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Hispanic Support for a National Monument in Trail of History

PHOTO: Hispanic organizations in New Mexico are expressing support for an Organ Mountains Desert Peaks national monument.Courtesy of:  Mike Groves.
PHOTO: Hispanic organizations in New Mexico are expressing support for an Organ Mountains Desert Peaks national monument.
Courtesy of: Mike Groves.
May 24, 2013

DOÑA ANA COUNTY, N.M. – Members of the New Mexico Hispanic community are expressing their appreciation for the national monuments honoring César Chávez and protecting Rio Grande del Norte, and they'd like the same status awarded to the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

Once considered the boundary between New Mexico and Mexico, the area was home to indigenous people, a resting place for those traveling along the Camino Real and it also includes a number of petroglyphs.

Ralph Arellanes is with the New Mexico League of United Latin American Citizens and the Hispano Round Table of New Mexico. He says there are good reasons why these organizations are committed to the area's care.

"Hispanics brought the ranching and farming industry to this land,” he explains. “And so, Hispanics, by definition, are very tied and connected to our land because that was our means of survival."

Arellanas says the two organizations recently held meetings where there was 100 percent support for an Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks national monument designation. He sees this as a way to preserve diversity and the Hispanic culture for many generations to come.

He adds preserving national monuments such as Rio Grande del Norte and potentially the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks area, also helps preserve Hispanic and Native American history.

"We're talking about a history that goes back 12,000 years before the Spanish came,” he says. “So, we're also talking about preserving Spanish history, but also Native American history.

“In New Mexico, very unique to any other place in the country, there's a blend of Spanish and Native Americans in the people today."

Arellanes explains what is next for the unanimously passed identical resolutions supporting national monument designation for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region.

"We're going to notify both Sen. Heinrich and Udall,” he says, “that we look forward to working closely together on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks monument."

In a statement about the area's potential designation, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico says safeguarding the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks region in this way, means, "a critical piece of our shared outdoor heritage will be protected for us now and for future generations of Americans to enjoy."

Renee Blake, Public News Service - NM