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“Prefacio [Preface]”

by Sabine R. Ulibarrí

In the preface to Nasario García’s Abuelitos: Stories of the Río Puerco Valley, famed northern New Mexico writer Sabine R. Ulibarrí talks about the importance of stories. One of New Mexico’s favorite sons, Ulibarrí writes about life in the northern New Mexico village of Tierra Amarilla. His stories record rural Hispano culture in the early 1900s.

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It is necessary to know where you come from to know where you are and what you are, in order to know where you are headed and who you will be. Nasario García knows very well where he comes from. That is why his road in life is well marked.

Kindness and loyalty have taken Nasario to the land that saw him born and that taught him to want to bring to light the history of a corner of New Mexico and the people who made that history. A history lost in the past until now.

Once I wrote the following verses:

Listen, New Mexican,
To the voice of your ancestors.
They have so much to tell us
Given the short time we live in.
The voice comes from the earth,
Climbs alone to the high sierra,
Descends sad upon the deep valley,
To tell you what you're worth.

In these pages of Abuelitos: Stories of the Río Puerco Valley rests the voice of the old folks. A sincere, authentic and honored voice. The old people tell us about life just as they lived it, just as they saw it and understand it. Without sentimentality, without bragging, without conceit. With dignity, Nasario has the good sense not to intrude.

Through these accounts one sees the flow of time, the evolution of culture and tradition, the profound love for the land, and the pride of being New Mexican. One must admire in all of this the heroism and stoicism with which the people of the Río Puerco face up to the situations and vicissitudes of an inhospitable land and hostile circumstances. Always with good humor, good faith, and good will. The survival of these people and their triumph over the reality that surrounded them is nothing less than epic.

We find in these pages of Abuelitos stories about kings and queens, princes and princesses, which the old folks used to tell the children. The conquistadors brought these stories with them in the sixteenth century. They are oriental stories that were tremendously popular in Spain at the time. They all contain a moral. The miracle is that they have been preserved for 400 years. These stories show us that Spanish culture became deeply rooted in these lands and that it still survives in the hearts of New Mexicans.

I congratulate Nasario for relating a history that had not been told.

Sabine R. Ulibarrí