In the Rearview

Looking back: 10, 25, 50 years ago – December 27

Rail Runner for Taos (not); objects returned to Taos Pueblo; Taos suicides increase

By Mary Beth Libbey
forum@taosnews.com
Posted 12/26/18

- 10 YEARS AGO - 'Rail Runner to Taos? Time will tell', By Andy Dennison, Dec. 31, 2008: Ten years ago state officials teased Taoseños with the idea that the then brand new light rail train between Belen and Santa Fe might someday run to Taos too.

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In the Rearview

Looking back: 10, 25, 50 years ago – December 27

Rail Runner for Taos (not); objects returned to Taos Pueblo; Taos suicides increase

Posted

- 10 YEARS AGO - 'Rail Runner to Taos? Time will tell', By Andy Dennison, Dec. 31, 2008

Ten years ago state officials teased Taoseños with the idea that the then brand new light rail train between Belen and Santa Fe might someday run to Taos too.

Lawrence Rael, executive director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments and who oversaw the rail system construction, showed up at The Taos News Dec. 30 along with other rail managers and state Rep. Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales to plant the seed that someday it might happen.

Gonzales even said he would work for legislation to fund a study of Santa Fe-to-Taos route. Reporter Dennison wrote, "Such an initial study would examine the feasibility of the project and leave the heavy lifting--and higher cost--of engineering and environmental studies to later, he said."

Dennison also quotes the Rail Runner Express manager Chris Blewett as noting the many geographical obstacles that such a project would face: the river, the mountains, the canyons. He notes that the Denver & Rio Grande Western Chile line ran from Española to Servilleta and through Tres Piedras to Alamosa, Colorado until the mid-1900s. Most of the alignment of that line has eroded away but some rights of way might be still owned by the state, Blewett said.

In any event, 10 years have passed, and we have the Blue Bus for $5 one way from the capital city to Taos. No trains in sight. Cost might have something to do with it. The Albuquerque-Santa Fe line cost $400 million and, while it is well-used, still has some loud critics.

- 25 YEARS AGO - ''After years of wrangling, area museum returns sacred objects', By Rick Romancito, Dec. 30, 1993

Taos Pueblo took receipt of several sacred objects that were in the Millicent Rogers Museum Collection after about seven years of negotiation.

Writer Romancito chronicles the Museum's on again-off again relationship with different pueblos, including Taos Pueblo back to the early 1980s. The museum's willingness to give things back seemed to depend on who was director. In the early 1980s, director Art Wolf repatriated several items to the Zuni pueblo on the request of the tribe's elders.

However, the Taos Pueblo items did not go home so easily even though at one point the governor of the pueblo, Mike Concha, was also an employee of the museum. In fact, it was in his museum work that Concha became aware that the institution had some of the pueblo's sacred objects, presumably sold to the museum by tribal members.

Concha started his quest to return 15 items to the tribe in 1989 when Patrick Houlihan was museum director. In 1992, Concha and current Gov. Jose Samora cited three acts of Congress in a letter to the museum asking for the return of about 20 items the tribe considered sacred.

Houlihan and the board said that while federal law requires federal museums to return such items, as a private institution, the Millicent Rogers did not have to do so. Its consensus was that if other institutions did so, it would follow.

In any event, on Dec. 28, 1993, 15 items were returned to Taos Pueblo by the museum in a "quiet ceremony," and the objects were presented to the Taos Pueblo Tribal Council.

As Romancito explains, "Taos Pueblo is considered one of the most traditional of the 19 New Mexico Indian Pueblos. Its native religion, customs and Tiwa language are considered private and not to be shared with outsiders."

- 50 YEARS AGO - 'Seminar seeks answers: Taos suicides on increase', By Jim KubieDec. 27, 1968

That year Jim Kubie reports that "more than 10 (perhaps as many as 20) tried to take their own lives. Two of them (ended in death)."

Dr. James Hancock, director of the New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, told a group of nearly two dozen educators, social workers and law enforcement officials: "When a person says he is going to kill himself, we must understand he is really trying to say: 'Help me'!" The group had gathered in Taos the previous Thursday (Dec. 20) to "discuss the problem and seek to find ways to relieve it."

One focus of the gathering was teenage suicides, Kubie wrote, although his article does not chronicle any recent incidents involving teenagers. However, Alfonso Median, a counselor from Dulce, said he "feels that there are potentially as many as 235 teenagers in his area with suicidal tendencies."

Dr. Hancock said: "Most teenagers contemplating suicide don't understand the finality of death; it is a way of getting love and attention they are afraid of losing."

Dr. Hancock and other staff members from the state hospital said that "from their experience, mental disturbances in children could be traced to the inability of children to receive the right kind of 'caring' from parents."

Half a century later, the efforts to prevent people from taking their own lives continues, with renewed efforts by law enforcement, counselors, schools and teen support groups.

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