A New Mexico Federal Writers' Project Book
By Ann Lacy and Anne Valley-Fox, compilers and editors
Frontier stories of the Old West from writers in the Federal Writers’ Project in New Mexico between 1936 and 1940.
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Between 1850 and 1912, the year New Mexico was granted statehood, the Territory of New Mexico was a wild and dangerous place. Homesteaders, cowboys, ranchers, sheepherders, buffalo hunters, prospectors, treasure hunters and railroad men pushing the borders of the western frontier met with resistance from man and animal alike. Native Americans, who had lived on the land defending their boundaries and way of life for centuries, reacted to the wave of outsiders in various ways. The agrarian Pueblo peoples along the Rio Grande largely kept to themselves. Apache, Navajo and Ute tribes sometimes attempted to co-exist with the newcomers but most often they fought against encroachment. Anglo and Mexican outlaws ran roughshod across the frontier and there was no shortage of bears, wolves, mountain lions, blizzards and bad water to unsettle the newcomers. This collection of frontier stories vividly illustrates the range of struggles, triumphs and catastrophes faced by settlers who hoped to tame the land and inhabitants of Territorial New Mexico.
Between 1936 and 1940, field workers in the Federal Writers’ Project (a branch of the government-funded Works Progress Administration, or WPA, later called Work Projects Administration) recorded authentic accounts of life in the early days of New Mexico. These original documents, published here as a story collection for the first time, reflect the conditions of the New Mexico Territory as played out in dynamic clashes between individuals and groups competing for control of the land and resources.
Frontier Stories, the second in the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book Series, features informative background and historic photographs. Forthcoming books in the series include collections on mining and buried treasure, Hispano folk life, and cattle trails and ranching.
Ann Lacy, co-editor of the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book series, has lived in New Mexico since 1979. She has been an Artist-in-Residence in the New Mexico Artists-in-the-Schools Program and a studio artist exhibiting her work in museums and galleries. She has worked as a researcher and writer for Project Crossroads, specializing in New Mexico history and culture, since 1987. She received a City of Santa Fe 2000 Heritage Preservation Award.
Anne Valley-Fox, co-editor of the New Mexico Federal Writers’ Project Book series, is a poet and writer who has worked for two decades as a writer/researcher for Project Crossroads. Her publications include Your Mythic Journey: Finding Meaning in Your Life through Writing and Storytelling, Sending the Body Out, Fish Drum 15 and Point of No Return. How Shadows Are Bundled is her latest collection of poems.
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