By Miguel Pérez
First of a series
Can you think of a better place to begin our new journey than at “La Jornada?” I can’t!
This impressive statuary, featuring numerous bronze statues depicting “The Journey” made by the first Hispanic settlers of Nuevo Mexico in 1598, has been the subject of some controversy here in Albuquerque in recent years. At least one of the statues, that of the expedition leader, Juan de Oñate, has been removed. I intend to dig into this issue this week, and report on it later. But for now, I want to celebrate the part of “La Jornada” that is still here.
It represents the caravan from Mexico of “nearly 600 settlers accompanied by Mexican Indian allies and Franciscan friars,” who finally settled in San Juan de Caballeros, the first capital of New Mexico, according to the monument’s inscription.
The monument, created by Betty Sabo and Sonny Rivera and built in 2005, also features a series of plaques listing the names of “Families Accompanying Oñate in 1598.” But ironically Oñate is no longer one of them.
“Driving thousands of sheep, pigs, goats, cattle, mules, and horses before them, men women and children overcame the hardships of the next seven months on the jornada,” the inscription explains. “The heroic Jornada of 1598 to New Mexico is an important part of our national history.”
They established the road (from Mexico City to northern New Mexico) that became known as El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, The Royal Road of the Interior.
We’ll be traveling on El Camino Real for the next few days, and visiting the Indian villages the Spanish called “pueblos.” But next we have to go the Spanish-style town square known as Old Town Albuquerque. In this Spanish-Mexican-American city, everything emanates from there.
To read other parts of this ongoing series, click: EXPLORING NEW MEXICO