Ashley Sherry


Ashley Sherry, an M.A. student in the Department of Anthropology at UNM and a fellow at the Center for Southwest Research, will speak on "Fashioning Advocacy: LaDonna Harris and the Codification of Values in the Case of Taos Blue Lake" on Thursday, May 12 at 12 p.m. in the Waters Room of Zimmerman Library. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Center for Southwest Research.

Blue Lake, a sacred shrine for Taos Pueblo Indians, is located high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt's executive order made Blue Lake and the surrounding territory a part of the Carson National Forest under the control of the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Blue Lake Area, including many significant ceremonial sites, became the focus of a sixty-four-year struggle by Taos Pueblo to regain its land. Finally, in 1970 Taos Pueblo was granted full legal title to the Blue Lake Area. The return of the land to the Pueblo on the basis of sustained religious use marked the first time that land, rather than some form of alternative compensation, had been returned to a tribe in the United States. During Taos Pueblo's struggle against the U.S. legal system, tribal members, politicians, religious organizations, lawyers, White House staff, indigenous activists, and interested parties worked with and against Taos Pueblo.

It was not the efforts of one individual, but the collective force of advocates from across the country that yielded the return of Taos Blue Lake. Sherry will focus on the efforts and experience of LaDonna Harris, a member of the Comanche nation, in this historic event.

Drawing on archival materials, interviews, and ethnographic observations Sherry explores the discourse and model of Indigenous advocacy put forth by Harris as it pertains to Taos Blue Lake. Ultimately, Sherry illustrates that Harris's value-based model of advocacy is not only codified in narrative but also employed as a training model for future Indigenous leaders. Harris's involvement in the return of Taos Blue Lake is an example of her ability to maintain a wide-ranging and interrelated network of relationships cultivated through her model of advocacy. Sherry's research interests include Indigeneity, the politics of heritage, social movements and activism.

The Scholars Program was established to promote an understanding and appreciation of New Mexico history by supporting scholarly research in New Mexico archival repositories. Financial support for the Scholars Program is made possible through a partnership between the Historical Society of New Mexico and the Office of State Historian, a Division of the State Records Center and Archives.

Under the program, fellowships of up to $1,000 are awarded to students and other scholars to perform research in New Mexico archival repositories on topics relating to New Mexico history and culture. Funding for the fellowships is made possible through the generosity of several non-profit organizations.

These include the Humanities Council of New Mexico, the Ellison Family Grant, the Center for Regional Studies at the University of New Mexico, the King/Carpenter Foundation and the Historical Society's Paul Carpenter Education Fund and Jane Sanchez Legacy Fund. The partnership allows the continuation of a program that had been suspended due to budgetary limitations at the State Records Center and Archives.

For more information about the program, please contact: Dennis Trujillo, Ph.D. at 505.476.7998 or by e-mail, dennis.trujillo@state.nm.us.