From Vaqueros to Rancheros: Hispanic Heritage on the Range

A “Cowboys Real and Imagined” event

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(505) 476-5019

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Event Description

New Mexico and the American West would know nothing of cowboys if it weren’t for the Spanish vaqueros who brought the first horses, sheep and cattle to the “new” world. Their equestrian techniques, clothing, boots, tools and tack can be seen today in canyons, plains, and backyard corrals. But will a ranching tradition that has survived land-grant swindles, droughts, storms, changing rules for leased lands, and global economic crises last another generation?

The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors welcomes members of a deep-rooted family to discuss those topics and share the traditions that molded them in “From Vaqueros to Rancheros: Hispanic Heritage on the Range.” Part of the exhibit Cowboys Real and Imagined, the event honors Hispanic Heritage Month. Abiquiu rancher Virgil Trujillo (pictured in the photo above, at right) and his father, Floyd Trujillo, will share stories, some of them by song, at 2 pm on Sunday, Sept. 22, in the History Museum Auditorium. The event is free with admission; Sundays are free to NM residents. (Every day is free to children 16 and under.)

Virgil Trujillo said he sees part of his daily work on the ranch as a way to meld the past with modern practices. He concedes that his son will likely not follow in his footsteps, but said he is close with his grandson and hopes to groom his generation to carry on. The deep-rooted Trujillo family is descended from Abiquiu’s early genízaro settlers – detribalized Indians who adopted Spanish culture and religion during New Mexico’s Spanish colonial era. Genízaro families began settling Abiquiu in 1754.

Cowboys Real and Imagined explores New Mexico’s cowboy legacy from its origin in the Spanish vaquero tradition through itinerant hired hands, outlaws, rodeo stars, cowboy singers, Tom Mix movies and more. The exhibit grounds the cowboy story in New Mexico through rare photographs, cowboy gear, movies and art. It includes a bounty of artifacts ranging in size from the palm-sized tintype of Billy the Kid purchased at a 2011 auction by William Koch to the chuck wagon once used by cowboys on New Mexico’s legendary Bell Ranch.

The exhibition is generously supported by the Brindle Foundation; Burnett Foundation; Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, Houston; Candace Good Jacobson in memory of Thomas Jefferson Good III; New Mexico Humanities Council; Newman’s Own Foundation; Palace Guard; Eugenia Cowden Pettit and Michael Pettit; Jane and Charlie Gaillard; Moise Livestock Company; the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association; and the many contributors to the Director’s Leadership, Annual Education, and Exhibitions Development Funds.

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