A senior at Walatowa High Charter
School is using computer software to create background music
for his PowerPoint presentation.
Real people, real places
Walatowa High School emphasizes college prep
—JO ANNE FREDRIKSON
Walatowa High School (WHS) at Jemez Pueblo is
one of only two Native American charter schools in New Mexico
located on tribal land. Also at Jemez is San Diego Riverside
Charter School, serving grades K-8 since 1999. All fifty-two
students in grades nine through twelve, except one, are Native
American. Tribal, educational, and community leaders worked
collaboratively to create a school with a rigorous, interdisciplinary
college preparatory curriculum that emphasizes math, science,
health, and state-of-the-art technology. The aim is to make
education compelling, challenging, and culturally congruent
so that increasing numbers of Native American students graduate
from high school and go on to college. The school has attracted
a lot of buzz in its five-year history.
A key component of every Walatowa student’s
educational experience is community service. All students
who qualify learn and study abroad. Ninth-grade students spend
a week in Washington, DC learning about government and the
special role of tribal sovereignty. Sophomores spend one to
two weeks in Mexico learning about indigenous peoples. Junior
students travel to India for three weeks to learn about the
culture and its people. Senior students spend eight weeks
in New Zealand and Australia learning about the Maori tribes.
While traveling, students reside in the homes of local people,
and participate with them in cultural activities. The studies
abroad are intended to provide students with a world perspective
of how non-native world cultures relate to them and how they
solve problems in their communities and cultures. This travel
is supported by fundraising and tribal monies.
All students participate in community internships.
In the eleventh grade, students conduct in-depth research
on one issue of critical importance to Jemez Pueblo, such
as health and wellness needs, community infrastructure, agriculture,
tourism, the arts, preschool children, etc. In their senior
year at WHS, students must determine a series of critical
questions, and design and present a PowerPoint presentation
to share their understanding of the issues they have researched
in relation to the pueblo’s sovereignty and self-determination.
They are expected to draw from the knowledge of tribal and
Student enrollment has been steadily increasing
each year. Walatowa High graduated six senior students in
May 2007. These students completed the first four-year cycle
at the school, and all of them are currently enrolled in post-secondary
education (New Mexico State University, University of Colorado
and Central New Mexico Community College). This is a fifty-percent
increase in post-secondary enrollment over the 2006 class.
WHS was selected as one of twelve national sites
for an early college high school by the Center for Native
Education in Seattle. Walatowa partners with the University
of New Mexico’s Native American Studies Department so
that Native students can earn up to two years of college credit
while still in high school. In the 2006-07 school year, this
partnership resulted in the ability of eleven WHS students
to compete for scholarships for a year-long course to increase
the number of Native American students in computer science.
This effort involved staff from Boston University funded by
the National Science Foundation. The governing board of the
school aggressively targets grants and foundation funding
to support the goal of increasing the number of Native students
who graduate and go on to college.
Presently, the charter high school occupies
three new modular buildings that are adjacent to the Community
Youth Center. The units are leased with funding assistance
provided through the New Mexico Public School Capital Outlay
Council. The Youth Center supports basketball, volleyball
and other indoor sports, native dancing, and a variety of
other leadership activities. The center is flanked by baseball
fields, and the magnificent red hills of Jemez Pueblo provide
a backdrop for track and field activities. However, a permanent
building remains the dream of Principal Tony Archuleta, a
veteran New Mexico administrator with thirty-eight years of
experience in education. He shared that the tribal council
is developing a planning and design proposal to present to
the New Mexico legislature for a new high school for Jemez
Pueblo. “We need a permanent and appropriate building
for these students to excel and meet their educational goals.”
The school staff exceeds the standards for highly
qualified teachers in New Mexico. The Assistant Principal/Athletic
Director is a Native American who holds a Ph.D. and was a
former New York Yankees baseball player. Instructors include
a lawyer teaching math, a former college webmaster in charge
of technology education and support, a former employee of
National Geographic teaching science, a retired University
of Oklahoma art teacher, a curriculum coordinator who was
a private school educator, and a tenured administrator coordinating
Special Education services. Volunteers support science and
health instruction. Every teacher serves as a counselor to
students. Parents sign a contract agreeing to support their
child’s academic achievement and attendance.
Sandoval County Historical
Society welcomes Dooley
On February 10 at 2:00 p.m., the Sandoval County
Historical Society will meet at the DeLavy House Museum (located
off Highway 550 west of Bernalillo between Coronado State
Monument and The Star Casino). The scheduled speaker for the
meeting is Sunny Dooley, who will discuss the popular Navajo
tales called “Diné Blessing Way Stories.”
Refreshments will be served. The meeting is free and open
to the public. Please note the change for this meeting only,
the second Sunday of the month (instead of the first).
Seismosaurus: The longest dinosaur
Pat Hester, paleontologist with the Bureau of
Land Management, will present a lecture entitled, “Seismosaurus:
The Longest Dinosaur Ever Discovered.”
Seismosaurus (frequently called “Sam”)
was discovered in the Ojito Wilderness (sixty miles northwest
of Albuquerque) by two hikers in 1979, and is estimated to
be about 150 million years old. Excavation by paleontologists
and volunteers started in 1985 and lasted several years. Parts
of what was excavated are now on display at the New Mexico
Museum of Natural History.
As part of the presentation, Ms. Hester will
show the short documentary film Earthshakers, which will introduce
attendees to paleontological discoveries made in the same
area. While the lecture focuses on “Sam,” Ms.
Hester’s vast knowledge of paleontology will open the
question and answer period to more discussion opportunities.
Sponsored by the Friends of Coronado State Monument,
the lecture will be presented at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February
24 at the Sandoval County History Society’s DeLavy House,
located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. Take Highway 550, slightly
west of Coronado State Monument, and then turn north on the
west edge of the Phillips 66 station onto a dirt road (Edmond
Road). Follow the road to its end.
Admission is $5 per person and is free to members
of the Friends of Coronado State Monument.
For more information, contact Gordon Forbes,
Program Chairman at (505) 771-3464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Docent training opens world
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in Corrales. Casa San Ysidro is a reconstructed 19th century
New Mexico home which contains Spanish Colonial furniture,
authentic hand woven floor coverings, early New Mexico tinwork,
santos and much more! Training sessions are on Tuesdays from
March 4 to May 27. Call Ouida Anderson at Casa San Ysidro,
898-3915, for more information.
Friends of Monument host jewelry workshop
Friends of Coronado State Monument are offering
a jewelry workshop on February 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the DeLavy
House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. (From Highway
550, slightly west of Coronado State Monument, turn onto Edmond
Road. Follow the road to its end. Signs will be posted).
At this workshop, each participant will make
his or her own “treasure” of a single-strand necklace
and a pair of French wire earrings similar to those sold in
the gift shop at the Monument. (Instruction will be provided
to enable participants to make multiple-strand necklaces later
if they desire.)
The cost for the workshop is $25 per person
and will include all materials needed to make the “treasure”
necklace and earrings. Although participants are not limited,
in order to ensure adequate materials are available, call
Linda Vogel at 821-8432 to make your reservation. Refreshments
will be served.
Mormom Battalion Monument near
During the U. S. Mormom Battalion
March, Mormans went in search of a place to practice their
The Mormon Battalion helped to settle the Southwest
—MARGARET M. NAVA
Battered by recurring storms and strong winds,
cut off from the rest of the world by the surrounding wilderness,
frequented by snakes, scorpions, and coyotes, a twenty-five-foot-tall
stone obelisk sits alone and all but forgotten in an isolated
field along I-25 near the small village of Budaghers. Known
as the Mormon Battalion Monument, this structure exemplifies
the strength and courage of the men and women of the Mormon
Battalion who, although never engaging in battle or firing
a hostile shot, opened transportation routes into California,
helped settle the Southwest, played an important role in the
discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, and left friends
and family behind to walk halfway across the continent to
defend the United States.
Armed with little more than picks, shovels,
and prayer books, a group of 543 men, thirty-four women, and
fifty-one children left Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 20, 1846,
on an historic nineteen-hundred-mile march to San Diego, California.
Known as the Mormon Battalion, these hardy souls had volunteered
to fight for the United States in the Mexican War in exchange
for assistance during their relocation to the Great Salt Lake
Valley in Utah. Their lives back home were dismal, so they
had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Little did they
know the pain and suffering they would experience on what
would later be deemed the nation’s longest military
The Mormon Church, originally known as “The
Church of Christ,” was founded by Joseph Smith in Fayette,
New York on April 6, 1830. In 1831, the church was moved to
Kirtland, Ohio, and in 1832, some Mormons started to settle
in Missouri. Because of their unconventional beliefs and practices,
the new settlers were ill-received. War broke out between
believer and non-believer, eventually leading to the death
of Smith in 1844 and the selection of a new leader, Brigham
Young, who spearheaded the search for a place where the Mormons
could practice their faith in peace. Such a place was in Utah,
but to get there, the pilgrims would have to cross Indian
country. By late 1845, they were only as far as Iowa.
In January of 1846, Young wrote to President
James K. Polk, offering to build houses and stockades along
the westward trails in exchange for assistance for his migrant
followers. His reply came in June when, following the United
States’ declaration of war against Mexico, Captain James
Allen rode into the Mormon camp asking for volunteers to fight
the Mexicans in California. Young’s answer was quick.
“You shall have your men and if we have not enough men,
we will furnish you women.” Allen led the group of rag-tag
soldiers from Iowa into Kansas where, following his sudden
death, Lieutenant A.J. Smith took command.
Most of the Mormons considered Smith a cruel
and demanding leader. Complaints about inadequate food, improper
medical care, and extraordinarily long forced marches were
frequent. Luckily, once the battalion reached Santa Fe, Smith
was relieved of duty and replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Phillip
St. George Cook who took the Mormon soldiers to their destination.
Upon arriving in San Diego, Colonel Cook paid
tribute to the volunteers:
“History may be searched in vain for an
equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through wilderness,
where nothing but snakes and wild beasts were found, or deserts,
where for want of water, there is no living creature. There,
with almost hopeless labor, we have dug wells, which the future
traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them,
we have ventured into trackless tableland, where water was
not found for several marches. With crowbar and pick and axe
in hand we have worked our way over mountains which seemed
to defy aught save the wild goat and hewed a pass through
a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons. To bring
these first wagons to the Pacific, we have preserved the strength
of our mules by herding them over large tracts, which you
have laboriously guarded without loss. Thus, marching half-naked
and half-fed and living upon wild animals, we have discovered
and made a road of great value to our country.
Following discharge from military service, the
soldiers and families of the Mormon Battalion went on to join
other pilgrims already in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
Over the next twenty-two years, nearly seventy thousand pioneers
Since then, numerous monuments and trail markers
have been placed along the route followed by the Mormon Battalion
volunteers. The monument at Budaghers, erected in 1940, is
of particular interest because of its location. Before the
building of Interstate 25, it was placed several miles north
of its present location but progress forced it to be moved
out of the way. The future of the monument was uncertain until
1997, when a committee of dedicated New Mexican residents
arranged to have it moved to its present location near Budaghers.
If you wish to visit this monument, take I-25
north from Bernalillo to the Budaghers exit (number 257) and
follow the west frontage road past the old Traditions Marketplace.
For more information about the Mormon Battalion and other
trail markers, visit www.mormonbattalion.com.