It takes time to sort through 23,000 years of history.
Especially when the research has unveiled so many unheard stories.
During the early days of the pandemic Katie Stone envisioned New Mexico history lessons for groups of children.
Then it turned remote as mass gatherings were canceled.
As the founder and executive director of the podcast, “The Children’s Hour,” Stone was forced to think outside the box to get information to the masses.
“The Children’s Hour,” is an internationally-syndicated, award-winning Kids Public Radio show. It has launched a new podcast series, “A Brief History of the American Southwest for Kids.”
The six-episode series of 20-minute podcasts comes with a Learn Along Guide that meets and cites national education standards.
Stone says the podcast series is geared toward children in 3rd through 12th grades, and offers students the opportunity to learn the latest research in the timeline of the settlement of the Southwestern United States.
“New Mexico and the Southwest’s history predates the pilgrims coming to America,” Stone says. “That important history isn’t being taught nationally. That bothered me so much, I decided to create resources so everyone, anywhere, can learn it.”
Stone is making the podcasts available to teachers everywhere.
The series was produced from six virtual field trips in New Mexico, where more than 350 young people attended the live virtual field trips with more than 250 of those children from Indigenous schools. The team worked with the Native American Community Academy (NACA) School and the NACA Inspired Schools Network to offer free field trips, and to give students the opportunity to learn from Indigenous experts.
Prior to launching the series, each podcast went through a history review team that included New Mexico State Historian Rob Martinez, multiple history professors, pueblo educators, local tribal historians and other historians to certify their accuracy.
“We are really proud of this series and invite everyone to learn about and fall in love with the American Southwest and its unique history,” Stone says. “I think this sets the record straight.”
For this week’s column, Stone took time to talk about the podcast series and how she curated the information into 20-minute intervals of learning. We even get a sixth treat this column.
(23,000 years ago to around 10,000 years ago)
The first episode begins 23,000 years ago in what is known today as White Sands National Park, where fossilized footprints were found.
The footprints preserved in the sand reveal days in the lives of the people who first came to the high desert Southwest, and include footprints from now extinct megafauna, like the giant sloth.
“Finding of these footprints puts humans in this area way before we originally thought,” Stone says. “What’s great about this is the footprints that were found near White Sands are those of a teenager.”
Stone is joined by White Sands Resource Program Manager David Bustos, archaeologist Mary Weahkee from the New Mexico Office of Archaeological Studies, and Diego Medina, Tribal Preservation Officer for the Piro-Manso-Tiwa tribe, located near White Sands.
“Diego at one point said, ‘It’s really like visiting our ancestors,’ ” Stone says. “Indigenous people knew about the footprints all along. If only we would have talked to them before, it would have been discovered earlier.”
(10,000 years ago to 1,000 years ago)
Stone says as communities grew in the desert, there was a level of ingenuity that we can see today.
The second episode focuses on Chaco Canyon, where historians dive into how the complexity of its architecture, engineering and governance demonstrates the sophistication of the Southwestern cultures.
Stone says there is a focus on the development of roads following trade routes that are still used today, along with architecture that celebrates celestial mysteries, and engineered waterways designed to transport precious water resources to grow foods to feed thousands of people.
“What we’re doing is setting the record straight,” Stone says. “When we look at history, it can be seen as arcane and primitive. Chaco Canyon is an example of how Indigenous people lived. And it also shows us how we are still using roadways and acequias, which were developed by the geniuses in the Southwest.”
The episode also features Chaco Canyon Interpretive Center educator Nathan Hatfield, as well as Weahkee and Pueblo educator Jon Ghahate.
(Zunis meet the Spanish around 500 years ago)
In July 1540, the Ashiwi people watched as a group of armed strangers – who turned out to be Europeans – came into the desert Southwest, on horseback, and with an agenda of finding the cities of gold they had heard were located there.
Stone says the episode focuses on the events that happened and how this moment changed the course of history of the people already living in this area.
“All of this history is so important because it changed the course,” Stone says. “I cold-called Zuni Pueblo before working on this episode. I was introduced to Curtis Quam, who became such a wonderful resource for information of the Zuni people.”
Quam is the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center director and is featured with Weahkee, Ghahate and Medina.
The pueblo peoples had enough of the many demands and harsh punishments from the new neighbors. They organized a revolt, sending the priests and other Europeans packing.
“(This episode) tells the story of Po’Pay, who is the architect behind the Pueblo Revolt of 1680,” Stone says.
“Po’Pay’s leadership united pueblo communities, which resulted in forcing the Spanish to realize their only option was to leave.”
Stone is joined by Ghahate and Medina in the episode.
Within two decades, the Spanish settlers returned to the Rio Grande Valley, laying claim to the fertile valleys to build haciendas, churches and towns, to be owned by the Spanish crown.
Stone says the episode features Los Luceros Historic Site near Alcalde.
“Representatives of the Spanish crown returned to terra nueva to claim territory in the southwest lost in the Pueblo Revolt,” Stone says. “Estancias, or ranches, such as Los Luceros Historic Site is an example of how ranches operated, what they contained, and the impact upon the numerous, diverse Indigenous communities in what was to become the state of New Mexico, then the eventual Mexican Independence and territorial acquisition by the United States and subsequent statehood.”
Experts include Los Luceros Historic Site employees Carlyn Stewart and Rebecca Ward, along with Medina, Weahkee and Dava Fratello, Principal of the Comanche Academy in Oklahoma.
“They talk about the geopolitical and actual battles between Spain, Mexico and the United States to control the Southwest,” Stone says. “We will learn about the encomienda, the Land Grants, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and the impact on the population of Pueblo people.”
(1864 to present)
In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo made the American Southwest a United States territory where the land would soon be crisscrossed with train tracks and roads, with new economies of health, culture and anthropological tourism, as well as harsh and inhumane impacts to Indigenous peoples.
“This tells the story of how the Camino Real and the Santa Fe Trail transformed into routes which paved the way for railway development,” Stone says. “We learn about the harsh and inhumane impact these changes had on the people who already lived in the Southwest, and what they had to endure to preserve and sustain their communities and culture while their lands were annexed to the U.S. government.”
Experts include historian Melanie LaBorwit, along with Ghahate and Weahkee.