From Brandon Morgan, Ph.D.
In the early fall semester of 2013, Audrey Gramstad, Administrative Director of the Distance Learning department (DL) at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), contacted me with a difficult question. She wanted to know whether or not I could write a New Mexico History textbook. At that point in time I had recently defended my doctoral dissertation and I was feeling ambitious, so I answered in the affirmative. Little did I know the level of research and writing work that such an endeavor would require. Without the help of more people than I can possibly name in this short section, this project would never have come about.
I enjoy research–particularly about the U.S. Southwest and the Mexican North. My dissertation (now book manuscript) deals with the closely connected histories of economic development and violence along the Chihuahua-New Mexico border between the 1880s and 1930s. To tell the truth, I was excited at the prospect of continuing a strong research agenda while I taught at CNM.
For a few months the project remained on the back burner as I considered how I might pursue it, and as I continued to complete my teaching schedule. Then, on March 8, 2014, I realized belatedly that the commemoration of Pancho Villa’s Raid on the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico, was to take place the following day. Feeling a bit sheepish (I mean this is my field of expertise–I should have been on top of it), I contacted Audrey who graciously made arrangements for Jacob Lujan (then a work-study employee, now a Full-Time DL Technician) to accompany me on a trip to document the commemoration. Sydney Gunthorpe, Vice President of Academic Affairs, graciously provided the funds–in conjunction with the DL budget, to travel on last-minute notice to attend the various commemorations. As noted later in this text, several different memorials that present different perspectives continue to this day each year in Columbus. Without the support of CNM administrators, including President Katharine Winograd who spearheaded the idea for this type of project, we would not have been able to capture the re-creation that takes place each year in Columbus.
Such is the story of how this e-text came to fruition. I was approached with the question of whether or not I could write it, and numerous people from CNM and outside institutions have supported me in the effort. Ever since I began to study New Mexico History, under the tutelage of UNM professors Samuel Truett and Durwood Ball, I have heard the common sentiment that existing textbooks on New Mexico History were not up to the task of undergraduate education. I hope that my attempt provides a fresh interpretation of the region’s past.
As I’ve expressed below in Chapter 1, I fully realize that this work is not perfect–that it cannot possibly cover every perspective, event, or aspect of New Mexico’s rich and widely varied past. No single book can. I hope, however, that this text will provide many avenues through which students can develop their critical analysis skills by undertaking new pursuits in New Mexico History. I am of the school of thought that firmly believes that no narrative can ever address all questions. Instead, I hope that this work inspires a series of new historical inquiries. If such is the case, my work will be fulfilled.
Early in the pursuit of the dream of an interactive, online New Mexico History text, CNM enlisted the aid of Trillium Productions. At Trillium, Roger Brown, Gaylon Emerzian, and Nelson Taruc provided constant attention to this endeavor. In particular, Gaylon spent countless hours that included numerous emails, trips to New Mexico, and time in front of a computer screen, dedicated to securing the numerous images, interviews, and interactive features that are included in this text. Additionally, researchers Debbie Busch, Kayleigh Madjar, Sam Rong, Barb Cameron, Adam deSantis, Ingrid Franca, Zach Silva, April McDonnell, Joel Rao, Dominique Ochoa, and Kirby Barth aided in the quest for images that would compliment the text and, in many ways, offer their own perspectives on New Mexico’s various histories.
Cathleen Kane of Direct Video in Albuquerque organized and produced the early video shoots that accompany the text. Jonathan Sims, himself a member of the Acoma Pueblo, was behind the camera at many of our interview sessions. Cathleen and Jonathan both have a great eye for video production, and Gaylon, with the support of her editing crew, including Sam Johnston, Alessandro Medici, and Marissa Cameron, transformed the raw footage into the rich interviews that you will find in the text.
Keith Dadey drew the maps, and I appreciate his flexibility and dedication to ensuring that each map is accurate for the time period that it portrays. Marissa Cameron and Barb Cameron aided him as members of the Trillium Graphics Crew. Finally, Roger Brown and Kirby Barth oversaw the acquisition of international images and figures. Without the dedication of all of the members of the Trillium Productions staff, this text would be nothing more than another static treatment of New Mexico History.
Cathleen and Gaylon were able to secure interviews with members of Acoma Pueblo, and they established a connection with Andrew Connors, curator of the Albuquerque Museum. They also brought Christine Sims, Vina Leno, Emmet Garcia, David Patterson, Marvis Aragon, Juanita Toledo, Melissa Sanchez, and Jaylyn Atsye into the project. Jacob Lujan brought Jason García on board. I called on many of my colleagues, including Paul A. Hutton, Bryan Turo, Matthew Martínez, Deena González, David Correia, David Holtby, and Xeturah Woodley, to provide their unique professional insights on different aspects of New Mexico’s past. I am grateful for the contribution that each of these people provided.
Various members of CNM’s Distance Learning department supported this project. Melanie Magdalena came on board as the Multimedia Specialist a few months into the project. Her expertise in multimedia, as well as project management, proved invaluable to the timely completion of this text in its final form. I am also grateful that she was able to locate the Inkling platform that has enabled the availability of this text across devices. Jacob Lujan has been involved with the project from the beginning. José Pedraza recorded the voiceovers for many of the videos. Gene Higgins copyedited sections of the text and wrote the chapter objectives. Matthew Padilla handled travel vouchers and navigated the administrative bureaucracy to enable Trillium Productions’ participation in the project. Hallie Ray, Julie Good, Patricia Miera, and Glenys Thompson also provided behind-the-scenes support.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Jacobo Baca and Roland Rodríguez. Both were teaching as adjunct instructors during the year that I wrote this text, and both edited my work–not just for grammatical issues, but also to insure the soundness and validity of the historical interpretations. Jacobo and Roland are both experts in New Mexico and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History. Despite the constraints on their time and resources (both were finishing their Ph.D. Dissertations and teaching when I asked them to edit this project), they provided excellent feedback and challenged my thinking on various aspects of New Mexico’s histories. Without their support, the result would surely be lacking in rigor. Of course any mistakes or omissions are my sole responsibility.
My colleagues at CNM who also teach New Mexico History, including Kara Carroll, Ellen Cain, and Andy Russell, have also provided encouraging words along the way. Erica Volkers, the Dean of the school of Communications, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CHSS), graciously supported my year of course releases and other types of financial needs that allowed me to take the time required to write the text. I may sound like a broken record at this point, but I am so deeply grateful for the excellent institutional support that I received for every step of this project.
Students in my New Mexico History classes in the spring of 2015 were able to use a bare-bones version of the text in order to provide feedback and help me fix unwieldy prose. In particular, Ashley Flores, Reina Archuleta, Caitlin Coppotelli, and Leticia Topa contributed multiple choice questions that appear in the final version of the e-text. I appreciate the great dedication of all of my students and their willingness to offer unique insights on New Mexico’s past.
Finally, Pauline, Brent, Nathan, and Paige had to put up with an overly busy husband and father for the past couple of years. Without their understanding, love, and support this text would never have come to fruition.
¡Gracias a todos!