Decolonizing New Mexico

Remembering, Reimagining and Recovering

New Mexico’s story is one of astonishing complexity, resplendent with the tenacity of spirit and set within a magnificent and sovereign landscape that is both ancient and modern. Its people are the heirs to unique and richly woven histories, traditions and a depth of wisdom and memories, all manifest in the physical and social landscape, tangible and intangible, and beautiful and tragic passed from one generation to the next.

Given the times in which we are living, Decolonizing New Mexico focused on critical assessment of the site we now know as New Mexico, including its people, places, moments in time and stories that reflect both the beautiful and the tragic.

It begins with a recognition that the present retains traumas born from the past — a spiritual, emotional and psychological wounding that radiates across the generations — with contemporary implications, including internalized wounds that are only beginning to be measured.

It endeavors to center a difficult process of decolonizing history, which requires awakening consciousness by remembering and reckoning with hard truths and in some cases, letting go of long held beliefs. As Maori scholar, Linda Tuhiwai Smith has observed, “In order to decolonize our histories, we must revisit site by site.” Efforts to transform the impact of this trauma will require a concerted effort to contextualize and reimagine site-by-site, event-by-event and story-by-story, work that is reflected in both historic and recent activism. The approach is also based upon imaginative possibility. Novelist and Chicana scholar Emma Perez suggests the term “decolonial imaginary” as a way to overcome a colonial past, by literally recording presence and re-inscribing new possibilities. Recovery, healing and transcendence is a process, but it begin with a critical and imaginative remembering. The goal is to awaken a practice of memory that does not complicate history, but invites us to make it.

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About this Project

Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez launched this project in 2017 with the support of the McCune Foundation which requested him to deepen the work he began after his consulting firm completed Culture Connects Santa Fe, the City of Santa Fe’s first cultural plan. The goal of the project was to understand and address the various manifestations of historic trauma that have continued to divide the community of Santa Fe. Initially, the Santa Fe Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative defined the work with the targeted goal of establishing a commission. While it was always recognized that the transformation from something as profoundly complex as colonialism would be an extensive process, early stakeholder engagement revealed the need to undertake further research to underpin the long-term effort. The project also expanded beyond Santa Fe.

Decolonizing New Mexico is the culmination of community engagement and a depth of research effort. The project leveraged Dr. Rael-Gálvez’s work as a colonial studies scholar, trained particularly as an anthropologist and historian, but also his decade’s long community advocacy working with and in community. This website is meant to enter gather historical context and ideas toward the development of a process, centering truth and transformation in New Mexico. It is neither comprehensive, nor complete and as more information is collected, more will be added to this website.