Boot Prints in the Sand of Time
by F. G. Lopriato y Lopez
For better or worst, New Mexico's past in firmly rooted in the Italian boot. The deeper one digs into the hard Caliche clay of The Land of Enchantment, the more evidant that indesputible fact becomes...
One has but to scan the pages of history of the Queen Mother City of the state, Albuquerque, to see that the pllars of her community are names such as: Domenici, Mattuecci, Franchini, Schifani, Brunachini, Bonaguidi, Dinelli, Giomi, Del Frati,
lecioni,Pucetti, etc and more Italian family names than we can list here, but the Rozzi's and De Blassis will remember.Twice in its history Albuquerque has proudly numbered foreign born Italian immigrants as most prevalent in its census. Italians have been second only to Mexican foreign born immigrants in the city.
Why is it that first generation Italians faired so well in New Mexico? All kinds of conjectures have been handled every time that question is asked. From, "because everyone here is an immigrant in their own right" to " the Spanish culture, language, religion and temperament are similar." Youwould be closer to the truth if you choose the latter. The former has no basis in fact or in practice, but that is only part of the story.
First generation Italians didn't come here to colonize and exploit New Mexican society wit the intention of taking everything of value that was not nailed down and returning to their own home ground. No! They came here to be part of the society. To help it grow and to evolve together, improving as the society improved.
Oh Yes! There were many who came to line their own pockets. Some did just that and went back home, but most remained and became the best citizens in their town, county and state. Their children and grandchildren are now achieving national and international fame, Napolaone and Domenici for instance. By not resisting assimillation, Italian immigrants to New Mexico were able to slide into the vacuum created the the change in the state culture of New Mexico. Acting as a bridge bewteen a society that was undergoing transition from an agricultural society to an industrial society to a business society and from a Spanish speaking society to an English speaking society, from one system of education to another, and from one set of state values to another.
Was it Chance? The Will of God? Fate? Destiny? Or the experience of an older way of life that had already overcome similar conditions in the Old World? We'll never know, but one thing for certain is that Italian immigrant to New Mexico, even before the 1880's, rose higher and faster than Italians immigrants who chose Eastern states in which to settle. Italian immigrants to New Mexico may have been aware, but were not personally affected by Anti-Immigrant sentiments of the Nationalists Movement elsewhere that forced many Italians into isolation in "Little Italy's" seeking the aid of criminal organizations that expolited their own people.
You be the judge as we present the story of The Real Architects of New Mexico, in what promises to be last and longest series that the Wopajo Cry has ever undertaken.
The first Europeans, to set foot in what is now the Great American Southwest, were three survivors of the ill-fated Spanish expedition of what is now the State of Florida. What had begun as a sizeable force made up of several nationalities had been rebuffeted by the defending Indians of the peninsula, malaria and hunger which thinned their ranks. After killing their horse and eating the meat, they used the horse hides to fashion boats hoping to escape to Mexico via the Gulf, but the skins had not been allowed to cure enough and the boats sank in mid-sea. Three Spaniards and a black Moorish slave survived. (to be continued.)