I Heard a Story, I Told a Story

I Heard a Story, I Told a Story

Following in the Footsteps of Juan B. Rael

The rural villages of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado represent some of the oldest land-based communities in the United States. They form a cohesive regional culture connected by shared family lineages, traditions, histories, and a distinctive dialect of Spanish. 

Juan B. Rael (1900 – 1993), a linguist and folklorist from the village of Arroyo Hondo, was one of the first scholars to document the storytelling tradition of the region. He traveled to twenty-three villages during the 1930s and 1940s, collecting more than 500 stories from ninety-seven storytellers from all walks of life.

The collection was published in two volumes, in 1977, by the Museum of New Mexico Press as Cuentos Españoles de Colorado y Nuevo Mexico: Spanish Folk Tales of Colorado and New Mexico. This exhibition contains a representative sample of ten of these stories, each deeply reflective of its time and place.

In New Mexico, Rael visited Cuyamungué, Española, Abiquiú, Taos, Arroyo Seco, Arroyo Hondo, Questa, Cerro, Costilla, Los Pinos and Santa Fe. In Colorado he visited Antonito, San Pablo, Garcia, San Luis, Los Sauces, Fort Garland, Alamosa, Capulin, Del Norte, Manassa, Mogote, and Conejos. 

Ten stories and storytellers were selected including The Priest’s Little Cow, Felix Pino, Santa Fe, NM, The Rat, Tomás Barela, Taos, NM, The Ant, Eva Martinez, Conejos, CO, Manito Rabbit and Coyote, Cleofas Jaramillo, Santa Fe, NM, Pedro de Urdemales, Simon Gallegos, Antonito, CO, The Grandson and Grandfather, Felix Esquivel, San Pablo, CO, The Indian Youth, Remigio Martinez, Conejos, CO, The Magician, Concepcion Rodriguez, Taos, NM, The Milk Giving Tree, Refugio Valdés (Costilla/Garcia), The Spider, Ant and Grasshopper, Candelaria Valdez, Taos, NM.

Students from the New Mexico Highlands University’s Department of Media Arts and Technology produced this multimedia exhibition on behalf of the Manitos Community Memory Project, a collaborative initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The goal of the project is to create a digital community archive of the cultural heritage of the region. In bringing to light the research of Juan B. Rael and the stories he collected, it is our hope to inspire the next generation of storytellers.


Students: Samantha Gallegos, Darian Manzanares, Krislyn Padilla, and Daniel Ulibarri 

Graduate Assistants: Behshad Yekkeh, Ashley Arellanes, and Krista Marquez 

Teaching & Research Assistant: Shane Flores

Intern & Seabury Fellow: Natasha Vasquez

Project Intern: Chris Romero

Instructor: Lauren Addario

Stories Read by: Jacobo Rael and Patricia Patrizia Flores

Content Development, Translation, & Editing: Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez, Director, Manitos Community Memory Project with support from Celina Garcia, Mimi Roberts, Isabel Trujillo, Patricia Trujillo Oviedo, John Valdez, Frank Wimberly, Lisa Pacheco, Editorial Director Museum of New Mexico Press, and Anna Gallegos, Director of Museum of New Mexico Press.