Spotlights

Southwest Crossroads Spotlights have been created by the authors of Southwest Crossroads as general introductions on key topics in Southwest history. After reading each Spotlight, follow the associated links to get in-depth, specific information. Or keep reading Spotlights for more fascinating introductions to topics like Southwest arts, migration, or warfare—which together provide an overall view of the people and events that have shaped Southwest history.

Spotlights: 44  
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Title: Navajo Weaving: A Study in Cultural Change and Adaptability

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

The development of Navajo weaving for individual use and for trade.

Navajos say Spider Woman taught them to weave with directions from Spider Man. Spider Woman’s woven cross still appears in Navajo weaving today. The early Navajos were a nomadic hunting and gathering people. Navajo weaving tells a story of their...

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Title: Penitentes

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

A brief description of the Penitente Brotherhood and the Hispano communities it served.

During the 1600s and 1700s, Hispano settlers in present-day New Mexico lived in small isolated poblaciones, or communities. They built adobe houses, dug acequias (irrigation ditches), and planted their crops along these ditches. The settlers lived in...

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Title: Reies López Tijerina and the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

A description of conflicts over land ownership in northern New Mexico. In the 1960s, Reies Lopez Tijerina organized the descendants of the original land grantees in a series of protests and demonstrations to recover their lands.

When the Spaniards claimed northern New Mexico as Spanish land in the 1600s, settlers from Spain and present-day Mexico formed ranching and farming communities on land long occupied by Native Americans. The Spanish authorities awarded land grants to ...

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Title: Scholle: A Portrait of a Railroad Community

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner

A brief history of Scholle, New Mexico, a railroad community on the Belen Cutoff.

Many communities in east-central New Mexico are relatively new when compared to those in the Rio Grande Valley and other parts of the state. When the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway constructed the Belen Cutoff, it opened an area for settleme...

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Title: Settlement and Homesteading in East-Central New Mexico

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight; William Penner

A brief history of settlement and homesteading in east-central New Mexico.

New Mexico’s population grew during the nineteenth century. Hispano families began to settle beyond the Rio Grande Valley and establish new villages. Some communities obtained land grants from the Spanish or Mexican governments; others settled with...

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Title: Silver City

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

A brief history of Silver City.

In the middle 1800s, Silver City was a marsh known by its Spanish name, La Ciénaga de San Vicente (St. Vincent’s Marsh). Gila and Mimbres Apaches who had long lived in the valley resisted fiercely the arrival of growing numbers of white settle...

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Title: The Churro

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

The introduction of churro sheep by the Spanish and their resulting importance to Navajo culture.

During the sixteenth century, the Spanish brought flocks of churro sheep to the Americas. The churro was an old and hardy breed originating in Spain. It could survive in rugged, dry terrain. Early Spanish, Pueblo, and Navajo weavers prized the long, ...

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Title: The Old Spanish Trail

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

A brief history of the Old Spanish Trail that traders traveled on between California and New Mexico.

Less well known today than the Old Santa Fe Trail, the Old Spanish Trail was a dynamic feature of the early days in the Spanish American Southwest. Long before the explorers and missionaries from Spain worked their way up from Old Mexico into Alta Ca...

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Title: The Origins of Pottery

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

When people started to make pottery and how it changed their societies.

Small bands of indigenous peoples roamed the American Southwest between 10,000 BCE and 1000 CE. They moved around following game and gathering whatever plants were in season. They may have carried their belongings and foodstuffs in baskets. Peopl...

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Title: The Utes

Author(s): Southwest Crossroads Spotlight

A brief history of the Utes.

The Utes call themselves Nunt’z, “the people.” In former times, the Utes roamed in eleven bands across much of Colorado, Utah, and parts of Arizona and New Mexico. Today they live on reservations in southern Colorado and eastern Utah. As many a...

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