January 6 – New Mexico Celebrates Statehood

Posted on January 6, 2016

New Mexico adopted as its official nickname “Land of Enchantment.”

How true!

New Mexico is a land of mountains and deserts, of fine artists and artisans in all the traditional handicrafts, of Hispanic and Native American people and cultures and influences.

It has the highest percentage of Hispanic people in its population, and it has the second highest percentage of Native Americans (after Alaska). 

Interestingly enough, New Mexico did not get its name from Mexico. Instead, both of these places got their names independently from the Aztec – or Mexica – Empire.

New Mexico originally got its name from Spanish explorers who, in the second half of the sixteenth century, named the region Nuevo Mexico because they thought that the Indians living there were as wealthy as the Mexica Indians.

The state flag is red and gold, the colors of
Spain's flag, but it has an ancient
sun symbol from the Pueblo tribe known
as Zia.
However, New Mexico, like Mexico, was ruled by Spain; later, the state became a part of the republic of Mexico. Of course, for centuries Navajo, Pueblo, Apache, and other groups of Native Americans lived there.

On this date in 1912, New Mexico became the 47th U.S. state.

Here are my personal “bests” of New Mexico:

Best art community in NM:

Santa Fe has more than 200 world-class art galleries in just two square miles – with three arts districts vying for shoppers' eyes and dollars. When my husband and I tried to check out every one of the galleries in just one of the districts, we kept thinking, “Well, now I've seen it all – the next gallery will just seem like repetition, right?” And then we would go in and be totally blown away with a totally new never-before-seen sort of sculpture, or a unique painting style, or an especially exquisite sort of handicraft. We got tremendously footsore but never jaded!

Quirkiest Museum in NM:

Roswell boasts an interesting and self-important International UFO Museum & Research Center.

Best cave in NM:

Carlsbad Caverns boasts one of the largest cave chambers in North

America, and there are at least 23 named rooms in the cave! Another extra attraction is watching bats fly out of the cave every sunset!

Best sand in NM:

Walking around White Sands National Monument is beautiful and weird. The sand is so, so white because it is made of gypsum crystals. This is the largest gypsum dune field in the world!

I loved seeing the white-white lizards and the white-white spiders that had evolved to blend into the gypsum sand. I loved seeing the black tread on our whitened tires. I felt like I was hiking through an immense pile of plaster of paris! (Which, of course, I was!)

Best Native American ruins in NM:

I really enjoyed Bandelier National Monument, hiking to and climbing up to the pueblo structures made by the Ancestral Puebloans!

Best science museum in NM:

Los Alamos is famous for being the site of the super-secret Manhattan Project during World War II. Scientists developed the first devastating nuclear weapons there. 

Nowadays, the Bradbury Science Museum sheds light on this interesting and sobering chapter of history.

I also love Taos and Albuquerque and other ruins and museums and and and! New Mexico is truly wonderful!

Here are some things I'd like to see...but that I haven't seen yet:


Also known as Stonefridge.

It's an homage to England's Stonehenge, done with refrigerators!

Ghost Ranch:

This beautiful place was home to artist Georgia O'Keefe!

Tent Rocks:

I love rock formations. These look amazing!

Blue Hole:

Found in Santa Rosa, this bell-shaped pool is 80 feet deep and extremely clear!

Also on this date:

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