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2018-2019 La Canoa Legacy Talks


La Canoa: The Nuclear Option: Perpetuating the Myth of New Mexico as Wasteland

December 15, 2018

UNM Assistant Professor Myrriah Gómez discusses New Mexico and the nuclear option. Long before the nuclear industrial complex began in here in 1942, New Mexico was depicted by outsiders as a “wasteland.” In an effort to combat that historical portrayal, the New Mexico Bureau of Immigration issued Aztlán: The History, Resources and Attractions of New Mexico in 1885, a book that was used to recruit Anglos to New Mexico in an effort to shift the racial and ethnic demographics so as to earn statehood. Building on Anglo rhetoric from the 19th century, the federal government continues to use the same arguments to convert New Mexico into the premier repository for the nation’s nuclear waste. This talk will discuss the rearticulation of New Mexico as a nuclear wasteland in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Myrriah Gómez is a Nuevo Mexicana from the Pojoaque Valley. She is an Assistant Professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico. Myrriah’s current book project, Nuclear Nuevo México: Identity, Ethnicity, and Resistance in Atomic Third Spaces, examines the effects of the nuclear industry on people of color in New Mexico.

This event was part of the La Canoa lecture series, presented by UNM's Center for Regional Studies and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.


La Canoa: Patriots from the Barrio

November 17, 2018

Author Dave Gutierrez discusses his book, Patriots from the Barrio, the true story of Company E 141st Infantry, the only all Mexican American U.S. Army unit in WWII. Mr. Gutierrez originally self-published his book in 2014. In September of 2017, Hollywood actor/producer Wilmer Valderrama obtained the film rights to the book. Westholme Publishing released a new edition of the book in May 2018.

Dave Gutierrez is a professional researcher, historical presenter, and writer. His articles have appeared in publications including American Legion and War History Online. Recognized by both the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin and the El Paso Museum of History for his groundbreaking work on Company E, he also specializes in genealogical research, Mexican American history, and World War II studies. Dave and his family reside in San Jose, California.

This event was part of the La Canoa lecture series, presented by UNM's Center for Regional Studies and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.


La Canoa: The Women of Local 890 and the Empire Mine Strike

October 20, 2018

Professor Kells examines “embodied rhetoric” in the Local 890 chapter of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers of Hanover, New Mexico, who staged one of the nation’s most effective groundbreaking strikes near Silver City from October 1950 to January 1952. The grievances of the Empire Zinc workers included racial discrimination in job duties and pay, toxic work environments, and inequitable power sharing between labor and management. The dramatic showdown, resulting in incarceration of forty-five women, seventeen children, and a six-month-old baby, shocked the nation.

Michelle Hall Kells is Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of New Mexico where she teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in Rhetoric and Writing. Kells received the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library Research Fellowship in 2008. Her recent book is Vicente Ximenes, LBJ’s “Great Society,” and Mexican American Civil Rights Rhetoric (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018). Kells is also lead editor of Latino/a Discourses: On Language, Identity, and Literacy Education (Heinemann, 2004).

This event was part of the La Canoa lecture series, presented by UNM's Center for Regional Studies and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.


La Canoa: Mulattos of Cochiti: Caste in Spanish New Mexico

September 15, 2018

Deputy State Historian, Rob Martinez, examines the role of racial mixing, identity, and the categorizing of humans living in Spanish Colonial New Mexico. The approach will be through the lens of the casta, or caste system. Historical research, genealogy, and DNA all converge to provide a clearer understanding of Hispano roots in New Mexico, as well as in Latino-Meso America and Hispanic Europe.

Rob Martinez is a native New Mexican, born and raised in Albuquerque. A graduate of the University of New Mexico with a B.B.A. in International Business Management, Rob went on to pursue his interest in New Mexican culture and history at UNM, earning an M.A. in Latin American history, with an emphasis on church, cultural, and social practices of the Spanish Colonial period in New Mexico. Mr. Martinez worked for fourteen years as a research historian for the Sephardic Legacy Project, scouring civil and church archives in New Mexico, Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, analyzing documents for a research and publishing project about the Crypto-Jewish phenomenon in New Mexico and the Caribbean. Rob has presented papers and lectures on his research at the University of New Mexico as well as history conferences throughout the southwestern United States. He has also spoken to historical groups in New Mexico such as the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Historical Society, and the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies about research methodology, unique findings, New Mexico Hispanic culture, and general History of New Mexico. Mr. Martinez is also a folk musician, performing and promoting New Mexican Hispanic musical traditions for the past twenty years with his brother Lorenzo and their father Roberto Martinez in the group Los Reyes de Albuquerque. With his musical family, he has performed in all parts of New Mexico, and on multiple occasions has presented music and New Mexican culture at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, D.C., the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship Awards, and also at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

This event was part of the La Canoa lecture series, presented by UNM's Center for Regional Studies and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.