Albuquerque and Surrounding Communities (9)

Wednesday, 16 October 2019 01:01

Don Ambrosio Armijo's Roof - By Paula Vallejos

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“October 16. The century and year of 1898 (?) this roof was built by Don Ambrosio Armijo.”

If you’ve never seen this before it’s in Albuquerque's Old Town, just before you go into the Gorilla Graphix store. Look up. It’s very cool.

Friday, 20 September 2019 16:16

Don Francisco, the interpreter - by Chris Baca

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Storytelling Time

When I was a little kid, maybe 5-7 years old, my father would entertain the family after supper by telling us stories of his growing up years in Las Nutrias. We’d sit around in the kitchen table after it had been cleaned up and and listen to him spin his tales. Usually, he’d be sipping a cup of coffee and was totally relaxed. The kitchen would be nice and warm because the old stove was still giving out heat from the lleña that had helped cook my mom’s delicious meal including freshly rolled tortillas. The yummy smells of the recent meal still lingered in the air.

In between sips of coffee he would begin the story. My favorite one was about a pompous villager who would like to lord his command of the English language over the less capable English speakers from Las Nutrias. This must have been around 1910 or so. In those days few people spoke English as Spanish had been spoken in the area since the late 1600s. The area had been settled after the reconquista of New Mexico. In any case, Don Francisco (the “smartest man” in the community) would strut around the village blurting out phrases in
English and asking “Saben lo que yo dije?” “Do you know what I just said?” Of course, no one did. They would shake their heads “No!” He would snort out “Pues es porque yo se mas que ustedes.” “Well, it’s because I know more than you do.” He would strut away with his chin in the air having once again asserted his superior knowledge over the commoners of the little village.

Well, one day, one of the revered elders of the village, Don Tomas Baca, got ill and the curanderas weren’t able to cure him. So it was decided that he had to be taken to the town of Belen to see the only doctor in the area. The young doctor only spoke English. This was about 15 miles away and he had to be driven there in a buckboard. Don Francisco, the most “competent” English speaker, was assigned to go with Don Tomas to interpret for him.

Once they got there Don Tomas began to be examined by the doctor and Don Francisco has to explain to the patient and doctor what was being said. “What are your symptoms?” “Tengo un dolor aquí,”. and pointed to his stomach. “I have a pain here.” Except Don Francisco interpreted “dolor” or “pain” as “dollar”. The doctor was astonished “He has a dollar there?” Yes, nodded Don Francisco. “Did he swallow a coin?” “El médico quiere saber si usted se comió una dolar de plata?” Don Tomas was confused “Este médico no sabe
nada. Esta loco! Que tipo de medico es este? De caballos?” “This doctor doesn’t know anything. He’s crazy! What is he? A horse doctor?” The doctor continued his examination and told Don Francisco to tell Don Tomas to take off his clothes. The old man was hesitant but he was in a lot of pain so he disrobed and the doctor began poking and probing still wondering why Don Tomas had  swallowed a silver dollar. He worked his way down to his nether region and told him he was going to check for a hernia and needed to check his groin. “El médico piensa que tiene algo mal con sus huevos!” Don Tomas was frantic. What could possibly be wrong with his balls. Yes, they had shriveled a bit with age but they were quite functional in his mind. However, because he was in such pain he conceded to the request and the doctor asked Don Francisco to tell Don Tomas to turn his head and cough. “Que me está diciendo? No quiero que me toque los huevos!” “What is he saying? I don’t want him to touch my balls!” Don Francisco misinterprets cough as coffee so he says “Se me hace que le dice que toma mucho café!” “I think the doctor is telling you that you drink too much coffee.
Apparently, he can tell your drinking too much coffee by the weight of your balls!”

By then we were all laughing, tears rolling down our eyes. My dad would end the story by saying “Se le acabó el Ingles a ese pendejo, Don Francisco!” In essence “Don Francisco, the dumb ass, ran out of English!”

Obviously the pompous Don Francisco got his comeuppance when he got back to the village somewhat chagrined that he wasn’t as fluent in English as he thought. And Don Tomas was angry because he had been “manhandled” and couldn’t drink coffee anymore.

Story telling was and is an art form. My dad was an awesome story teller. We didn’t have a radio or TV so he was our entertainment.

Sunday, 25 August 2019 18:31

Albuquerque Metro area was once home to Apaches

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Metro area was once home to Apaches

By Dennis Herrick / Rio Rancho Author
Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Most Albuquerque-area residents know about Pueblo Indians. But what about the Faraon Apaches, whose base for many years was the Sandia and Manzano mountains?

Since the late 1590s, Spaniards called the Apaches of the Middle Rio Grande by the Spanish word “faraón” for pharaoh, a reference to Biblical Egyptians. Spaniards reported that the Faraon Apaches were allied with several pueblos against Spanish rule in 1692.

The new Spanish presence had disrupted much of the area’s traditional trading network, resulting in Faraones intensifying raid-and-trade at pueblos to obtain what they wanted or needed.

For Apaches too poor to buy horses – which were forbidden to them, anyway – the alternative was to steal them from Spanish herds at ranches and pueblos.

Most Albuquerque-area residents know about Pueblo Indians. But what about the Faraon Apaches, whose base for many years was the Sandia and Manzano mountains?

Since the late 1590s, Spaniards called the Apaches of the Middle Rio Grande by the Spanish word “faraón” for pharaoh, a reference to Biblical Egyptians. Spaniards reported that the Faraon Apaches were allied with several pueblos against Spanish rule in 1692.

The new Spanish presence had disrupted much of the area’s traditional trading network, resulting in Faraones intensifying raid-and-trade at pueblos to obtain what they wanted or needed.

For Apaches too poor to buy horses – which were forbidden to them, anyway – the alternative was to steal them from Spanish herds at ranches and pueblos.

Spaniards and their Pueblo allies would deploy numerous campaigns against Faraon Apaches to punish them for thefts of horses and other livestock. One of the campaigns came after Faraon Apaches raided settlers around Bernalillo and Alameda.

Historian John L. Kessell wrote about how a campaign launched in 1704 would end with the death of Diego de Vargas, who had reconquered pueblo country after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Vargas led the punitive expedition, marching south from Santa Fe to Alameda with Spaniards and Puebloan allies. The force found Faraones with stolen livestock at the “watering place of Carnué,” which was how Tijeras Pass was known then, but the Faraones escaped. Vargas and several expedition members became ill, and Vargas was taken to a Bernalillo home, where he died at the age of 60.

In June 1706, the year of Albuquerque’s founding, the new villa’s first alcalde mayor, Martin Hurtado, wrote about a visit by “the pagan Indians of the Faraon Apache nation.” Hurtado reported that Faraones “have constantly come to trade and barter with the Spanish inhabitants of the said Villa of Alburquerque (sic) and the Christian Indians of the mountain passes and towns of this district.”

Spanish Gov. Francisco Cuerbo y Valdés had predicted troubles with these same Apaches when he founded the villa, writing: “For (colonists’) security, I decided that a group of 10 soldiers of this presidio should go in a squad, taking their families to escort and guard them, because (the place) is in the main frontier of the barbarous … Faraones.”

Pecos Pueblo residents told Gov. Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón in 1714 that Faraones “make their base in the Sierra de Sandia from which they sally forth to rob horses and cattle” from pueblos and colonial ranches. Two days later, Faraones took the horse herd at Picuris Pueblo.

Gov. Mogollón reacted by ordering a campaign against Faraones near Bernalillo and Albuquerque, where Vargas had gone 11 years earlier. The force set out in 1715 and searched for weeks without finding any Faraones. It was suspected that someone had warned the Apaches.

As late as 1754, Gov. Tomás Vélez Cachupín noted that raids by one or another Apache band posed a threat to ranches and pueblos around Bernalillo and Albuquerque. By then, the area was also suffering from deadly attacks by Comanches on horseback from the Great Plains.

Author and former Journal reporter Sherry Robinson said some mid-1800s maps still labeled the area from Sandia Mountain to the Pecos River as Faraon territory, although the Faraon Apaches seem to have merged with the Mescaleros by then.

Although on every colonist’s mind in the 1600s and 1700s, today’s memories of the Faraon Apaches of the Sandia and Manzano mountains have faded to obscurity.

Dennis Herrick is author of “Winter of the Metal People” and “Faded Pueblos of the Tiguex War.”

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