Day 11 - Taos - New Mexico

Trip Start Oct 13, 2012
1
11
38
Trip End Nov 19, 2012


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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What an interesting history this place has and what a mix of cultures. I suspect this history is taught to American school children from a young age, but again I didn't know it (apologies for my ignorance) so am sharing my interpretation of some of it. (Well maybe not all American school children as I heard a tour guide in one of the museums today rousing on a child, about 8 or 9 years old, for not knowing the history of the Boston Tea Party, perhaps he doesn't know this either.)

New Mexico, along with California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Texas (which at the time also included parts of Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas) were all originally part of Mexico.

During the late 1600s the Indian people in this area fought off a Spanish invasion, but several Spanish families still migrated to the region.

Then during 1835-1836 the Mexican people lost Texas to the US during the Texas Revolution. And following this Mexico lost all the remaining territories as a result of the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848.

Despite all the time that has passed there is still a very strong Mexican presence here that can be seen in the both the population and architecture. It is such a pretty little town, I love it. I had a late lunch today sipping margaritas looking out over Taos Plaza, which is filled with beautiful galleries and jewellery shops (it's quite the artist's mecca up here). Whilst there I heard a couple of friends calling out to each other below, one yelled to the other "hey Pablo don't forget the tacos", what more can I say :)

One of the museums I saw today was Kit Carson's house. He was an explorer and mountain man that arrived in the area in the mid 1820s. During his life time he was a fur trapper, an Indian Agent and an Army officer. His first two wives were Indian (the first Arapahoe, the second Cheyenne), his third was a descendant of a Spanish family that migrated to Taos in the late 1600s. His standing here was clearly so significant that they have maintained the home he shared with his third wife and turned it in to a museum. Also interesting is that it is said that his children were raised with Indian children that he had helped free from capture (from who I don't know, will have to look into that more).

I found this quite interesting as only two days ago at Monument Valley I heard all about his involvement in the capture and imprisonment of the Navajo people. During his time as a Army officer he was responsible for instituting a scorched earth policy burning Navajo fields and homes and either stealing or killing their livestock in order to starve the Navajo people and force them into submission. In 1864 he forced 8000 Navajo to march 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico (known as "the long walk") where they were imprisoned. Many died along the way or in prison and were not able to return to their native land until they signed a treaty with the US in1868.

So let's do a quick re-cap here. He moved to New Mexico when it was still part of Mexico. He married two Indian women then a Spanish descendant. He fought in the Mexican-American war to help take over Mexico (where he'd been living for around 20 years), and then despite his history with the local Indian people he set out for Utah to destroy the lives of 8000 Indian people from the Navajo tribe, but apparently he freed some Indian children in Taos from capture, talk about some confused morals. I think there might be more I need to know about this chap as I can't understand why he's heralded here, though I do understand why he's hated by the Navajo. Most intriguing. If anyone knows more about him and I'm missing some part of the big picture let me know.
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