Water For Supper


A great 12 minute read for children about the value of grandparents.

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Santuario de Chamayo


If you ever travel to the Santa Fe area of New Mexico, it would be well worth your time to visit the Santuario de Chamayo. It was almost an ethereal experience for me. There is no doubt that something special, spiritual and magical is present and will touch the open hearts, minds and souls of those who visit.

A traditionally styled southwestern adobe chapel was completed by the community effort of Bernardo Abeyta and the residents of El Potrero in 1816. It was constructed in honor of Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas. Up until 1929 the Santuario remained in the Abeyta family. The reason the Abeyta family and the El Potrero community wanted to do such a thing was because of what they considered to be miraculous events.

After performing penances, a friar witnessed a light burst forth from the ground near the Santa Cruz River. Digging in the sand, he discovered a crucifix that would be christened Nuestro Senor de Esquipulas (Our Lord of Esquipulas). On three separate occasions the crucifix was paraded to the nearby village only to disappear and be found again within the same hole. The people accepted that the crucifix desired to remain in Chamayo and erected a chapel there in its honor. It did not take long for miraculous healing events to take place.

In 1929 private citizens purchased the chapel from the Abeyta family and gave it to the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The crucifix remains in the new Santuario that replaced the old chapel in the same sandy hole where it was originally discovered. The locals consider the supernatural power to not be within the crucifix but, rather, in the “tierra bendita” or, “blessed earth”. Visitors are allowed to enter the “dirt room” and remove a bit of the sand surrounding the crucifix. It is commonly eaten, dissolved in water to drink, or made into a paste that can be applied to an afflicted body part.

The gringa must admit to claiming a bit of the blessed earth for herself. My intention was to return home and, after a time of contemplation, I was going to apply some of it to my head and drink some in a cup of herbal tea. My hope was to be cured of my epilepsy. However, I have felt too reverently toward this bit of sand I have encased in a crystal container from Israel. I can’t decide exactly why I feel I shouldn’t do it, but I trust whatever my intuition is telling me. Maybe one day, but not today.

Local legends of the Native Americans claim this site was once a Native American shrine and holy place. It is thought that the sand pit containing the crucifix is what remains from a pool that once existed and was fed by hot springs known for their curative powers within the water and mud.

Adjacent to the “dirt room” in the chapel is another room that contained at the time of my visit about sixty or seventy pairs of crutches hanging about on one wall. Reportedly they belonged to people who entered the dirt room upon them and no longer needed them when they exited after using the blessed earth. Another wall in this room is covered with photos of people who were healed here. They number in the thousands. It is astounding.

For those with loved ones unable to travel and put their faith to the test and be healed, the amazing thing is that thousands of testimonies have reported healings over long distances through the power of prayer at this location. The grounds have a beautiful garden decorated with Madonnas and crucifixes from all over the world. My favorites were a Vietnamese Madonna and child and a wooden crucifix of carved rosettes. Surrounding this magnificent garden array are multiple altars and chapels as well as make shift shrines created by visitors over time. They are adorned with candles, rosaries and hand made crosses and all feature photos of loved ones who are prayed for to receive healing no matter how far away they may be.

One beautiful stone altar was full of rosaries and candles placed there by visitors who were praying for healing of themselves or loved ones. An outdoor chapel had thousands upon thousands of photos. It was astonishing. The Santuario is very accommodating to visitors. The most common areas are filled with photographs making it necessary to improvise new shrines within the grounds. Permission is also given upon request to place a cross on the fence surrounding the parking area so loved ones can continue to receive prayers for healing. Many of these crosses were handmade out of sticks and twigs tied together with grasses picked up from the sanctuary grounds, thus considered as blessed as the soil surrounding the famous crucifix. Throughout the Garden were more elaborate and larger crosses visitors had erected for loved ones. These beautiful testimonies bordered the parking lot at the very edge of the Sanctuario.

Today the Santuario is served by the Sons of the Holy Family who also serve in Silver Spring, Maryland, in Spain, Italy, Mexico and various South American countries. The Holy Family Parish faithfully tends to the needs of the tens of thousands of visitors who arrive every year searching for a healing miracle.

A Day at Nambe Pueblo


When the caveman and I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, we spent a day at the Nambe Pueblo. I enjoyed photographing a pretty church with old mission style architecture. The highlight of our day, however, was hiking to the top of Nambe Falls of Rio Nambe and seeing a panoramic view of the Pueblo stretched out before us. The hiking paths were quite rugged and the river rushing full and muddy after receiving record rainfall just days before we arrived.

This spectacular waterfall is situated amidst 20,000 acres of high desert. A recreation area centered around the falls is open to visitors for camping, hiking and fishing. Although at the time of our visit no fishing was allowed as they were undergoing a restoration project of the fish population after a catastrophic fire affected the Nambe Reservoir and resulted in a devastating complete fish kill.

The hike to the falls is a quarter of a mile, uphill, in rough, rocky terrain so it’s pretty slow going. The nearest restaurant or food store is twenty minutes away. If you decide to go for a hike, be sure to pack a picnic and plenty of water. Also, wear good shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy. The caveman got pretty muddy and could not understand how the gringa arrived back to the car after traveling the same trails and the white trim around my cute little flats was spotless. I just say, “It’s all part of my mystery and charm.”

If you’re not too pooped out after the hike to the falls, you might want to check out the tribe’s buffalo herd. The Inter Tribal Buffalo Council has been tending their herd since 1994. When the buffalo were decimated by Europeans throughout New Mexico, the Pueblo peoples suffered greatly. To reintroduce them back into their culture has great meaning and significance and is symbolic of renewal and triumph. The traditional Buffalo Dance has taken on new meaning at Nambe. The herd is not reared simply to be seen and as a reminder of history. Occasionally the tribe slaughters in the traditional respectful manner in accordance to their traditions in order to feed the elders and tribal members. A trail loop two miles long can be traveled where hikers can view the buffalo at pasture against the stunning backdrop of the Pueblo lands framed by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Being a patio gardener, the gringa also took pleasure in the Pueblo’s community garden and vineyard. The tribe grows four grape varieties, corn and a few various other crops and herbs. The abundance of the community’s harvest feeds the seniors living on the Pueblo as well as the entire community at the harvest festival held at the end of the growing season. The community garden also provides an educational opportunity to pass down the Tewa language with the youth learning the native names for the plants and foods they help to cultivate.

The tribes settled in the northern New Mexico region have populated the Pueblo of Nambe since the fourteenth century. Situated in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains a short drive from Santa Fe, it makes a great day trip with the opportunity to appreciate the picturesque beauty of the landscape, experience living history, and bring home handcrafted textiles and pottery.

Pojoaque Pueblo


The caveman and I took a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2013. While we were there we visited the Pojoaque Pueblo. The Poeh Cultural Center was such an inspiring place to visit. They have many classes available designed to restore native traditions and the native language of the Pojoaque tribe.

The art studios feature different mediums. We saw designers creating beautiful jewelry. There also was, of course, pottery and sculpture. One of the galleries featured an exhibit of a tribal member who is a fashion designer, Patricia Michaels, featured on Project Runway. The permanent exhibit “Nah Poeh Meng”, Tewa for “The Continuous Path” depicts the history of the Pueblo in seasonal divisions. I found it fascinating.

Whether we were exploring the grounds that were filled with interesting sculptures and architecture, or educating ourselves through the many historical pieces on display in the museum, we were equally captivated. The Poeh cultural center is a vital part of Pojoaque’s thriving tribal community. If you ever get the chance, you should visit.

1798, Immigrant Until Death


The 1740 Naturalization Act was normal operating procedure for creating a new nation. New nations need new laws, and lawmaking is a very complicated process. First, legislators have to become aware that there is a need for such action. If even one legislator takes up a cause to propose a new law, or repeal or amend an existing law, the next step is extensive research before the writing of an introductory bill can even begin. Once the bill is finally composed and introduced to Congress, lawmakers then have to reach a consensus in order for it to become the law of the land. Thus, any change in immigration policy is preceded by a significant event, whether social, political or economic, that would motivate lawmakers to invest such time and effort in order to bring about change. Therefore every immigration law reflects the motivating public sentiment, political benefit or economic incentive that was originally behind it.

On June 18, 1798, the Congress of the United States passed legislation that repealed the 1790 Naturalization Act.  Now, rather than have a simple immigration policy, the United States embarked on the path of detail, detail, detail, by creating a citizenship policy that had many more conditions.  The only requirements of the 1790 act were to (a) be white, (b) be “free”, (c) live in the United States for two years, and (d) live in a particular state for one year. The new legislation created a completely new path to citizenship with more documentation, fees, demands of much longer residency and the creation of a new waiting period. According to United States Congressional Records (www.memory.loc.gov), The United States 1798 Naturalization Act stipulated:

  • All white persons and aliens (except for foreign ministers, consuls, agents, their families & domestics) who continued to live within United States territory after arrival, and were at least 21 years old, were required to report to the clerk of the court that was within ten miles of the port or place in which they arrived in the United States and register as “free” immigrant arrivals (if the immigrant was younger, or a servant, they had to appear with a parent, guardian, master, or mistress)
  • Immigrant registration must be completed within 48 hours of arrival to United States territories
  • The immigrant must pay a fifty cent fee to the court for registering (fifty cents would be equivalent to about $10 today)
  • After registration, the immigrant is admitted into the United States with a 14 year period of residency required before application of citizenship can be made
  • After the 14 year residency is completed, the immigrant must make a declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen and wait another four years
  • The application of intention to become a U.S. citizen must include proof to the court that the minimum 14 year residency has been fulfilled
  • The immigrant applicant cannot be a citizen or native of any state or country the U.S. is at war with
  • The immigrant applicant must pay a $2 fee (equivalent to about $40 today) to the court for the “abstract of such declaration” document to be filed and recorded with the court
  • After the immigrant applicant successfully fulfills all residency, waiting period and documentary proof requirements, United States citizenship is granted
  • Another $2 fee is paid to the court to file a certificate and record the court decree of the proceedings regarding the alien

What did all of this really mean to an immigrant in 1798? Why such a significant change in the period of time for residency? Why was a new waiting period of five years created? What happened in the eight years that transpired from the simple Naturalization Act of 1790 to this new, complicated process of 1798 that increased the residency period by 700%?

1790 census reports reflect a dramatic increase in immigration. Pre-1790 immigration numbers were 950,000. Post-1790 immigration numbers totaled 3,900,000. This is a bit more than a 400% increase. The following countries and ethnic and religious groups are representative of the new arrivals to the United States of America:  African, British, Scottish, Irish, German, Netherlands, Wales, France, Sweden,  and Jewish (www.wikipedia.org).

Passenger lists from ship manifests bound for the United States in the mid 1770s reflect an average age of 21 years for the typical immigrant arriving to the New World (www.olivetreegenealogy.com). According to the Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 131, 2004 lectures, “We know now that in 1798 life expectancy in Britain was around 40”. The website, Stokesfamily.org, confirms this finding by stating in reports that in the 1750’s the “average person would live to only 36.9 years of age”. If, then, the average immigrant arrived in the United States at the age of 21, by the time the residency and declaration waiting period requirements were fulfilled, this same immigrant would be approximately 39 years old. It would seem highly likely that death would then prevent many immigrants from ever becoming United States citizens.

Did the United States Congress design an immigration law that created a substandard class of people to be exploited for the benefit of the upper classes? Did this same law engender a false hope that inspired many people to immigrate to the United States never understanding the New World’s open arms received them as laborers who had no hope of ever having rights, representation and property? Did these immigrants truly perceive that this new law would probably mean they would die before ever achieving their dream of becoming an American? Does the dear reader see the same thing I see: the first step of a suspicious pattern in the United States where citizens of means and property exploit immigrants of all races and both genders in order to profit from their labor? Did the government of 1798 America intentionally design legislation to create the illusion of possible citizenship to hopeful immigrants when actually the design was to achieve national prosperity on the backs of an imported labor class who could never hope to change their lot in life, most likely dying before they gained the right to vote? If so, why would the United States do such a thing?

Although slavery was alive and well in the southern settlements, African enslavement was on its way out in New England by the 1780’s (www.wikipedia.org). This translated into a great need for cheap labor in the northern states. This economic need could then very well be the mitigating factor for a new Naturalization Act. The enslavement of the African was switched for a more politically correct form of enslavement. Create a labor class of immigrant who, without citizenship, has no rights, no vote, no property and no hope of ever having such until the day he dies. This was a very clever plan, indeed.

In a nutshell, the simple “whites only” Naturalization Act of 1790 is replaced in 1798 with a new “whites only” naturalization formula that prevents the likelihood that the people who comprised the immigrant labor class would ever have a voice and be represented in government through the power of casting ballots as legal citizen voters. It seems the Congress planned it this way. This gringa is very disappointed with her country. I can only hope there is a change in how the immigrant is perceived by the powerful and influential within the United States. As I observe the people of my barrio, their work ethic, their desire to have a better life than the one they left behind in their native country, and I see how they are affected by current immigration law, I’m not so sure that much has changed.

(photo by fincher.house.gov)