Morgan LeBin, a Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, will speak Friday, June 15, at 11 a.m. in the Waters Room (105) of Zimmerman Library on "A Riparian 'Empire' in the Chihuahuan Desert: Spanish, Puebloans, and Apaches in Seventeenth Century New Mexico as part of the 2012 History Scholars Lecture Series co-hosted by the Office of the State Historian and the Center for Southwest Research.

The 1680 Pueblo Revolt is a well-established narrative of political and cultural stressors that, when compounded with overtaxed resources such as pasturage, fuel wood, and labor catalyzed a major Puebloan insurgency up and down the Rio Grande valley, ejecting the Spanish from New Mexico for 12 years.

As it stands, the Spanish removal from the riparian zones of New Mexico and their long effort to retake their settlements makes for an excellent – although micro regional history of a river.  The problem is that it leaves us with too many questions and oversights about how the surrounding landscapes and peoples contributed to, and participated in, a lasting and apparently successful resistance to Spanish colonial claims.

A closer look at the ecology of the Chihuahuan Desert, as shown through the ways Apaches moved through it and used it, reveals a narrative where Spanish empire in New Mexico is reduced and hemmed into troubled pockets of river settlement while semi-nomadic or nomadic peoples were positioned to develop better strategies of survival and dominance over populations dependent on the Rio Grande.

An environmental focus prompts us to revise notions of Spanish empire, perceptions of Native power and the role of the environment in creating a defensible formulation of space and place.  In the end, it would appear that groups like the Apache have a better claim to building hegemonic space in New Mexico than do the Spanish.

The lecture is free and the public is welcome.

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