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Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá, an officer of the expedition who wrote the first history of New Mexico, found it significant that El Paso and Jerusalem lay on the same latitude.
The mutely receptive setting, the spare and sunlit stage, was the Indians'.Historians in the modern, or postmodern, period have demurred.Estevan Rael-Gálvez, recently the state historian of New Mexico, planned a book that he called The Silence of Slavery: Narratives of American Indian and Mexican Servitude and Its Legacy.Rael-Gálvez is proud to have uncovered Native Americans in his family tree.He probably speaks for the majority of historians when he says that the story of the United States is that cultural strains are erased, and that indigenous strains are erased most of all.The story begins in 1598, when an expedition of several hundred Spanish colonists led by Juan de Oñate crossed the Rio Grande near present-day El Paso. Some of the officers and civilians had brought along their wives and children.
Spearheading the entrada was a tatterdemalion group of friars in gray robes.
Unlike earlier conquests in the Americas, whose object was treasure, the northern extension of New Spain was intended to be peaceful and evangelical.
puroticorico/Flickr For geneticists, the story of the creation of New Mexico and New Mexicans is straightforward: Spaniards mated with Native Americans, the result a hybrid people called Hispanos.
For centuries, Hispanos have told themselves and the outside world they were Spanish; time and again Spanish was the face put forward by the local historians.
Since history is written by the victors, as Winston Churchill said, the founding of New Mexico starred bold Spanish conquistadors and toiling Franciscan friars.
Watching a Western they never grew tired of, Hispanos saw themselves pass from noble Spanish origins through a brief phase of Mexican rule to a shotgun marriage with Anglo Americans, which turned out happily by the time the credits rolled.