In honor of Esther Martinez, master
On September 19 U.S. Representative Tom Udall (D-NM) delivered
a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in honor
of Ohkay Owingeh master storyteller Esther Martinez.
The following is the text of Udall's statement as it was recorded
for the Congressional Record.
I rise today with a heavy heart to honor the memory of a very special
New Mexican, Esther Martinez.
Esther Martinez is renowned for her work as an educator, author
and master storyteller. But it is her life story that is very unique.
Born in 1912, her Grandson Matthew notes that Esther typically
introduced herself by saying she was born the same year New Mexico
became a state and the Titanic sunk. As a young girl, she traveled
by covered wagon with her grandparents from her home in the Ute
Country of Colorado to what was then known as San Juan Pueblo, now
After arriving at Ohkay Owingeh, Esther was sent to the Santa Fe
Indian Boarding School, as a part of the federal government’s
efforts to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream society.
There she was scolded and often punished for speaking Tewa, her
native tongue. As a lonely young girl, Esther longed to hear the
voices and stories of her grandparents.
Story telling in her native Tewa language would be Esther’s
greatest legacy. She dedicated herself to maintaining and preserving
the various forms of the Tewa language. Among her Pueblo people
Esther or Aunt Esther, as many called her, is best known for her
storytelling, but also recognized for her linguistic and educational
Esther taught Tewa at the San Juan Day School and for more than
twenty years served as the school’s Director of Bilingual
Education. She also published her stories and used them as learning
tools in the classroom. As a master of the Tewa language, she compiled
Tewa dictionaries in various dialects for the Northern New Mexico
Pueblos and also translated the New Testament into Tewa.
Last Thursday, Esther was in Washington, DC where I had the privilege
of helping present her with the nation’s highest honor for
folk and traditional artists. At the age of 94, Esther was named
a 2006 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the
Arts. With members of her family in the audience, Esther rose to
be honored and received a standing ovation for her life’s
work preserving her native Tewa language and traditions.
Tragically, while making her way back home from the airport Saturday
evening, Esther was killed in a traffic accident. Two of her daughters
traveling with also her suffered injuries but survived the crash.
Our hearts weigh heavy with the news of Esther's tragic passing
but her legacy will forever live in the contributions she made to
our nation as an educator, linguist and master storyteller. Her
greatest role, however, was as a mother of ten and grandmother who
was loved by many. Our deepest sympathies are with them today.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.
Sandoval County Veterans Vietnam Memorial will
be dedicated on November 11
On Veterans Day, November 11, at 1:00 p.m. the Sandoval County
Veterans Vietnam Memorial committee plans a dedication ceremony
for a new monument, a memorial wall, a wall of honor, on property
provided by the Sandoval County commissioners. The ceremony will
be held at the northeast corner of the Sandoval County Courthouse
front lawn, on Camino del Pueblo, in Bernalillo.
This wall of honor has become Phase 1 of a project originated over
a year ago by Larry Hurtado of Peña Blanca. Larry’s
initial intention was to have a memorial built in honor of his dear
friend Freddie Saiz, killed in action while serving in Vietnam.
It has since grown into a much larger endeavor in which people from
all walks of life have come together, paying tribute not only to
those listed as MIA and KIA but to all the Vietnam veterans from
Sandoval County who served our country from 1959 to 1975.
Additional phases honoring veterans from World Wars I and II, the
Korean War, Desert Storm, and the present war in Iraq will follow
and will most likely be constructed at the new Judicial Complex,
located off Route 528 and Idalia. Your contributions of time, energy,
effort, suggestions, and funds are deeply appreciated. Your support
serves in the erection of historical and educational sites for present
and future generations. These are places of healing for some and
will honor all those who made and are making sacrifices for us.
Concepts for the next phases have not been solidified at this time,
and volunteers are needed for planning, designing, and other stages.
The First Community Bank in Bernalillo has set up an account for
those wishing to donate monies to the Sandoval County Veterans Vietnam
Memorial, the Phase I portion of the project. Personal checks, cashier’s
checks, and money orders are accepted. If you wish to mail your
tax-deductible contribution, send it to Sandoval County Veterans
Vietnam Memorial, P.O. Box 151, Bernalillo, NM 87004. For further
information, contact Larry Hurtado, at 465-0925.
LPA Hagan hike reveals history of ghost town
Summer rains blocked a planned hike and chuck wagon at the ghost
town of Hagan, but it's back on schedule for October 28.
Join Las Placitas Association as they explore this old mining community
on the Diamond Tail Ranch. Gather at the Park-and-Ride lot in Bernalillo
at 10:00 a.m., then carpool to the site.
Sturdy vehicles are recommended, as is wearing hiking boots, bringing
water—and bringing a snack if chuck-wagon chow isn't on your
There is no cost to attend, but registration is encouraged to give
LPA an idea of how many people may be coming. To RSVP, visit www.lasplacitas.org
or call 867-6330 and leave a message.