The flow of homesteaders into (and out of) northeastern New Mexico had a distinct eastern orientation. All too often the textbooks and research have promoted the farmer's frontier as a westward movement...ignoring the prospect that there were residents in the west who qualified for land under the Homestead Act. In researching the cultural history and geography of northeastern New Mexico for the New Mexico Historical Preservation Division in 1985 it was discovered that the farming frontier originated from two directions: the earliest from the Hispanic west was followed by the expected Anglo flow from the east. Each group followed a distinct settlement pattern: Hispanos as irrigators along the canyons and valleys carved out by perennial waterbodies and Anglos as dry land farmers on the grasslands of the high plains. Hispanos settled in clusters, adapting an architectural style that mirrored village patterns of the northern Rio Grande. Settlers from the east dispersed over a portion of the prairie, constructing dugouts and pole shacks until an eastern-style replacement structure could be constructed. For over half a century these two cultures coinhabited northeastern New Mexico as separate, and nearly independent, systems.


This paper has been modified from sections prepared for "Gone but Not Forgotten: The Cultural Resources of Northeastern New Mexico" by Pratt and Williams for the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, 1986. Volume 1, pages 217-234.

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