With less than a month before my presentation at the Southwestern College’s conference about Historical Trauma & Opiate Abuse in Northern New Mexico, I find myself having been immersed within the topic for several weeks. Though at times I have been frustrated in my research and preparation, I am thrilled at the opportunity to speak and dialogue with attendees about what is probably the most important class I’ve ever given.
The thing I hope to accomplish is to at least awaken the realization within people that our well-publicized opiod problem in Northern New Mexico could in fact be related with the loss of land that resulted from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This land loss resulted in a whole region becoming traumatized; I’ve been collecting evidence and I am as certain of my position as I’ve ever been. I do hope there are some attendees who will argue with me and tell me that I’m full of crap. All that they’ll do in arguing with me is make me better at defending my findings. The truth is that to defend my position and research is to defend my own life and ancestry.
I’ve spent the better part of my adult life researching what the hell happened to my great-great grandparent’s land within San Ildefonso Pueblo. I know, for a fact, that in 1936 FDR signed a land grant that provided my great grandparents title to the property, but after that – there’s no record of anything. I also know, for a fact, that long before FDR signed the land back to my family, the US government evicted them from their land. They had to leave land they had always known and worked; they also had to try and negotiate their new life using a language that they didn’t even speak. My great-great grandmother hung herself as a result of the eviction and its consequences; her pain is the same pain that has flowed through subsequent generations of families within my beloved region.
You see, mine wasn’t the only family impacted by the Treaty. Dozens of families lost their land and had to find new ways of life that I believe are still impacting them negatively. The Treaty and its enforcement created a culture of trauma that has led to having the highest per capita opiod overdose rate in the country. As I work, it’s hard to not get pissed off by this knowledge…