New Digs: Santa Fe Style V

June 18th, 2014, 7am

Each year about this time, we pull up stakes from Australia and make our way to Santa Fe, New Mexico, my favorite city in North America. It’s the oldest capital city in the US, founded by the Spanish a little over ten years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. More to the point, this area has been continuously occupied by Pueblo peoples for more than a thousand years. Twenty one Pueblo tribes still live in the region, but also Navajo, Apache and other native peoples have long lived in and around New Mexico.

Santa Fe is a great place to be indigenous. Native art and native culture are widely respected, due to the good work of several museums and educational institutions, particularly the Institute of American Indian Arts, where I have worked as an adjunct faculty member since 1999. In addition, there are many commercial art galleries specializing in Native American art and culture. Finally, for about 90 years the annual Santa Fe Indian Market has made the city a real crossroads for Native American cultures from all parts of the country.

Hispanic culture is still the predominant cultural force in the town, although Spanish-speaking residents now constitute a little less than half the population. Much of the art and design, and most of the architecture, in the city is strongly constrained by Hispanic colonial traditions. White America, as such, is represented by an astonishing mix of influences: hippies (now mostly in their seventies) and would-be hippies; real life cowboys; conservative Texas millionaires; liberal East Coast retirees; and alternative life style people of all descriptions.

Over the next month or two, I hope to write a little more about this “neck of the woods” (an Algonquin word according to Bill Bryson).

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David Wade Chambers

Born in Oklahoma: 30 years in US. 6 years in Canada, 40 years in Australia. Academic field: history and philosophy of science. Currently, teach indigenous studies online at Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Brandon University (Manitoba). Come visit our B&B on Australia's Great Ocean Road. Mate's Rates for Hi community! (

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