Santa Fe Trail 200th Anniversary Events |

A visit to a historic Kozlowski’s trading post, a blessing by a Cochiti Pueblo elder, a gala Santa Fe Trail themed dinner/performance and a special reenactment of the historic encounter that changed the course of America are all part of a two-day commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the 800-mile Santa Fe Trail from Nov. 13 – 14, 2021.

The main theme of this 200th anniversary commemoration is the Indians of the Santa Fe Trail. The Indians of the Plains had a vital trading network with each other for thousands of years preceding Santa Fe’s international trail of commerce. Then trade between the U.S. and Mexico opened in 1821. The first pack horses loaded with goods left Franklin, Mo., led by Missouri trader William Becknell in September 1821 for Santa Fe. When Becknell arrived in Santa Fe, he was greeted by Gov. Facundo Melgares (the first Mexican governor of New Mexico after independence from Spain).

Santa Fe Trail History

The Santa Fe Trail roughly followed a route through Missouri, across Indian Territory in the present-day states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado and onto Santa Fe in northern Mexico in a journey that took approximately two months each way. The Trail became a multi-million dollar conduit of trade and commerce between the eastern United States, New Mexico, and Indigenous Americans. It also made possible the U.S. conquest of previously held land by Mexico and Native tribes.

From that first trade mission, thousands more followed in the years to come establishing the Santa Fe Trail as a multi-million dollar conduit for commerce between the East and West.  Hispano merchants from New Mexico (mainly the Armijo, Chaves, Otero, Perea and Yrizarri families) dominated the trade by the 1840s and again from the railway terminus as the railroads built westward. The railroads shortened the wagon road after the Civil War with eastern termini at Junction City in 1866, Fort Harker then Fort Hays in 1867, Sheridan in 1868, Kit Carson in 1870, Granada in 1873, and Las Vegas and Lamy in 1879. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway with its better mode of transporting freight brought an end to Santa Fe Trail in 1880.

Wagon from the Santa Fe Trail. Adobe Stock Image.

200th Anniversary Events

Given the Trail’s prominent past in New Mexico and Santa Fe, the End of the Trail Chapter has organized many events involving the cultures brought together by this historic event in 1821 in the two-day commemoration called The Arrival — La Legada.

Dr. James Riding In, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation, will give a lecture called “American Indians on the Santa Fe Trail” at the New Mexico Museum of Art in the St. Francis Auditorium. He recently retired after being a founding member of Arizona State University’s American Indian Studies Program. Dr. Riding has devoted his life to working in repatriation (writing reports and helping to repatriate and rebury thousands of ancestral human remains and funerary objects stolen by museums, universities, government agencies, state historical societies and other grave looters). He also served as an expert witness in cases involving offensive sports mascots/team names and protecting sacred places.

Thought leader Regis Pecos, a citizen of Cochiti Pueblo, will give the “Blessing and Land Acknowledgement” at the St. Francis Auditorium. He has served the people of New Mexico for decades as Chief of Staff to Rep. Ben Lujan. As a senior policy advisor he worked to improve Indian Education and more recently tribal library infrastructure and operations. Pecos made history as the first Native American trustee in the Ivy League when he was appointed a Princeton Trustee in 1997. More than two decades ago, he founded and is co-director of the think-tank Leadership Institute at Santa Fe Indian School.

Performers will include Marlon Magdalena, a citizen of Jemez Pueblo is an outstanding Native American artist, educator, and performer. He performs with Native American Style flutes of his own and by others. He is also the Instructional Coordinator at the Jemez Historic Site where he educates the public about his culture.

The commemoration starts Saturday, Nov. 13:

  • 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — 200th anniversary visitation to Kozlowski’s Trading Post and Stagecoach Stop at Pecos National Historical Park (located along Highway 63 just south of the Pecos National Historical Park entrance)
  • 3 to 4:30 p.m. — free lecture: “American Indians on the Santa Fe Trail” by Dr. James Riding In, Pawnee; music by Marlon Magdalena, Jemez Pueblo Musician; Blessing & Land Acknowledgement by Thought Leader Regis Pecos of Cochiti Pueblo at the New Mexico Museum of Art, St. Francis Auditorium, Santa Fe
  • 6 to 8:30 p.m. — “Eating Up the Santa Fe Trail Dinner & Performance” with flute music by Marlon Magdalena, Jemez flute player; performance by Andy Hedges, storyteller & songster; Deb Haaland, Secretary of Interior (Invited Guest Speaker).

Meal reservations required: buffalo ($71) or trout ($59). At the La Fonda Hotel, Lumpkins Ballroom in Santa Fe.

On Sunday, Nov. 14:

  • 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. —  “La Llegada ~ The Arrival” with Governor Melagares (portrayed by Joey Chavez) who greets William Becknell (portrayed by Jeff Hengesbach and other re-enactors) at the Santa Fe Plaza in front of the Palace of the Governors.
  • 12 to 1 p.m. — Commemoration of the 1911 Placement of the Santa Fe Trail Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Marker on the Plaza with a reenactment of the event by former Territorial Governor Prince and his wife, Mary, who then served as the DAR Regent for New Mexico Territory, at Santa Fe Plaza.
  • 2 to 3:30 p.m. — NM Premiere of the film called “The Road to Santa Fe” by Prairie Hollow Productions to be shown at the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium in Santa Fe.

These series of events are being led by the Santa Fe-based End of the Trail Chapter (an affiliate of the Santa Fe Trail Association) whose name is derived from the original terminus of the trail, located at the Plaza of Santa Fe. The commemoration is being sponsored by the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New Mexico State Daughters of the American Revolution, the Santa Fe Trail Association, the New Mexico Bank & Trust, the New Mexico State Library, the New Mexico History Museum, and the Santa Clara Development Corp.

For those interested in reserving a meal during the Saturday evening Santa Fe Trail themed dinner, contact, [email protected].

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They will follow Covid-19 safety protocols (wearing of masks while inside and proof of vaccination for indoor events).

This article was posted by Cheryl Fallstead

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