Coronado ranger earns promotion

Ranger Ethan Ortega in a field outside the Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo. Ortega has been named the new Instructional Coordinator for the New Mexico Historic Sites. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs)

A familiar face at Coronado Historic Site has been named the new Instructional Coordinator for the New Mexico Historic Sites.

Ethan Ortega, a historic site ranger, was selected to fill the position that’s been vacant since mid-June, according to a New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs news release issued this week.

“In his new position, Ranger Ortega will continue to service Coronado Historic Site as well as the entire Northern Region of New Mexico Historic Sites, including Jemez Historic Site in Jemez Springs and Los Luceros property in Alcalde,” the release reads.

Initially, he will work on “reimagining” the exhibits at Jemez Historic Site and will work with Jemez Instructional Coordinator Marlon Magdalena on public outreach and digital media promoting the sites, the department said.

In the past three years, Ortega has redeveloped and redesigned most of the exhibits at Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo, including the overhaul of the core exhibit, “The Good Earth: Expressions of Two Cultures,” which featured the addition of displays relating to Coronado’s Indios Amigos or Native American auxiliaries, according to the department.

“Most recently, Ortega completed an ‘Enigma Named Esteban,’ which explored story behind the African slave who made first contact with the Pueblo peoples a year before the coming of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado,” the release reads.

For his work at the Coronado site, Ortega received the Historical Society of New Mexico Edgar Lee Hewett Award in April 2017 and the Richard A. Bice Award for Archaeological Achievement by the Archaeological Society of New Mexico in May. He was also given the Cordell-Powers Prize for having the best student-run presentation at the Pecos Conference last August, the department said.

“On behalf of New Mexico Historic Sites, we congratulate Ethan Ortega on his new position and all of his awards over the past year,” Patrick Moore, director of New Mexico Historic Sites, said in a statement. “Hard work pays off! After an exhaustive search, Ethan was the clear choice for this position.”

Ortega replaces Sharon Walker, who left in mid-June.

The New Mexico Historic Site system was established in 1931 by an Act for the Preservation of the Scientific Resources of New Mexico, the news release explains. And, under the direction of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, six of seven sites are active and open to the public. They are: Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial, Coronado, Fort Selden, Jemez, Fort Stanton and Lincoln.