Education

PRIOR to the coming of the Franciscans, who brought with them
the Old World concepts of education, the Indians of the South-
west already had evolved a traditional system of instruction which
was suited to their needs. Indian youths were taught the meaning of
tribal dances and legends, the making of pottery, the construction of
dwelling places, the preparation of food and herbs, and the conversion
of pelts and hides into clothing.

After the missionaries converted the Indians to the Christian faith,
the neophytes attending early mission schools were taught the Mass in
Latin. In March 1609, the viceroy instructed Governor Peralta "to
teach all the Indians, especially the children," the Spanish language.
They were also instructed in the handicrafts and agriculture of the
white man. No provision was made, however, for the formal education
of descendants of the Spanish conquistadores until August 1721, when
public schools were established in New Mexico by royal decree. Little
came of this, as the schools were closed shortly afterward for lack of
funds. Not until Mexico won its independence from Spain was a
practical movement launched toward general education for the common
people. Meanwhile instruction of both Indians and Spaniards was left
to the church. This led to the founding of at least one mission school
in each Spanish settlement and similar schools in most of the Indian
pueblos.

On April 27, 1822, the provincial deputation passed a law to estab-
lish public schools in New Mexico; yet in 1832 there were only six.
Governor Albino Perez' proclamation, July 16, 1836, relating to the
institution of a public school system, was the first of its kind issued by a
governor of New Mexico. The proclamation was without practical
results.

When the United States annexed the territory, the native peoples
were found to be generally illiterate. The extreme isolation of com-
munities was largely responsible for this condition, and from 1800 until
General Kearny's occupation of the region in 1846 education had been
a private endeavor. Within a few years this condition began to change,
and the promotion of parochial education was accelerated by Archbishop
Lamy, who established at Santa Fe in 1851 the first English school in
the territory. The following year a boarding school for girls, the