The State Today

NEW MEXICO today represents a blend of three cultures—In-
dian, Spanish, and American—each of which has had its time
upon the stage and dominated the scene. The composite of
culture which now, in the union of statehood, presents a harmonious
picture upon casual inspection, is deceptive, for the veneer of Americani-
zation in places runs thin indeed. It is difficult to think of a modern
America in a village of the Pueblo Indians, while the inhabitants
dance for rain. To be sure, a transcontinental train may thunder by,
or an airplane soar overhead; but the prayers never stop, the dance goes
on, and the fantastic juxtaposition seems to widen the gap between.
Who could dream of the American Way in a mountain hamlet where
the sound of the Penitente flute is heard above the thud of the scourges,
and Spanish-American villagers perform medieval rites of redemption
in Holy Week?

These are extremes of incongruity, but they are true. They dimin-
ish in the vicinity of the larger towns and cities and vanish altogether
in some places; but their existence, strong or weak, colors the con-
temporary scene. New Mexico is a favorite camping-ground of the
anthropologists because here they can study the living Indians in con-
nection with their ancient, unbroken past and possible future. They
can learn much about how people lived in medieval Spain by studying
the ways of life in the remote Spanish-American villages of modern
New Mexico; it has been said that if a Spaniard of those times
should come to earth today, he could understand the Spanish spoken
in New Mexico more readily than the modern language of his native

The interaction of the diverse elements of the population is slowly
working towards homogeneity, dominated more and more by the irre-
sistible middle current of Anglo-American civilization and the modern
American tempo.

The mingling of the three racial elements early gave rise to the need
of terms to differentiate them. Before the United States occupation the
non-Indians of the region, as persons of Spanish descent and subjects
of Mexico, were known as Mexicans, and proudly so. When the great
influx of non-Spanish people occurred after 1848, the New Mexicans
referred to them generally as "gringos." In origin, this term was not