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Archive for the ‘New Mexico’ Category

Mabel_Dodge_Luhan_House_Taos_New_Mexico_46760

Taos, N.M.

Mabel Dodge Luhan home
240 Morada Lane

Born to a wealthy family, Mabel Ganson (1879-1962) made a name for herself in early 20th-century New York as Mabel Dodge, a patron of the arts and the host of a weekly salon at her apartment. She married four times and enjoyed numerous heterosexual affairs, but her autobiography, Intimate Memories (1932), also chronicles her early passions for women.

Dodge first saw New Mexico on a trip in 1916. She fell in love with the area, moving there in the 1920s and marrying Tony Luhan, a Pueblo Indian. They settled in this adobe home in Taos, which at that time was a dusty village with few white inhabitants. She helped promote an artists’ colony in the town, introducing artists and writers such as Georgia O’Keeffe and D.H. Lawrence to the area. The Luhans’ home is now an inn and conference center.

In 1925, while visiting Santa Fe, Willa Cather received an invitation to call on the Luhans. Taken with the beauty of the region and determined to write a novel set there, Cather accepted the offer, and she and her partner, Edith Lewis, spent two weeks with the Luhans. They stayed in the “Pink House,” which had been decorated with a drawing of a phoenix by its previous resident, D.H. Lawrence. Tony Luhan graciously acted as tour guidem driving Cather and Lewis throughout the countryside and showing them sites that would later be incorporated into Cather’s New Mexico novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

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We’wha

wewha.jpg

Zuni, N.M.

Zuni Pueblo
1203B State Highway 53 (off U.S. 40)

On the border of New Mexico and Arizona is the Pueblo of Zuni, which was once home to one of the most famous two-spirited people, We’wha (1849-1896). Today, the Zuni still relate stories about We’wha, an accomplished weaver and potter who was one of the first Zuni to sell wares for cash. Anthropologist Mathilda Coxe Stevenson described We’wha as “the strongest character and the most intelligent of the Zuni tribe.” In 1886, We’wha spent six months in Washington as Stevenson’s guest, becoming the hit of the capital’s social scene and being generally accepted as an “Indian princess.”

In Zuni culture, We’wha was a lhamana, an individual who combined male and female work and social roles and often dressed in women’s clothing. (Among whites, such individuals were commonly known as berdaches, a French colonialist word meaning “slave boy.”) A lhamana was neither exclusively female or male; of We’wha, they said, “She is a man.” Gay historians disagree about whether or not the lhamana role was exalted or lowly. Some contend that lhamana were holy people – priests and artists – while others say their role was one of humiliation and passivity.

As a child, We’wha lost both parents and was adopted into the family of an aunt. In many photographs at the Smithsonian Institution, We’wha can be seen weaving in front of the family dwelling, which was located in the southeast corner of the Zuni pueblo. The pueblo is open to “respectful guests” every day until dusk. (For more info, visit http://www.experiencezuni.org/home.html.)

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