Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
New Mexico is a state in the southwestern United States. At one point it was a province of Mexico, and thus New Mexico is the state with the highest percentage of people who claim Hispanic ancestry, many of whom are descended from Spanish colonists. It also contains a sizeable Native American population. As a result, New Mexico has a unique culture with strong Mexican and Native American influences. For a variety of reasons, some people in other parts of the U.S. sometimes mistake it for a part of Mexico. Both English and Spanish are official languages in the state; its Spanish name is Nuevo México.
Native American Pueblos
Prehistoric Native Americans used the land and minerals of New Mexico to build an early Southwestern culture millenia 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 wandering across south New Mexico 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 long-standing hostility that impeded the Spanish conquest of New Mexico.
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. The Native Americans at Acoma revloted against this Spanish encroachment but faced severe suppression.
Made governor of the "Kingdom and Provinces of New Mexico," Pedro de Peralta established a settlement at the foot of the Sangre de Christo mountains called Santa Fe in 1609. As the seat of government of New Mexico since its founding, it is the oldest capital city in the United States. He 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 subjugated Native Americans to forced labor on the haciendas and attempted to convert them to Christianity. The Apache revolted violently in 1676, and the Pueblo uprising of 1680 drove the Spanish to abandon New Mexico entirely 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 setlers founded the old town of Albuquerque in 1706, naming for the viceroy of New Spain, the duke of Alburquerque. They constructed the Church of San Felipe de Nerí (1706). The through 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. The United States of America annexed Texas as a State in 1845.
American General Stephen W. Kearny entered Santa Fe without opposition in 1846 during the Mexican-American War, and his forces occupied the city, making New Mexico a United States territory. On meeting Kit Carson, General Kearney commanded Carson to guide his men to California. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848, Mexico ceded much of the American Southwest to the United States of America. This new territory included most of the western half of present-day New Mexico. The change of national authority allowed Anglo-American culture to come to New Mexico.
The Compromise of 1850 halted a bid for statehood under an antislavery constitution. Texas transferred eastern New Mexico to the federal government, settling a lengthy boundary dispute. Under the compromise, the American government established the New Mexico Territory on September 9, 1850. The territory, which included Arizona and parts of Colorado, officially established its capital at Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1851. The people of New Mexico would determine whether to permit slavery under a constitution at statehood, but the status of slavery during the territorial period provoked considerable debate. Some (including Stephen Douglas) maintained that the territory could not restrict slavery, as under the earlier Missouri Compromise, while others (including Abraham Lincoln) insisted that older Mexican legal traditions, which forbade slavery, took precedence. Regardless of its status, slavery never took a significant hold.
Native American plundering led Kit Carson to abandon his intent to retire to a sheep ranch near Taos. Carson accepted an 1853 appointment as U.S. Indian agent with a headquarters at Taos, and fought the Indians with notable success.
The United States acquired the southwestern "boot heel" of the state and much of southern Arizona in the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. With this purchase, the United States established its sovereignty over all of the present state of New Mexico.
During the American Civil War, Confederate troops from Texas first occupied New Mexico. Union troops captured the territory in early 1862. Kit Carson helped to organize and command the 1st New Mexican Volunteers to engage in campaigns against the Apache, Navajo, and Comanche in New Mexico and Texas. The Arizona Territory split as a separate entity in 1863. Union troops withdrew after the conclusion of the war.
The Roman Catholic Church established an archbishopric center in Santa Fe in 1875. The Santa Fe Railroad reached Lamy, New Mexico, 16 miles (26 km) from Santa Fe in 1879 and Santa Fe itself in 1880, replacing the storied Santa Fe Trail. The new town of Albuquerque, platted in 1880 as the Santa Fe Railroad extended westward, quickly enveloped the old town.
The railway encouraged the great cattle boom of the 1880s and the development of accompanying cow towns. Cattlemen feuded between each other and with authorities, most notably in the Lincoln County War. Outlaws included Billy the Kid. The cattle kindgom could not keep out sheepherders, and eventually homesteaders and squatters overwhelmed the cattlemen by fencing in and plowing under the "sea of grass" on which the cattle fed. Conflicting land claims led to bitter quarrels among the original Spanish inhabitants, cattle ranchers, and newer homesteaders. Despite destructive overgrazing, ranching survived as a mainstay of the New Mexican economy.
Albuquerque, on the upper Rio Grande, incorporated in 1889.
The United States government built the Los Alamos Research Center in 1943 amid the Second World War. Top-secret personnel there developed the atomic bomb, first detonated at Trinity site in the desert on the White Sands Proving Grounds vaguely near Alamogordo on July 16, 1945.
Albuquerque expanded rapidly after the war. High-altitude experiments near Roswell in 1947 reputedly led to persistent claims that the government captured and concealed extraterrestrial corpses and equipment. The state quickly emerged as a leader in nuclear, solar, and geothermal energy research and development. The Sandia National Laboratories, founded in 1949, carried out nuclear research and special weapons development at Kirtland Air Force Base south of Albuquerque.
Law and government
Governor Bill Richardson and Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish , both Democrats, will face re-election in 2006. Governors serve a term of four years and may seek reelection. For a list of past governors of the State of New Mexico, see List of New Mexico Governors.
Other Constitutional officers, all of whose terms also expire in January 2007, include Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron , Attorney General Patricia A. Madrid , and State Treasurer Robert E. Vigil . All three are Democrats.
A state house of representatives with 70 members and a state senate with 42 members comprise the state legislature. The Democratic Party generally dominates state politics, and as of 2004 50% of voters were registered Democrats, 33% were registered Republicans, and 17% did not affiliate with either of the two major parties.
In national politics, however, New Mexico occupies the dead center, giving its 5 electoral votes to all but two Presidential election winners since statehood. In these exceptions, New Mexicans supported Republican President Gerald Ford over Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Democratic Vice President Al Gore over Texas Governor George W. Bush (by just 366 popular votes) in 2000. No presidential candidate has won an absolute majority here since George H. W. Bush in 1988, and no Democrat has done so since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.
New Mexico sends Democrat Jeff Bingaman to the United States Senate until January 2007 and Republican Pete V. Domenici until January 2009. Republicans Steve Pearce and Heather Wilson and Democrat Tom Udall represent the Land of Enchantment in the United States House of Representatives.
The eastern border of New Mexico lies along 103 °W with Oklahoma, and 3 miles (5 km) west of 103 °W with Texas. Texas also lies south of most of New Mexico, although the southwestern boot-heel borders the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora. The western border with Arizona runs along 109 °W. The 37 °N parallel forms the northern boundary with Colorado. The states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together at the Four Corners in the northwestern corner of New Mexico.
The landscape ranges from wide, rose-colored deserts to broken mesas to high, snow-capped peaks. Despite New Mexico's arid image, heavily forested mountain wildernesses cover a significant portion of the state. Part of the Rocky Mountains, the broken, north-south oriented Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) range flanks both sides of the Rio Grande from the rugged, pastoral north through the center of the state. Government lands include the Cibola National Forest , headquartered in Albuquerque and the Santa Fe National Forest , headquartered in Santa Fe .
Cacti, yuccas, creosote bush, sagebrush, and desert grasses cover the broad, semiarid plains that cover the southern portion of the state.
The Federal government protects millions of acres of beautiful New Mexico as national forests and monuments. The natural attractions of New Mexico include Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Thousands of tourists annually visit the White Sands National Monument, Bandelier, Capulin Volcano National Monument, El Morro.
The rich history of New Mexico also attracts visitors to such places as Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, and Salinas Pueblo Missions national monuments and Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Visitors also frequent the surviving native pueblos of New Mexico. Tourists visiting these sites bring significant monies to the state.
United States highways
|North-south routes||East-west routes|
New Mexico's 1999 total gross state product was $51 billion, placing it 38th in the nation. Its 2000 per capita personal income was $22,203, 48th in the nation.
Cattle and dairy products top the list of major animal products of New Mexico. Cattle, sheep, and other livestock graze most of the arable land of the state throughout the year.
Limited but scientifically controlled dryland farming prospers alongside cattle ranching. Major crops include hay, nursery stock, pecans, and chiles. Hay and sorghum top the list of major dryland crops. Farmers also produce onions, potatoes, and dairy products. New Mexico specialty crops include piñon nuts , pinto beans, and chilis.
In the desert and semiarid portions of the state, the scant rainfall evaporates rapidly, generally leaving insufficient water supplies for large-scale irrigation. The Carlsbad and Fort Sumner reclamation projects on the Pecos River and the nearby Tucumcari project provide adequate water for limited irrigation in those areas. Located upstream of Las Cruces, the Elephant Butte Dam provides a major irrigation source for the extensive farming along the Rio Grande. Other irrigation projects use the Colorado River basin and the San Juan River.
Lumber mills in Albuquerque process pinewood, the chief commercial wood of the rich timber economy of northern New Mexico.
New Mexicans derive much of their income from mineral extraction. Even before European exploration, Native Americans used silver and turquoise in making jewelry. New Mexico produces uranium ore, manganese ore, potash, salt, perlite, copper ore, beryllium, and tin concentrates. Natural gas, petroleum, and coal are also found in smaller quantities.
Industrial outputs, centered around Albuquerque, include electric equipment; petroleum and coal products; food processing; printing and publishing; and stone, glass, and clay products. Defense-related industries include ordnance. Important high-technology industries include lasers, data processing, and solar energy.
Federal government spending drives the New Mexico economy and provides more than a quarter of the state's jobs. Many of the federal jobs relate to the military; the state hosts several air force bases, national observatories, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sandia National Laboratories conducts electronic and industrial research at Kirtland Air Force Base south of Albuquerque. These installations include the missile and spacecraft proving grounds at White Sands.
Tourism provides many service jobs. Attractions include the Cibola National Forest near Albuquerque, the natural-history and atomic museums in the city, and the rich, unique history of the region. Albuquerque also hosts a famed hot-air balloon festival.
The private service economy in urban New Mexico has boomed in recent decades. Noted as a health resort, Albuquerque contains many hospitals. Tourism also provides many service jobs. Attractions include the Cibola National Forest near Albuquerque, the natural-history and atomic museums in the city, and the rich, unique history of the region. Albuquerque also hosts a famed hot-air balloon festival. The warm, semiarid climate has contributed to the exploding population of Albuquerque, attracting new industries to New Mexico. By contrast, many heavily Native American and Hispanic rural communities remain economically underdeveloped.
According to the Census Bureau, as of 2003, the population of New Mexico was 1,874,614. The population of New Mexico has grown 23.7% from its 1990 levels.
The racial makeup of the state is:
7.2% of New Mexico's population were reported as under 5, 28% under 18, and 11.7% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 50.8% of the population.
New Mexico is overwhelmingly Christian with relatively few adherents of non-Christian religions living in the state. Like many other Western states, New Mexico has a higher than average percentage of people who claim no religion in comparison to other U.S. states.
- 82% Christian
- 1% Non-Christian Religions
- 17% No Religion
With a Native American population of 134,000 in 1990, New Mexico still ranks as an important center of American Indian culture. Both the Navajo and Apache share Athabaskan origin. The Apache and some Ute live on federal reservations within the state. With 16 million acres (65,000 km²), mostly in neighboring Arizona, the reservation of the Navajo Nation ranks as the largest in the United States. The prehistorically agricultural Pueblo Indians live in pueblos scattered throughout the state, many older than any European settlement.
More than one-third of New Mexicans claim Hispanic origin, the vast majority of whom descend from the original Spanish colonists in the northern portion of the state. Most of the considerably fewer recent Mexican immigrants reside in the southern part of the state.
At least one-third of New Mexicans are also fluent in a unique dialect of Spanish. New Mexican Spanish dispenses with many grammatical niceties, typically restricting verb conjugations to two. Because of the historical isolation of New Mexico from other speakers of the Spanish language, the local dialect preserves some late medieval Castillian vocabulary considered archaic elsewhere, adopts numerous Native American words for local features, and contains much Anglicized vocabulary for American concepts and modern inventions.
The tranquil climate and startling panoramas have attracted Americans seeking health and retirement.
The presence of various indigenous Native American communities, the long-established Spanish and Mexican influence, and the diversity of Anglo-American settlement in the region, ranging from pioneer farmers and ranchers in the territorial period to military families in later decades, make New Mexico a particularly heterogeneous state.
There are natural history and atomic museums in Albuquerque, which also hosts the famed Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
A large artistic community thrives in Santa Fe. The capital city has museums of Spanish colonial, international folk, Navajo ceremonial, modern Native American, and other modern art. Another museum honors resident Georgia O'Keeffe. Colonies for artists and writers thrive, and the small city teems with art galleries. Performing arts include the renowned Santa Fe summer opera, and the restored Lensic Theater . Writer D.H. Lawrence resided in Taos.
Colleges and universities
Official state symbols
The state nickname is "Land of Enchantment;" the state motto is "Crescit Eundo (It Grows as It Goes)."
The state symbols include:
|State songs||“O Fair New Mexico”||1917|
|“Asi Es Nuevo Méjico ”||1971|
|“New Mexico—Mi Lindo Nuevo Mexico ”||1995|
|State flower||Yucca flower||1927|
|State tree||Two-Needle Piñon pine||1949|
|State bird||Chaparral (Roadrunner)||1949|
|State fish||Cutthroat trout||1955|
|State animal||black bear||1963|
|State vegetables||chile and frijol||1965|
|State grass||blue gramma||1973|
|State insect||tarantula hawk wasp||1989|
|State ballad||"Land of Enchantment "||1989|
|State poem||A Nuevo México||1991|
|State question||“Red or Green? ”||1999|
The official State Question refers to a diner's preference for either red or green chile pepper with their meal.
Two ships of the United States Navy have been named in honor of this state. See: USS New Mexico.
- Thomas E. Chavez, An Illustrated History of New Mexico, 267 pages, University of New Mexico Press 2002, ISBN 0826330517
- Erlinda Gonzales-Berry, David R. Maciel, editors, The Contested Homeland: A Chicano History of New Mexico, 314 pages - University of New Mexico Press 2000, ISBN 0826321992
- Tony Hillerman, The Great Taos Bank Robbery and other Indian Country Affairs, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1973, trade paperback, 147 pages, (ISBN 082630530X)
- Paul Horgan, Great River, The Rio Grande in North American History, 1038 pages, Wesleyan University Press 1991, 4th Reprint, ISBN 819562513 - Pulitzer Prize 1955
- Robert W. Kern, Labor in New Mexico: Strikes, Unions, and Social History, 1881-1981, University of New Mexico Press 1983, ISBN 0826306756
- Marc Simmons, New Mexico: An Interpretive History, 221 pages, University of New Mexico Press 1988, ISBN 0826311105 - good introduction
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