New Mexicans take prominent roles in politics

Hispanic Heritage Month

New Mexico has earned the reputation as the Land of Enchantment and that not only applies to the landscape, but the people as well, helping the citizens of New Mexico and the United States in establishing our rich political arena.

From the early settlement days, it was important for men who eventually became New Mexico citizens, then its leaders, to step into the role of establishing the Province of New Mexico.

“In the 18th century, we have governors such as Juan Bautista de Anza who was originally from Sonora in the Arizona area but was transferred to New Mexico to become the governor here,” said Joseph Sanchez from the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico. “We have a very famous person in Juan Bautista de Anza who also moved forward with the promotion of land grants, etcetra.”

With the addition of land grants, prominent Spanish families were allowed to establish roots and the offspring from some of those families would go on to become political leaders themselves.

“Genealogically, we have old families from 1598 and from the second expedition into New Mexico that settled the area in 1600 in a series of expeditions of populating New Mexico,” added Sanchez. “Well into the 18th century, these people are still here and are a very important part of our history, culture and connection to the past.”

Starting in the twentieth century, some even became leaders representing New Mexico in Washington, D.C.

“In the modern day, we have outstanding individuals like Senator Dennis Chavez for example,” said Sanchez. “Very prominent and was a congressman and very influential in the dealings, not only in New Mexico, but in our national institutions and governance.”

Other leaders like Manuel Lujan and Joseph Montoya not only helped to gain recognition for the state, but their work went on to benefit citizens around the country.

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