valley and parts of west-central
New Mexico, the Pueblos have a storied history that stretches from
the conquest of the Spanish to Mexican rule and eventually the
westward expansion of the United States. Each decade has brought
with it challenges to tribal sovereignty, Pueblo leaders say.
The idea of telling the story from the Pueblo perspective came
from a series of leadership institutes at the Santa Fe Indian School
that were established partly by Regis Pecos, a former tribal
governor and past director of the state's Indian Affairs agency. One
goal was to start a conversation about public policy issues facing
tribal communities. Another was to prepare the next generation so it
could effect change.
Aside from pulling together the exhibition, the leadership
founders and other experts have been building a curriculum that
better tells the Pueblo story, said Ron Solimon, executive director
of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
"We're aiming at concentric circles of youth, native people and
others," he said. "A lot of us - and I include myself - suffer from
ignorance on the rich history that our Pueblo people have been
involved in, especially since the U.S. claimed this area as a
The exhibit starts with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which
ended the Mexican American War in 1848. …