Home General Mabel and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca: House Making in New Mexico

Mabel and Fabiola Cabeza de Baca: House Making in New Mexico

The historical past of ladies within the American West is just like the historical past of air. You may definitely write historical past with out it. You simply cannot have historical past with out it.*
Rereading these introductory sentences to House Lands : How Girls Made the West, I considered a dialog I had with Mabel’s biographer Lois Rudnick the place the query arose: “What would Taos have been like with out Mabel?” A part of the “House Lands” exhibition (at the moment on the New Mexico Historical past Museum) is devoted to Mabel and her Santa Fe counterparts, poet Alice Corbin and author Mary Austin, who represented the trendy “New Girls.” By way of each her salons and her written essays Mabel brazenly flaunted conference about ladies in issues of affection, household, and profession. Within the interval between World Wars I and II, concepts of feminist emancipation additionally reached into the lives of New Mexico’s Pueblo and Hispanic populations.
One in all these ladies, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (referred to within the Dictionary of Literary Biography as a beloved and practically legendary cultural heroine), served as a premier instance of a local Spanish-speaking New Mexican whose life was certainly exceptional.
Fabiola Cabeza de Baca in entrance of a New Mexico schoolhouse, photographer and date unknown. Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Gilbert {Photograph} Assortment, no. 000-603-0002, Middle for the Southwest Analysis, College of New Mexico.

Born in 1894 in La Liendre, New Mexico Territory, she grew up on the household ranch. Simply after highschool Fabiola joined quite a lot of younger Hispanics recruited to show in New Mexico’s rural areas. She started her profession within the one-room faculties of Guadalupe County, and would quickly quantity amongst a handful of the earliest of New Mexico’s Hispanic pioneers in schooling. Whereas instructing, she intermittently attended New Mexico Regular College (now generally known as Highlands College) in Las Vegas, NM. She took a 12 months off to review at Centro de Estudios Historicos in Madrid, Spain, then obtained her B.A. in Pedagogy from her alma mater in 1921. Fabiola spent some extra years within the classroom, then continued her schooling at New Mexico Faculty of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (now New Mexico State College), graduating with an M. A. in House Economics in 1929. That 12 months Fabiola started working for the U.S. authorities, at a time when the communal land cultivated for hundreds of years by the Hispanic farmers of northern New Mexico got here beneath federal authorized assault, once they misplaced conventional grazing lands to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service. 
In her job as extension agent Fabiola introduced new scientific concepts and the most recent family know-how to rural households within the distant, wide-spread villages of northern New Mexico. Whereas instructing ladies the most recent gardening and poultry-raising strategies and introducing trendy canning kettles and strain cookers utilizing the most recent authorities bulletins on meals preparation, Fabiola additionally noticed the worth in and labored to protect the individuals’s conventional methods. As an extension agent Fabiola spent practically thirty years of her life on the highway. A paragraph from Homelands: How Girls Made the West supplies an outline of the work she did throughout that point.
She helped hard-pressed households get entry to canning tools and stitching machines, and made data out there to households not snug with English by talking Spanish (and later Tewa and Towa), translating authorities bulletins from English into Spanish, and writing her personal bilingual supplies. Cabeza de Baca in flip heard tales she would treasure; collected folklore about natural medication, planting practices, and spiritual rituals; and realized a lot of what she would later recount about New Mexican cooking in her 1939 e book Historic Cookery. She saved voluminous notes about cures, rituals, and recipes and took palpable pleasure in cataloging native data, strategies, and abilities, observing the mingling of religion and science.**
“Pueblo Women Studying to Use Strain Cooker, 1930s,” by Frances E. and Henry Prior Clark. Braun Analysis Library Assortment, Autry Nationwide Middle; OP.160
Fabiola’s budding profession as an extension agent might have ended after a prepare hit her automobile in 1932. Accidents to her leg ultimately resulted in its amputation. Fabiola could have misplaced her leg, however not her braveness or her need to work. Throughout her two-year convalescence, she wrote extension brochures on canning and meals preparation. Again on the highway, she visited hundreds of properties and made notes on the cultural practices of the villages she served and picked up recipes from the Anglo, Indian, and Hispanic households from her extension circuit. Fabiola’s outreach broadened when The Santa Fe Scene printed a collection of vignettes she had written that included recipes, and KVSF broadcast her weekly bilingual radio program on homemaking.
Within the midst of her work as extension agent, in 1935 Fabiola joined along with such notable Hispanic New Mexicans as politician and suffragist Nina Otero Warren and author Cleofas Jaramillo to discovered the Sociedad Folklorico de Santa Fe (Folklore Society of Santa Fe), a corporation devoted to preserving the Spanish language and Hispanic folkways in New Mexico. Observing the toll Americanization was taking up the centuries-old traditions she had grown up with, Fabiola determined to protect this cultural historical past in writing. The articles she penned for The Santa Fe Scene expanded into The Good Life (1949), a e book printed as a tribute to the Hispanic traditions of New Mexico. Six years later her subsequent e book, We Fed Them Cactus (1954), recounted the historical past of 4 generations of her household and their transition from rich Spanish land grant holders to struggling ranchers beneath a brand new governmental authorized system that violated their earlier title to the land.
Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (far left) with the Sociedad Folklorica in 1945. Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photograph Archives.

One other instructing alternative arose when Fabiola went to Mexico as a consultant of the United Nations. From 1950 to 1959 she developed dwelling economics applications in Mexico, and arrange demonstration facilities among the many Tarascan Indians. Later she additionally educated extension brokers in Central and South America. Following her retirement in 1959 Fabiola continued her group work, delivered lectures, and labored as a coach and guide for the Peace Corps. She died in Albuquerque in 1991 at age 97.
Whereas engaged on the e book, Stones into Bread: The Lives and Letters of Peggy Pond Church and Corina Aurora Santistevan, Two Girls of New Mexico, I found that within the 1940s Corina labored with Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, who procured a strain cooker for communal utilization and demonstrated its use in Taos. It led me to surprise if Fabiola supplied coaching for a few of Mabel’s cooks.
One factor is for sure: in case you are within the space, you continue to have time to see the “House Lands” exhibition in Santa Fe on the New Mexico Historical past Museum. I’m planning to see it yet one more time earlier than the present closes on September 11th. It’s a seminal, thought-provoking exhibition. In case you don’t have a possibility to see it, I heartily advocate the e book. You’ll see Mabel in a unique context and are available to understand the contributions of exceptional ladies like Fabiola, ladies who made the American West dwelling.
Adios for now,
* House Lands : How Girls Made the West by Virginia Scharff and Carolyn Brucken Los Angeles : Autry Nationwide Middle of the American West, College of California Press, 2010 : 1
** House Lands, Chapter 1 “House on Earth: Girls and Land within the Rio Arriba”: 34
For extra data on Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, see Tey Diana Rebolledo’s introduction to Fabiola’s e book We Fed Them Cactus. Albuquerque: College of New Mexico Press, 1998. (Diana gave a lecture on Fabiola this previous July as a part of the “House Land” exhibition programming.) Additionally, Fabriola’s preface to The Good Life: New Mexico Traditions and Meals (included over 80 recipes and an introduction by author Ina Sizer Cassidy). Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1986.

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