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Author: Estevan Rael-Gálvez

Community Cuentistas – Mapping the Storytellers in Juan B. Rael’s ‘Cuentos Españoles de Colorado y Nuevo Mexico’

Community Cuentistas – Mapping the Storytellers in Juan B. Rael’s ‘Cuentos Españoles de Colorado y Nuevo Mexico’

One of the core lessons I learned from my grandmother was that the best storytellers are those that have mastered the ability to lean in and to listen. In this, I think of the work of now renowned linguist and folklorist, Juan Bautista Rael. As a native son of the region, he had no doubt been raised on stories, however, in the summer of 1930, he returned home, freshly minted with a Master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley….

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Independence Day – Imagining the Nation, in Questa, New Mexico

Independence Day – Imagining the Nation, in Questa, New Mexico

Recently, I came across a couple of photos taken of a Independence Day Parade in my home village of Questa, from circa 1935, which led me to reflect about this commemoration. It is interesting to reflect on this celebration of Independence Day (4th of July) for a mountain village that had been settled by Mexican citizens after Mexican Independence and before the U.S.-Mexican War that resulted in the annexation of the northern portion of Mexico. Questa, which was actually founded…

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RECONCILIATION

RECONCILIATION

The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) opened, Reconciliation. The exhibition responds to last year’s ending of “La Entrada” as part of the Santa Fe Fiestas and using artistic expression, adds to the ongoing dialogue of the astonishing complexity of being and belonging to this place we now call New Mexico.

The Director’s Journal

The Director’s Journal

The Manitos Community Memory Project was recently launched with this ‘Digital Resolana’ serving as a way to generate an interest in the community toward developing a community archive. The blog also serves to document the process and progress of the overall project. In this thread, my own goal as the director of the project will be to use this space to journal short reflections about the project sharing my thoughts about the project, words, ideas, people and places. August 2…

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Alabados – Voices of Spirit

Alabados – Voices of Spirit

Today, on this highest of holy days to Catholics, I recall the deeply resonant sounds of the ancient spiritual hymns known as alabados. Recognizing the value and importance of recording these spiritual praises and other musical and religious traditions, folklorist and linguist Dr. Juan B. Rael returned home in the summer of 1940 and recorded the voices of fifteen men and four women from villages in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, including these deeply spiritual hymns. Listening to the alabados in moradas,…

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Women and Creativity

Women and Creativity

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t acknowledge the contributions of women, including in shaping who I am as a man to this day. Indeed, When I think of the power of the human spirit, realized especially through the deepest love that one person can hold for another, I think of mamá, my grandmother, one of the two women who raised me up in beauty and vision. Yet, as we close this month, where we pause…

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Reflections of Africa in New Mexico

Reflections of Africa in New Mexico

Every village has a remarkable story and Las Trampas, named for the River of Traps that flows through it, is no different. This village in northern New Mexico was settled in 1751 and holds the legacy of the remarkable families that gathered ground, tilled it and through the centuries made community. These families had come from Santa Fe, but at least one of their progenitors had himself carried an older origin story, one that reflected a journey of thousands of…

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The Voices of Our Ancestors

The Voices of Our Ancestors

Recently, I have been thinking about the importance of the human voice, particularly as an instrument for storytelling. It is often said that when an elder passes, an entire archive passes with them. In this piece, I reflect about how important it is to gather these voices, to dedicate ourselves to recording the stories all around us, particularly of our elders. It is also possible that our ancestors were interviewed and that those interviews are held in reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes…

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La Sala – A Center that Celebrated Community

La Sala – A Center that Celebrated Community

Some places only exist as memories and stories and this is certainly true of the Sala that belonged to my grandparents in Questa, New Mexico. As the youngest of all of the grandchildren of Jose Albino and Andrellita, I was one of the few who never experienced the business and building that our grandparents established to sustain both their family and their community. I did, however, inherit the stories. The Sala was located at the center of the village and…

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‘Dando Los Dias’ – Greeting the New Year with Poetry and Song

‘Dando Los Dias’ – Greeting the New Year with Poetry and Song

In the spirt of a history that forms an arc from ancient troubadours to modern day slam poets, in my own natal villages of Amalia, Costilla, Cerro and Questa, one of the most beautiful traditions is that of ‘Dando Los Dias,’ which I translate to ‘gifting the blessing upon the day — the day of days.’ In this tradition, musicians and poets travel from home to hom serenading families. They begin striking up the music at the thresholds of each…

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