Rio Arriba, NM: Cultural Capital

On a road trip through the state, New Mexico offers you a boundless landscape, occupied by rock formations colored dusty red and vast barren land scattered with scorpions and cacti. The landscape’s value, though, often goes unnoticed. People may be uninformed that New Mexico is a hub for the blend of nature and culture, but it is also because the cultural traditions held within New Mexico are intimately held amongst the citizens themselves.


Take El Sanctuary de Chimayo, as an example. Thousands will walk miles here, to pray on Good Friday. They will approach the sanctuary on their knees, or carry large crosses in their hands, to show their devotion. The story behind the sanctuary, is that a crucifix was found one evening by a group of men, who were celebrating Good Friday. Suddenly, they were lured by a shining light that lead them to a crucifix. Upon sending for a priest to analyze the mysterious crucifix, the crucifix was missing yet again, only to be found the next day in its original location. This removal and return happened two more times, until people discovered that the original location was a sacred spot for the Pueblo Indians.

20dirt01_400 The sanctuary was initially built to enshrine this miraculous crucifix. As tradition goes, the adobe church was built on top of what is considered “holy dirt”, in that it provides medicinal remedies for illnesses of various forms. Collecting the holy sand is a devoted tradition followed by many locals, and travelers who pass through. It speaks deeply to the reverence that is held over the land. The power of the dirt defies any concept of modern medicine, and provides a hopeful outlook on curing whatever illness the collector hopes.

The Pueblo de Abiquiu Library and Cultural Center, is a non-profit organization that aims to provide an educational outlet for community members who want to learn more about the history and culture behind the land. According to a nation-wide report, approximately 32% of New Mexicans do not have access to the internet. Because of this fact, libraries throughout the state work to resolve this problem by providing public-use of computers. There are other programs within the center, such as AA, social issues group meetings, and inter-generational projects, to offer to the public.


Nickels, Joe. “Miracle Dirt of Chimayó – CSI.” Miracle Dirt of Chimayó – CSI. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Abiquiulibrary, By. “Pueblo De Abiquiu Library and Cultural Center, 505-685-4884.” Pueblo De Abiquiu Library and Cultural Center 5056854884. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.