A Language of Cultural Preservation

Quote: “A lot of the culture here is a mixture of Spanish and Mexican cultures. The spirit comes from our Native blood.”

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Angélica Navarro Ceballos: Yo soy Angélica Navarro Ceballos y soy de Cómala, Colima, México. Soy Mexicana. Llegué aquí el 20 de Noviembre del 92 aquí a Ribera, San Miguel. Me vine a trabajar con unas personas, productores de California. Me vine a trabajar con ellos. Se estuvieron como 2 o 3 años aquí y luego se regresaron para atrás. Trabajé con ellos como un año o dos. Y luego en el transcurso lo conocí a él [Ricardo], nos casamos después de un año. Nos casamos a los 3 meses de conocernos [laughter]! ¡Es una experiencia tremenda! Yo venía a la iglesia caminando desde de ahí de arriba de la loma… él iba al pie de mi pero no me decía nada. Nomas me miraba y yo decía que ni lo conocía. Ya al fin se animó a hablarme después de misa.

(My name is Angélica Navarro Ceballos and I am from Cómala, Colima, México. I got here on November 20th, 1992 to Ribera, San Miguel. I came to work with people who were producers from California. They stayed for like 2 or 3 years and then they returned. And then with time I met him (Ricardo), we got married after a year. We got married after knowing each other for 3 months (laughter). It was tremendous! I would come walking all the way from the hill… and he would follow me but not say anything. He would look at me but I didn’t know him. He finally built courage to talk to me after church one day.)

Ricardo Ribera: Cuando yo primero la conocí, yo tenía otra novia y estaba teniendo problemas, y yo estaba en la iglesia rezando cuando le pregunté a Diós, “¿Como no me puedes poner una buena mujer en el camino?” Y fue cuando volteó Angélica. Después de misa estaban teniendo un desayuno que estaba muy lleno, y mi primo me dijo que se iba mover para dejarme con ella. Vino y se sentó al lado de mi, y nos hicimos amigos. Por mucho tiempo platicamos.

(When I first met her, I had another girlfriend and was having problems with her, and then one day I was in church and asked God, ‘Why can’t you put a good woman in my path?’ And just at that moment Angélica turned to see me. After that, there was a a breakfast that was really full of people, and my cousin moved from his church so I can talk to her. She sat next to me and then we became friends. And we talked for a long time.)

Angélica: Platicabamos pero yo no le entendía nada [laughter]! 

(We would talk but I would not understand him anything (laughter)!)

Ricardo: Yo nomás hablaba Inglés. 

(I only talked English at the time.)

Angélica: Él nomás Ingles y yo no entendía Inglés.       

(I did not understand any English.)

Ricardo: Yo hablaba como hablamos aquí… Spanglish. Y con el tiempo me fui enseñando más Español.

(I would talk how we talk here… Spanglish. With time I learned more Spanish.)

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Home in Ribera, NM

Ricardo: Yo me llamo Richard Nicolás Ribera. Mis gentes vinieron con los primeros Españoles. El otro lado de mi familia vinieron con Oñate y luego otros de mi abuela vinieron de Juárez. Y así todos se formaron aquí en el Valle de Pecos. Yo vengo de una familia de 7 hermanos y 2 hermanas. Mi mamá fue criada en San José. Mi papá era de aquí de Ribera. Y ahora mi esposa y yo tenemos 4 niñas.

(My peoples came with the first peoples of Spain. On one side of my family they came with Oñate and then on my other grandmother’s side they came from Juarez. And that’s how my family came to the Pecos Valley. My mom was raised in San Jose. My dad was from Ribera. And my wife and I now have 4 daughters.)

Angélica: Fue similar y diferente aquí que en México. El Español que hablan aquí siempre les tenía que decir que repitieran para poder entender. Había palabras que no había escuchado yo antes. Al principio cuando mi patrona me dijo que íbamos a ir a Las Vegas… yo dije, “Wow! Las Vegas, Nevada [laughter]! Y luego cuando llegué aquí dije, “Que feo está [laughter]!

Encontré que la gente era amable. La comida era diferente también. La iglesia es similar. Hacen tradiciones aquí que hacen allá en México. El patrón de San Miguel es también allá. La iglesia que iba allá también era San Miguel del Espíritu Santo. Ya después de 25 años ya me acostumbre.

(It was similar and different from Mexico where I was coming from. The type of Spanish they speak here I would always have to tell them to repeat themselves for me to understand. There were words I had never heard. At first when my boss had told me we were going to go to Las Vegas… I said Wow! Las Vegas, Nevada (laughter)! And when I got here I was like ‘how ugly!’ (laughter)

Ricardo: Tuve la oportunidad de viajar a muchos estados de costa a costa. Como dice el dicho – No hay mejor lugar que en casa. No place like home. Para mi no hay mejor lugar que este. Hasta que conocí Colima [laughter]. Y ahora el plan que tenemos es cuando ya nos retiremos, vivir parte del año allá. Ya no vamos a pasar el invierno aquí. Allá en Colima es verano todo el año. Y nos regresamos para el verano de Ribera.

(I had the opportunity to travel from coast to coast. Like the saying goes – there is no place like home. No place like home. There is no better place for me. Until I met Colima (laughter). Now when I retire we want to spend part of the year out there. So we don’t have to spend winters here. Colima has summer year round. And then we can return to Ribera.)

La diferencia en mi infancia es que la pasábamos más tiempo afuera. Jugando y vamos a pescar en el río. No tanta tele como ahora. Ahora la plebe se la pasa con la pura tele. Se la pasan con los teléfonos, parece que los tienen pintados en la mano.

Viviana : You don’t take me fishing!

Ricardo: What I find special about this place is being around family and friends. And the security that brings. You are not afraid of leaving your house unlocked. You’re not afraid of anybody coming in and doing destruction. Growing up in a big city, you trust nobody. You don’t even know your neighbors sometimes. That’s what I like about where we live, we know each other. We know what our culture is and we are very accepting of other cultures that come in, too. That’s why you see a lot of Anglo people coming in. Because we are very accepting people.

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Historic Ribera, NM

This area was first a territory of Spain. We grew up with a lot of the Spanish culture. And then it became a territory of Mexico and then we developed that culture, too. Tenemos la cultura Española y Mexicana, pero las costumbres y el espíritu que tenemos viene de la sangre India que tenemos. In this area there was a pueblo, but it moved to Jémez. But a lot of our culture comes from the Indians also. One of my grandmothers was a Zuni that came from my grandfather from Santa Fe. They came in like the 1700s. That particular part of my family tree, they were sent over here when they were noticing that there was more and more Anglos coming in traveling west. They started spreading out some of the people from the east to set up border entries. That’s when the port of entry became San Miguel. All the wagon trains that use to come through this area had to stop over here. This was the port of entry. And here is where they would be charged the taxes to be able to travel through what was Mexico.

My grandparents would take my mother and work in the fields as migrants. Those are stories that my mother tells me. A lot of the culture here is a mixture of Spanish and Mexican cultures. The spirit comes from our Native blood.

Angélica: Nos juntamos todos en la iglesia como comunidad. Ya me siento más como de aquí de allá [laughter]. Le digo a mi esposo que no sé si soy de Nuevo México o de México. Porque cuando voy a México digo que me quiero ir para Ribera.

(We gather at church as a community. I feel more from here now then from out there (laughter) I tell my husband that I don’t know anymore if I am from New Mexico or Mexico. Because when I go to Mexico now I want to come back to Ribera.)

Ricardo: Antes cada pueblo tenía su escuela. Aquí en San Miguel tenían una escuela Católica. Muchos que eran Católicos venían aquí en la escuela con las hermanas. Y después hicieron el edificio que está ahí en la loma. Esa era la primera escuela Católica. Y luego tomó control una escuela pública por medio del gobierno. Fue cuando el gobierno empezó a poner mas escuelas. Y después hicieron una escuela para unir a todos los pueblos de la área. Íbamos hasta el grado nueve, y ya después nos íbamos a Las Vegas hasta que nos graduamos del 12 grado. Nos transportaban en bus. Y así conoce uno mas gente. Así conocí mucha gente de Las Vegas. Antes los pueblos se peleaban mucho. Pero luego nos unimos porque cuando íbamos a Las Vegas, éramos extranjeros nosotros.

(Before each pueblo had their own school. Here in San Miguel we had a Catholic Church. Many that were Catholic would come here to school with the sisters. And then they built the building that is in the hill and that would become the first Catholic school. And then the state took over the public schools. That’s when the government started putting more schools. And they built a school to unite all the neighboring pueblos. We would until 9th grade, and then we would go to Las Vegas until 12th grade. We would of on a bus. And that’s how we met more people. That’s how we met people in Las Vegas. Before that, the pueblos would fight a lot. But then we would unite when we would collectively go to Las Vegas, because there we were foreigners.)

En el colegio yo fui a la escuela en Highlands y fui a Luna Community College allá en Las Vegas. Una de mis hijas está haciendo su Masters en Highlands. Otra está en UNM. Y otro está en el colegio de Santa Fe. Ya se están yendo para diferentes áreas. La educación es el futuro. Tenemos que abrirnos las puertas, el Hispano, esa es la única puerta que tenemos. Si no cruzamos esa puertas, nos van a querer poniendo en mal como Donald Trump. Nosotros tenemos que abrir esas puertas para no dejarlos hacer lo que quieran con nosotros.

(I went to college to Highlands University and Luna Community College in Las Vegas. One of my daughters is doing her MA in Highlands University. Another one is at UNM. And another one is Santa Fe College. They are going to all different areas. Education is our future. We have to open doors, for Hispanic people, that is the only doors we have open. If we do not cross those doors, they are going to keep us in the bad like Donald Trump does. We have to open doors so we do not let them do what they want to us.)

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Challenges & Identity

La mayoría de gente aquí salen a trabajar a Santa Fe. Van a la capital porque hay mucho trabajo. Muchas gentes aquí trabajan en muchas cosas. Hay gente aquí que son doctores, que caminan aquí hasta Santa Fe o Las Vegas. Muchos maestros que no enseñan escuela aquí pero que enseñan en Santa Fe o Las Vegas. Tenemos mucha gente de construcción que tienen sus compañías. No trabajan aquí, pero tienen sus compañías en Santa Fe o Las Vegas. Mi esposa y yo los dos trabajamos para el departamento del correo. Pero también tuvimos que salir de aquí para ir a trabajar a otra área. Es muy poco el trabajo que hay aquí. Muy pocos negocios. El potencial para poner negocios está. La agricultura aquí es como un trabajo secundario.

(Most of the people go to work in Santa Fe. They go to the capital for the jobs. Many people here work on different things. There are doctors, they have to go all the way to Santa Fe or Las Vegas. Many teachers that have to teach in those areas as well. Many people in construction that have their own companies. My wife and I work for the mail service. There is very little work opportunities here. Little amount of businesses. There is potential for businesses to exist here. Agriculture is like a secondary workforce here.)

Siempre pregunta que si somos Latinos o somos Hispanos. Y tenemos que estar consientes que es otra manera de dividirnos. Tenemos que estar unidos. No tenemos que volar nomás una bandera. Antes nomás éramos Nativos y Mexicanos. Y ahora no. Ahora somos de todas partes. Como dijo mi esposa, su mejor amiga es de Chile. Hay otra gentes que somos de otros países también. Donald Trump está echándole a los Mexicanos ahorita, pero también a otra gente de otros lados también les afecta porque para Donald Trump, todos somos Mexicanos. Eso es lo que tenemos que prevenir nosotros. Si les enseñamos a la gente nuestra cultura, nos aceptan más. Mucha gente no conoce la cultura Hispana. Este es el país que puedes hacer lo que quieres hacer. Si se puede, es nomás que uno tiene que hacerle la lucha.

(There is always the question if we are Latinos or Hispanics. But we have to be conscious that is another way for us to be divided. We have to be united. We have to fly only one flag. Before we were only Native or Mexican. And now no. Now we are from many places. There people from many countries here now. Donald Trump is talking bad about Mexicans right now, but we have to realize that it affects everybody because for Donald Trump we are all Mexicans. That’s what we have to prevent. If we show people our cultures, they will accept us. Many people still doesn’t know the Hispanic culture. This is a country where you can become who you want to be. You just have to work hard for it.)

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Next Generation

Viviana: My name is Viviana Guadalupe Ribera Navarro. And I live in Ribera, New Mexico. Like my Dad said, tt’s nice growing up around family and friends. I am the youngest one. I have aunties that are in their 20’s, so it’s not easy growing up with older people because you don’t have a lot of people to talk to. I guess that made me more mature. I go to school in Ribera. There is a school in the mountains called The Valley. I have been going there all my life. I’ve been told to go to a different district but I want to keep the tradition because all of my sisters went to Valley and they went to West High School, so that’s what I want to do, too. Plus the Valley is my home, too, because I know everybody there and everybody knows me.

My culture is very important to me! I love to embrace it. I love being different from everybody else because I tell everybody that my mom is from Mexico. They are like, “Really?” That’s what I like about my culture, because it separates me from everybody else. Some people might have some relatives there [Mexico], but they may have never experienced it. I really do like it over there [Mexico]. It’s another community thing over there, because they know me, but I don’t know them. I got lost over there one time when I was 3 years old, and an old lady found me and I guess she was our cousin.

I think I want to pass the culture to them [younger family members] by speaking Spanish. They might end up like me, only understanding it and not speaking it that well. I want them to get the full understanding of it. Their mom doesn’t help them that much with their Spanish.

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