Voices of the Valley Features Rancher Gary Sandoval

The Voices of the Valley is an oral history project by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) that explores and documents the relationship between culture and natural resources in the San Luis Valley, placing emphasis on the particular meanings that inhabitants associate with the communities they live in.  SdCNHA would like to share some of Gary Sandoval’s oral history. The complete interview can be seen at SdCNHA’s YouTube Channel: SangreNHA.

Gary Sandoval grew up as the son of the foreman of the prominent T-Bone ranch, which is located about 10 miles east of Antonito, CO.  Gary enjoyed growing up in the ranching lifestyle, watching his father work hard. The T-Bone ranch had a summer grazing ground in Vallacito, NM where Gary has fond memories of working with his dad, the horses and life by the streams. Each day he could hardly wait to get up and get going, and this instilled in him a love of ranching. He knew that to become a rancher he would have to work hard to save up some money, so Gary decided to work in the Perlite mines to save money. The Perlite mines were hard and physical work and he noticed that most hispanics were given the hard labor jobs while the whites were given the jobs of running machinery. He did not take much offense to this as he was focused on working hard, saving money and starting a ranch within his goal of 5 years time. After nine years of hard work at the mines he was not able to catch up enough financially to be able to purchase his own land and cattle outright and decided to look at other means to make his ranch a reality.

Gary was aware that the FHA was now in the area and was offering loans to ranchers. The first time he visited a loan officer was with his father. He remembers the respect people showed to his father for his outstanding work at the T-Bone Ranch.  He did not get the loan due to “lack of  experience”, which surprised Gary since he had spent his whole life around ranching. Gary didn’t give up and continued to go on his own to ask for a loan. In one initial interview he asked for financing for 200 acres and 50 head of cattle and machinery. The loan officer said that adding machinery in to the loan would make it very large and unprobable. Gary returned home and spoke with his father who suggested going back to the loan officer and asking for just the land and cattle and Gary could use his father’s equipment. The loan officer met him once again and said they would let him know. A letter came in the mail saying that he didn’t qualify.


Gary did not lay blame on the FHA at this point. He just figured that was the way it was, and he would just keep working on his ranching dream little by little. He would gain the experience they were asking for by starting small. He used the money he had to raise 10 head of cattle successfully for some time. He went back to apply for a loan. He was again denied.


Gary and his brother were team ropers and had built a friendship with the 2 loan officers who made up another roping team.  Gary went to them in their offices to apply for yet another loan. They told Gary they weren’t taking applications because there was no money available. He took the loan officers at their word, that there were no funds, until he started talking with his anglo friends who were getting numerous loans from FHA.  They encouraged Gary to go back and apply, but Gary was always told there was no money.


Through a contact from the Perlite mine, Gary become aware of a different  loan he could apply for through the credit union. He applied and got the $15,000 loan at 11% interest. The FHA interest rate would have been 3-4%. At this point Gary was able to start his ranch, but had to continue working at the perlite mines and had to take another job bucking bales to keep up with the payments at that interest rate,  He never missed a payment.


Through coffee shop talk, the ranchers began to notice a very noticeable trend in loans awarded in the San Luis Valley and in northern New Mexico. The Hispanic ranchers were getting no loans from the FHA while their anglo friends were getting numerous large loans.  This was noticeable at the grazing grounds and at the sale. This was when they first began to piece together that they were being discriminated against, and they banded together to create change through the Garcia v. Vilsack lawsuit. The process was complicated and it required much documentation that was missing or lost over time. Richard Gomez, who had worked for the FHA home loans and was now retired, encouraged his friends not to give up their pursuit. He volunteered his knowledge on the side of the Hispanic ranchers in preparation for their case. In the end the case took a long time to resolve and many ranchers were unable to regain their losses while the few that had the necessary documentation did gain some financial retribution.


In the end Gary states that ranching has to be in your heart, and it sure is still in his.

To watch Gary’s oral history video,  learn more about SdCNHA and their oral history project, Voices of the Valley, or to nominate someone to be interviewed visit www.sdcnha.org, email infor@sdcnha.org or call (719)588-4070

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SdCNHA 3rd Teacher Workshop a Success!



On Friday April 6th, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the University of Colorado at Boulder hosted their third teacher workshop in the San Luis Valley.  The workshop focused on stories along Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway and the Courageous Conversations that can take place in classrooms revolving around those stories.  

The 28 educators who attended the workshop started the morning watching four Alamosa High School students (Luz Gonzalez, Jazmine Palacios, Andrea Rodriguez and Jaqueline Palacios) perform their script, Chicano Rights: Conflict and Compromise in the San Luis Valley ,written for this year’s regional history fair. The student presentation demonstrated that the fight for equality among race is just as prevalent today as it was 50 years ago. One part of the presentation spoke about the car bombings that occurred during the Chicano Rights Movement in Fort Collins and named those who lost their lives. One attendee of the workshop had been present at the event and was close to those who suffered for the cause.  An emotional memory was sparked and the woman, fighting back tears, thanked the students for keeping the memory of those who lost their lives alive by creating and sharing their presentation.

The students also spoke about the creation of the Sociedad Protección Mutua de Trabajadores Unidos (S.P.M.D.T.U.), which translates as the Society for the Mutual Protection of United Workers. This society was founded in 1900 to combat discrimination, work for social and economic rights, celebrate their culture, and provide basic social insurance programs such as unemployment and burial aid. In the 1920’s the society built the  Concilio Superior building as its headquarters in Antonito, CO. The building is now designated as a National Historic Site. Attendees then took a field trip to visit the historical S.P.M.D.T.U building with the Hermanos (Brothers) of the organization.


Tori Martinez, Executive Director for SdCNHA, spoke with the educators about the importance of place-based learning in the classroom. Place-based learning allows students to engage with the history that surrounds them within the place they call home. There is so much history and culture in the San Luis Valley, it makes a perfect location to encourage teachers to incorporate place-based learning stories that fall along Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway and the Courageous Conversations that can take place in classrooms revolving those stories to their lesson plans. By allowing students to connect with local culture and history it empowers them to take ownership of the stories and builds a sense of pride about the community they live in.  “These communities hold powerful and historically significant stories that honor culture, history and traditions.”

SdCNHA shared how to access their Primary and Secondary resources and lesson plans available on their website www.sdcnha.org/education. Primary sources are the voices of the past. They are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects which were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts or interpretations of events created by someone without firsthand experience.  Documents, letters, posters, film, artifacts, photographs, maps, etc. can be primary sources that tell the story of people, places, and events of the past. According to the Library of Congress, “Examining primary sources gives students a powerful sense of history and the complexity of the past. Helping students analyze primary sources can also guide them toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.” A secondary source is one that gives information about a primary source. These sources contain second hand information that has already appeared in primary documents. In this source, the original information is selected, modified and arranged in a suitable format for the purpose of easy location by the users.Secondary sources involve generalization, analysis, synthesis, interpretation, or evaluation of the original information

Margorie McIntosh from UC at Boulder shared her Latino History Project and donated 9 books to the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area to use as permanent resources. Evelyn Firman, Boulder Valley secondary school teacher, and Flora Sanchez, retired Boulder Valley elementary school teacher came to present at the workshop to show their success with using place based learning in their lessons plans and presented on how teachers in the San Luis Valley could incorporate the same principles. Flora Sanchez spoke to the group about how to hold courageous conversations in the classroom and why it’s  important to not shy away from talking about race and other difficult topics in education.

Lindsay Pruett from Great Sand Dunes National Park showed some of the hands on and place-based learning they use with visitors and how that can be moved into the classroom.

Participants from the workshop are in the process of each writing a lesson plan featuring place-based learning within the San Luis Valley. Once submitted, SdCNHA will post the lessons plans to their education page for all teachers to have access to. Lesson plans about the San Luis Valley from past workshops have been about Historical Picture Analysis, Identity Quilt and Spanish Language. Lesson plans in the works cover a variety of topics including: mythology, virtual reality tour of history sites, photo analysis of family members, and the qualities of a good citizen featuring local community members, among others.

To learn more about SdCNHA or to access educational resources please visit www.sdcnha.org, email info@sdcnha.org or call (719)580-4070

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Voices of the Valley features Dennis Lopez

The Voices of the Valley is an oral history project by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) that explores and documents the relationship between culture and natural resources in the San Luis Valley, placing emphasis on the particular meanings that inhabitants associate with the communities they live in.

The SdCNHA would like to share some of the topics covered in just one interview with local Valley resident Dennis Lopez. Dennis Lopez is the Vice President for SdCNHA and was one of the founders of the organization.  He is a big supporter of the Voices of the Valley project.

“The history of a people is most often conveyed from person to person by way of one on one dialogue.  It is through these stories that history comes alive and portrays an actual event that is memorable and provides a tradition, a value, a moral, or an event of significant importance to the particular community. Recording these oral histories is of vital importance and urgency because the repositories of these stories are the elderly tradition bearers of our culture.  These histories need to be preserved before they are lost in time as our elders slowly pass away.  Our history is what grounds us and gives us a foundation upon which we can build and move forward as a people.”

Dennis Lopez

This week Chicano Activism is celebrated as Saturday March, 31 is Cesar Chavez day. Cesar Chavez was a prominent union leader and labor organizer. Hardened by his early experience as a migrant worker, Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962. His union joined with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee in its first strike against grape growers in California, and the two organizations later merged to become the United Farm Workers. Stressing nonviolent methods, Chavez drew attention for his causes via boycotts, marches and hunger strikes. Despite conflicts with the Teamsters Union and legal barriers, he was able to secure raises and improve conditions for farm workers. The San Luis Valley has a close connection to this part of history and SdCNHA would like to share a few key excerpts from Dennis Lopez’s oral history:

Dennis Lopez was raised at the edge of the foothills of the San Juan Mountains in the small town of Capulin.  His connection to the mountains and to his family roots in the San Luis Valley influenced him to stay in the Valley and share his knowledge with the community. Dennis attended what he calls a “Catholic Public School” in Capulin from the first through the 10th grades.  The school was public and funded by the state but the teachers were nuns from the local parish. During his junior year the Capulin School consolidated with Centauri School District.  This was a big change of culture for the students of Capulin. They now were taught by public school teachers in a community that was very Anglo and the sense of rejection was very real for Mr. Lopez and for the other students trying to acclimate. There was a sense of rejection brought upon them for speaking Spanish and for being culturally different. This rejection sparked a passion in Dennis that would push him to delve into where he came from, his culture, his language and pushed him to learn and instill pride in himself. With the intent to teach, Dennis graduated from Adams State College with a BAs in Spanish, French and Education, an M.A. in Secondary Education with a minor in Chicano Studies and an EDL from the University of Denver. He jumped right in to lead Alamosa High School’s first Chicano Studies program and taught there for 18 years before entering education administration.

Dennis remembers participating in the local lettuce, grape and Coors boycotts in the San Luis Valley during the movement and identifies as a Chicano.  He explains in his oral history video what the term Chicano means and the complex nature of identity for settlers of the San Luis Valley. The Spaniards came to Mexico in 1492 and took over power between the years of 1519 and 1521. Spain was in control for nearly 300 years. In 1820 Mexico gained its independence from Spain and this area became Mexican territory from 1820 until 1848. In 1848 this area then became US territory. Because the Spanish reign was the longest, it had a stronger influence and some local people identify as Spanish, but the US government used the title Mexican-American.

When young men from the region went to serve in the military in the 1940’s and 50’s they discovered they were not treated as second class citizens for being “Mexican-American” but were treated with respect by the rank they held.  When they returned they again were discriminated against. Americans didn’t treat them like equal Americans nor did Mexicans treat them as equal Mexicans. This pushed the people to create an environment that was fair and encouraged them to establish their own identity. Learning that the original people from which their culture stemmed were Mestizo, a mix of Spanish and Mechica, known today as Aztecs, who were called Mechicanos.  They took away the “me” and were left with the term Chicano as their identity. It was the US government that created the term Hispanic for the US Census in 1980 that lumped together all people with Spanish language last names even though some were Puerto Rican, Cuban, South American, Central American, Mexican and US Chicanos. Then in 2000 the Census Bureau changed the term to Latino.

“I find the term Latino to be an insult.” says Dennis. “The term Latino comes from when Napoleon sent Maximilian to rule Mexico after Mexico lost the Mexican-American War in 1860. Mexico couldn’t repay France for their aid during the war so they sent Maximilian to rule the area as a French territory. Maximilian didn’t want the people to be called French, because they didn’t look like French and he didn’t see them as equals. He didn’t want them to identify as Mexican or Spanish either, so he came up with a new term for them, he called them Latino.”

Dennis goes on to talk about the importance of the unique dialect of Spanish in the San Luis Valley that is spoken nowhere else in the world, the changes in Catholic Church traditions he has observed, how important community is and how he has watched people leave the SLV only to return “home” later in life.

To watch the full oral history interview visit the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area’s YouTube channel: SangreNHA. This channel is free and publicly accessible and posts a new oral history video each week.  If you would like to help support Voices of the Valley you can become a member of SdCNHA. If you would like to recommend someone to be interviewed, contact Tori Martinez. We are also asking for a donation of a TV screen and headphones for the Conejos Museum so visitors can view these important oral histories.

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Conejos County Museum to Reopen


The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area has partnered with the Conejos County Commissioners to reopen the Conejos Museum in Antonito. The Conejos County Museum and Visitor Center preserves the history of the people, cultures and towns of Antonito, Sanford, La Jara, Manassa, and Mogote.


SdCNHA will now manage the building and will be open Tuesday’s and Friday’s from 9am to 5pm starting in late April. Conejos County is one of the three counties within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, due to its rich history in the development of the state of Colorado. “We are excited to partner with the Conejos County Commissioners on this project. It’s our hope to expand upon the existing exhibits and showcase the beauty, and unique culture and history of the heritage area,” said Tori Martinez, Executive Director for SdCNHA.


The heritage are is looking for volunteers to help with cleaning up the landscape surrounding the museum and painting the exterior of the building on a community work day, which will take place on Saturday April 7th. The museum is also in need of a few donations. There is a need for a flat screen television with USB connections. The flat screen will be used to show the oral history videos of the Voices of the Valley project. In addition some high quality headphones are also needed that can be connected to the television.


SdCNHA is also asking members of the community for donations of items that are significant to the culture and people of the area to add to the collection already housed at the museum. The current museum collection has a wildlife display courtesy of the Department of Wildlife that includes a black bear, mountain lion, antelope, ram, mountain goat, and otter. Donations sought include items that showcase the SPMDTU, the conejos land grant, items regarding the Rio Grande and the Cumbres trains, and the historic settlement to the area.


The heritage area is redesigning the interior signage of the museum, as such they are opening up the opportunity to local graphic designers who would like to volunteer their time to assist with this project.  In addition, cash donations will be used to improve exhibits and create the interpretive signage.


In February Matt Wilson from National Park Service visited the museum. After meeting with County Commissioner Mitchell Jarvies and County Administrator Tressesa Martinez, Mr. Wilson provided a detailed report to Tori Martinez, Executive Director of SdCNHA regarding recommendations for the future of the museum.


Thus far, gracious volunteers, like Antonito local Jonathan Armenta, have helped to paint the interior walls of the museum, the interior floor, and rearrange exhibits.

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Sign up to Attend the Next SLV Place-based Teacher Workshop


The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and Colorado University at Boulder are proud to present our third place-based teacher workshop.

This free, one-day workshop will take place on Friday, April 6th, 2018, from 9am to 4pm in the South Conejos School District building.  Lunch will be provided and all participants will earn continuing education units along with a $100 stipend upon completion of a lesson plan at the workshop. A limited number of seats are available for this event so please sign up as soon as possible. All San Luis Valley teachers and administrators are invited to attend, whether currently employed, retired, or in training. Community members and organizations who work with students are also invited to attend.

Workshops topics will focus on the stories along Los Caminos Scenic and Historic Byway and the Courageous Conversations that can take place in class rooms revolving those stories. The day will start off by featuring a student presentation Chicano Rights: Conflict and Compromise in the San Luis Valley given by Alamosa High School students Jazmine Palacios, Jaqueline Palacios, Luz Garcia and Andrea Rodriguez. These young women created this presentation for the regional history fair and will be moving on to the state competition April 30th in Denver. Presentations by Tori Martinez, Executive Director of SdCNHA and educators from CU at Boulder follow.

Participants will have the opportunity to tour the interior of the S.P.M.D.T. U. building in Antonito along main street. Hermanos of the society will be present to discuss the unique history of this organization and its influence in the San Luis Valley and the country.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and CU Boulder will provide trainers experienced in creating curricula in line with Colorado state standards that focus on the local culture, history, and heritage. Come learn about the heritage area’s collection of primary sources, research, and oral history videos that will be available to local teachers for creating place-based lesson plans.  All lesson plans created at the workshop will be available for teachers state-wide to share the unique history of the San Luis Valley at no cost. Educators interested in utilizing lesson plans already created can find them at www.SdCNHA.org/wp/education.

Sign up for the teacher workshop HERE

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SdCNHA Memberships New in 2018

There is quite a story to be told about the people and places in the San Luis Valley. This is a story with roots not only in southern Colorado, but the southern United States. It’s a national story about how our country was formed. It’s a story about the creativity, ingenuity, and resilience of the first Hispano, railroad, and agricultural communities in our country.

We are now offering memberships to the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area(SdCNHA) in 2018. As a Member of the SdCNHA you help us with our mission to preserve, promote and protect these critically important places and stories. Your financial support enables us to serve as the local “glue” binding our cultural, historic, and natural resource communities together. Your membership contribution will match federal and state grant funding to enable us to provide high-quality local programs, attractive and historic information for the people of our communities and those visiting our communities. In the past we have funded scholarships to local students, educational workshops, restorations to local historic buildings, funding for local water and land preservation organizations, funding for local geological studies, the documentation of local oral histories, music and art and much more.

Make a donation today for yourself, your family or in honor of someone who has loved or lived in the heritage area. See your donation reinvested directly into our communities to serve as a source of much needed funding for all our initiatives to build partnerships in education, interpretation, stewardship, heritage development and tourism promotion throughout the region.  We thank you for your ongoing support.

Click here to Become a Member

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2019 Grant Cycle Now Open

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) is pleased to announce our 2019 grant application cycle is now open.

Grants from the SdCNHA are intended to encourage local cultural and historic heritage preservation activities, educational programs and support Heritage Tourism in Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla counties. Our past grantees have used grant funds to restore historic buildings; provide historical and cultural interpretation; restore or promote scenic, artistic and recreational resources; and to document culturally significant components of the way of life in the San Luis Valley. Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is administered by a non-profit board of volunteers who represent Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla Counties. Heritage Grants are available to local schools, municipalities, and non-profits annually. Please see our website for our mission, vision, and a list of past grants we’ve awarded. http://sdcnha.org/wp/grants/

The selection process is competitive, and applicants are encouraged to develop proposals carefully utilizing the Heritage Area Management Plan Goals and Objectives. You can find these resources on our Management Plan page http://sdcnha.org/wp/management-plan/. Funding is available up to $25,000.

If your organization or project supports the efforts and mission of the heritage area we would love to partner with you! Visit our website www.sdcnha.org for more information. Please feel free to contact us if you have an idea for a grant or have any questions about this process at info@sdcnha.org, (719) 580-4070 or at our office located at 623 4th Street in Alamosa.

Applicants will be notified of status in August of 2018 and funding will be available in 2019.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 1st, 2019 by 5:00 p.m. (Postmarked: SdCNHA, P.O. Box 844, Alamosa, CO 81101, or delivered by hand – 623 4th Street, Alamosa, CO).


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SdCNHA Executive Director advocates in Washington DC

Tori Martinez, Executive Director for the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) spent the week in Washington DC speaking with Senators and Congressmen to advocate for funding and legislation to support Colorado’s three National Heritage Areas.

The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is the farthest south in the state. South Park National Heritage Area is in Central Colorado and Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area is along the northern state line.

President Ronald Reagan and his administration wanted a cost-effective way to tell America’s stories and conserve the nation’s unique cultural, natural, and historic resources. In the last 30 years this has come to fruition by the creation of 49 National Heritage Areas (NHAs) throughout the country. These NHA’s have initiated and grown partnerships with local businesses, non-profit groups, and local governments.

The 49 National Heritage Areas have come together to form the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) together they’ve worked with the National Park Service and members of Congress to draft the National Heritage Area Act of 2017, H.R. 1002.

This bill accomplishes several things. It establishes a standardized set of criteria for new NHAs. It establishes a rigorous process for existing NHAs to ensure accountability. This bill modernized the program to ensure long-term sustainability. It clearly defines an oversight structure that will allow these popular public/private partnerships to better preserve the nation’s heritage and spur economic growth with minimal federal support while remaining consistent with recommendations of both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Due to delays in congress passing the 2018 budget, this year’s funding has yet to be released to the 49 National Heritage Areas. This has placed a hold on starting any new projects, programs, or releasing any grant funds to local partners. Colorado residents can assist the SdCNHA to continue heritage preservation work in the San Luis Valley by writing to your Congressman asking they sign on to support H.R. 1002. You can also write to your Colorado Senators asking they assist in the joint creation of a companion bill in the Senate. H.R. 1002 currently has 59 cosigners in the house and strong bipartisan support. This bill will stabilize federal funding essential to the SdCNHA and the other 48 National Heritage Areas.

National Heritage Areas help to preserve, protect and share significant parts of the nation’s histories and landscapes. They also support tens of thousands of jobs and contribute billions of dollars to local economies. NHAs are catalysts for economic development in the communities in which they are located. According to the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, “An independent 2012 study by Tripp Umbach found that NHAs’ overall annual economic impact in the U.S. is $12.9 billion, which significantly exceeds the amount of federal funding provided to NHAs by as much as 5:1. The economic impact is comprised of three main areas: tourism, operational expenditures and grantmaking activities; the majority of impact (99%) is generated by tourism spending.

The economic impact was significant in two ways:
$4.6 billion in direct impact, which includes tourist spending, NHA operational expenditures and grantmaking activities; $8.3 billion in indirect and induced impacts, which includes employee spending and businesses supporting the tourism industry.


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What is the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area?

National Heritage Areas are places where history, cultural and natural wonders intersect with everyday places where people live, work, and play. An NHA is a region that may cross state and county boundaries that has been recognized and designated by Congress for its unique contribution to the nation’s history. NHA’s are guided by the National Park Service but they are run by local organizations and partnerships interested in promoting and preserving unique resources. In short, the NHA’s tell America’s story. Our land, culture and history are a living, breathing part of American History that should be treasured, preserved and shared. Our history here in the San Luis Valley is just as important and significant as the landing at Plymouth or the battlefields of the Civil War. The United States currently has 49 designated and active National Heritage Areas throughout the country. The State of Colorado has three National heritage areas: the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, South Park National Heritage Area and Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area.  National Heritage Areas work in close partnership with the National Park Services, but are not part of the National Park Services.

The history of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is significant to the National story. The SdCNHA and is one of only two National Heritage Areas that celebrate Hispano heritage; the other being Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area in northern New Mexico. We also have an important history of settlements by Native Americans, explorers, Germans, Japanese, Caucasians, Mormans,  and most recently  Amish.  The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area was designated by congress in 2009. It is located in south-central Colorado, which includes more than 3,000 square miles of the San Luis Valley including: Alamosa, Costilla and Conejos Counties; the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; the Baca Wildlife Refuge and Preserve; and the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge.

With 11,000 years of documented human habitation, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area is a crossroads of the centuries. Here a unique blend of Native American, Hispano and Anglo settlement is reflected in the diversity of the people, art and traditions. The geographic isolation of our high desert valley and the peoples’ enduring ties to the land have given rise to a rich cultural heritage and ensured its preservation. The area’s fertile cultural landscape is complemented by remarkable natural resources, including the mighty Rio Grande, majestic Rocky Mountain peaks, Great Sand Dunes National Park, National Wildlife Refuges, and the high mountain desert, all of which lend the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area’s unparalleled beauty that offers a sense of retreat and a powerful source of inspiration for visitors.

“During 2017, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (SdCNHA) expanded its programming in pursuit of continued educational opportunities with local youth and visitors. First among these projects was the expansion of support for the oral history project that seeks to preserve the voices and unique perspectives of local storytellers and guardians of the region’s rich heritage. In the course of developing this project, the SdCNHA has begun working closely with educators in the local K-12 districts. In addition to partnering with teachers and local non-profit organizations to preserve the rich culture and history of the region, the SdCNHA launched a new partnership with fellow Colorado NHAs. Through a collaboration with the Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area and South Park National Heritage Area, the SdCNHA supported the development of the Colorado Heritage Journey (www.coheritagejourney.com) website and marketing campaign. This effort will spread knowledge of the San Luis Valley to communities throughout the state, inviting them to learn more about the place where Colorado began.” Nick Saenz SdCNHA Board President

The heritage area is dedicated to preserving the history of the San Luis Valley through several avenues.  The Heritage Area is special not only for its places but also for its people. We are fortunate that so many have shared their personal accounts of living in the heritage area. They have been interviewed by video producers, historians and friends. Their first-hand accounts add a richness to our understanding of the area and provide a unique historical record. You can view our oral histories on our YouTube channel (Sangre NHA).

Closely tied to the mission of the heritage area is the protection of the land, water and historic buildings. We work closely with the State Historic Preservation office to place historic buildings on the National Register of Historic Places as well as providing supplemental grants for the restoration of historical buildings. The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area has an annual cycle for our Heritage Grants. These grants are available to local organizations working to promote the mission of the National Heritage Area by restoring historic buildings, providing interpretation, restoring/promoting scenic and recreational resources or documenting culturally significant components of the way of life in the San Luis Valley. These efforts will support Heritage Preservation and Tourism and promote the counties of Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla.

Grants from the SdCNHA are intended to encourage local cultural and historic heritage preservation activities and educational programs. These may include projects dedicated to interpretation and way-finding, conservation, or recreation with a heritage or cultural emphasis. SdCNHA grants are awarded to help stimulate local discussion and participation and, at best, are the catalyst for community and partner collaborations. A small grant at the right time can go a long way toward inspiring a community or an organization to take action on a cultural or heritage project. Our grant cycle will open March 1st, 2018 and the deadline for submissions in June 1st, 2018.

Education is also a passion for SdCNHA. We have developed information and activities designed to assist teachers and educators in the preservation of our rich heritage. All activities have been designed to be adapted for classroom use. The activities can be altered, as needed, for age, ability level, curriculum area, or for any other reason necessary to make them useful within the classroom. The activities are in pdf format. Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these documents. You have permission to print out the information and activities you want to use, and you may adapt anything to meet your needs. Beginning this year, 2018, the SdCNHA started offering Field Trip Grants as well. These grants encourage field trips which foster the study of land and water, local history, local heritage, local culture, archaeology, an understanding of place, and the natural and human resources that we use and conserve. Applications for field trip grants and lesson plans can be found at www.sdcnha.org.wp/educate

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SdCNHA Awards Scholarships to Local Students

The SdCNHA is proud to provide an annual scholarship to students who participate in the District History Fair, part of the National History Day Competition. Eligible student projects must be based on a theme involving local history, culture, or traditions within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. The SdCNHA is proud to award $4,000 in scholarships this year to 10 local middle and high school students. The event was hosted by the Adams State University Department of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, and Spanish (HAPPSS). This year’s theme is Conflict and Compromise in History.

“This year’s round of annual district History Day submissions demonstrated the broad array of historical topics that arise from the study of the San Luis Valley’s rich heritage. Participants rose to the occasion with a presentation of several well-researched and thoughtful projects. The Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area Board of Directors was proud to support this event as an investment in developing the next generation of our region’s heritage stewards,” said Nick Saenz, board President.

William Lipke from St. Peter’s Lutheran School, received $1,000 for his outstanding presentation of Chief Ouray: A Life of Conflict and Compromise. “I chose Chief Ouray to be my topic because he intrigued me. Instead of fighting, Ouray worked for peace even though he was a war chief and fierce fighter in his tribe. He only wanted to help his people save their land.” William wrote a script that showed the conflict and compromise Ouray experienced and presented his play in full costume. His play gave life and history of the Ute tribes, peace treaties, manifest destiny, gold in the San Juans, and the Meeker Massacre. He conducted his research by going to the Alamosa Public Library, reading books, looking at reliable websites and even spoke with a relative of Chief Ouray, Dr. Tiller. “My project relates to the theme because Ouray had many conflicts within his tribe and with the U.S. Government. However, he fought to find the best compromise to every situation. He is an example for all of us and for our country today.” Lipke will go on to present at the state competition in Denver.

Eric Lorenz, from Del Norte High School, wrote a paper on The Conflict and the Compromises of the Rio Grande River Compact and was awarded $600. “The Rio Grande River Compact was established in 1938 to make sure that Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas were sharing the Rio Grande’s water fairly. For many years there had been much conflict about who should use the water and also how it should be used. It was made to make sure that one state was not taking more water than it was supposed to.” Water from the Rio Grande is important to sustaining all of these areas because of the arid climates. His paper highlights the continuing dispute between these states over water from 1966-1968 and the current case of “The State of Texas v. the State of New Mexico and the State of Colorado” that has yet to be ruled on by the Supreme Court.”(It should be noted that Colorado is not being sued in this case but their name appears in the title because Colorado is upstream from New Mexico.)

Jazmine Palacios, Luz Garcia, Andrea Rodriquez and Jaqueline Palacios from Alamosa high school, each received $400 for their captivating presentation on Chicano Rights: Conflict and Compromise in the San Luis Valley. They covered information on Latino heritage, Spanish settlements in the SLV, discrimination of speaking Spanish, SPMDTU, activism protests, how discrimination in schools is decreasing for the next generations. This project will also go on to present at the state competition in Denver. The students addressed past oppressions to Hispanos and connected them to current issues. They also touched on the various ways in which the Hispano community has addressed these issues over the years. The girls spoke about the Chicano movement, the SPMDTU, ASU’s C.A.S.A., and ASU’s CAMP program.

Anthony Garcia, Angel Rubio-Mix and Cloe White from Sangre de Cristo school district, each received $250 for their wonderful visual exhibit of Billy Adams and the Compromise that Saved ASU. The conflict in this project is the Ku Klux Klan wanted to stop the bill that William Herbert Adams was trying to pass to get funds to build Adams State College. Billy Adams was able to get them to agree to back off and pass this bill and ASC was built in 1921.

Monte Huffaker from Centauri Middle School was also awarded $150 for his exhibit on Cattle in Colorado. Monte’s exhibit illustrated how cattle came to Colorado and the struggle to raise cattle. Monte touches on diseases ranchers had to contend with, as well as the sheep and cattle wars.

Tori Martinez, Executive Director of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, stated “We are so proud of all the students who chose to focus their projects on local history. Their work encourages others to do the same for next year’s history fair. They did a great job of educating locals on the importance of learning about their own culture, and the history of where they live.”

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