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Hyundai New Mexico, NM. Information Page

New Mexico, NM.

The Land of Enchantment

New Mexico (Spanish: Nuevo México) is one of the two southwestern states of the USA. Over its relatively long history it has also been occupied by Native American populations, part of the Spanish colony of New Spain, a province of the Republic of Mexico, and a U.S. territory. New Mexico has the highest percentage of people of Hispanic ancestry of any state, some recent immigrants and others descendants of Spanish colonists. The state also has a large Indian population. As a result, the demographics and culture of the state are unique for their strong Spanish, Mexican, and American Indian cultural influences.

Prehistoric Native Americans used the land and minerals of New Mexico to build an early Southwestern culture millennia ago. Prehistoric Native American ruins indicate a presence at modern Santa Fe. Caves in the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque contain the remains of some of the earliest inhabitants of the New World. The Pueblo people built a flourishing sedentary culture in the 1200s, constructing small towns in the valley of the Rio Grande and pueblos nearby. The Spanish encountered Pueblo civilization in the 1500s. Word of the pueblos reached Cabeza de Vaca, a Spaniard who survived a shipwreck on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico while wandering across southern New Mexico with his companion Estabanico in 1528–1536. Fray Marcos de Niza enthusiastically identified the pueblos as the fabulously rich Seven Cities of Cibola, the fabled seven cities of gold. Dispatched from New Spain, conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led a full-scale expedition to find these cities in 1540–1542. Coronado camped near an excavated pueblo today preserved as Coronado State Monument in 1541. His maltreatment of the Pueblo people while exploring the upper Rio Grande valley led to hostility that impeded the Spanish conquest of New Mexico. The three largest pueblos of New Mexico are Zuni, Santo Domingo, and Laguna pueblos. Juan de Oñate founded the San Juan colony on the Rio Grande in 1598, the first European settlement in the future state of New Mexico. Oñate pioneered the El Camino Real, "The Royal Road" as a 700 mile (1100 km) lifeline from the rest of New Spain to his remote colony. Oñate was made the first governor of the new Province of New Mexico. The Native Americans at Acoma revolted against this Spanish encroachment but faced severe suppression. In 1609, Pedro de Peralta, a later governor of the Province of New Mexico, established the settlement of Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As the seat of government of New Mexico since its founding, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the United States. Peralta built the Palace of Governors in 1610. Although the colony failed to prosper, some missions flourished. Spanish settlers arrived at the site of Albuquerque in the mid-1600s. Missionaries attempted to convert the natives to Christianity but had little success [1]. The Apache revolted violently in 1676, and the Pueblo uprising of 1680 drove the Spanish to abandon northern New Mexico until the campaign of Diego de Vargas Zapata reestablished Spanish control and returned Spanish colonists in 1692. While developing Santa Fe as a trade center, the returning settlers founded the old town of Albuquerque in 1706, naming for the viceroy of New Spain, the Duke of Alburquerque. Prior to its founding Albuquerque consisted of several Haciendas and communities along the lower Rio Grande. They constructed the Church of San Felipe de Nerí (1706). The thorough development of ranching and some farming in the 1700s laid the foundations for the state's still-flourishing Hispanic culture. Napoleon Bonaparte of France sold the vast Louisiana Purchase, which extended into the northeastern corner of New Mexico, to the United States in 1803. As a part of New Spain, the remainder of the province of New Mexico passed to independent Mexico following the 1810-1821 Mexican War of Independence. Small trapping parties from the United States had previously reached Santa Fe, but the Spanish rulers forbade them to trade. Trader William Becknell returned to the United States in November 1821 with news that independent Mexico welcomed trade through Santa Fe. Becknell left Independence, Missouri, for Santa Fe early in 1822 with the first party of traders. Wagon caravans thereafter made the 40- to 60-day annual trek along the 780 mile (1,260 km) Santa Fe Trail, usually leaving in early summer and returning after a 4 to 5 week stay in New Mexico. The Trail divided into Mountain and Cimarron Divisions southwest of Dodge City, Kansas. The rugged Mountain Division passed over Raton Pass and rejoined the more direct Cimarron Division near Fort Union, New Mexico. The dry southern Cimmaron route offered poor short grass and little wildlife. The Santa Fe National Historic Trail follows the route of the old trail, with many sites marked or restored. American frontiersman Kit (Christopher) Carson, apprenticed to a saddler in the Santa Fe Trail outfitting point of Old Franklin, ran away from his job in 1826. He joined a caravan for Santa Fe, and made Taos, his home and headquarters as he made a living as a teamster, cook, guide, and hunter for exploring parties until 1840. The breakaway Republic of Texas claimed the territory north and east of the Rio Grande when it seceded from Mexico in 1836. New Mexico authorities captured a group of Texans who embarked an expedition to assert their claim to the province in 1841.


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