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Know the West

Tourism can be self-righteous

  Dear HCN,

After reading the Geof Koss story, "Hikers stumble into an old dispute" (HCN, 5/22/00: Hikers stumble into an old dispute), I am reminded that any form of tourism on New Mexico land grants, or in traditional Hispano lands of southwestern and south central Colorado, must not merely purport to "respect" Native American and Hispano rights, but ought to promote local people's historical rights and heritage.

When my parents purchased a motel in Colorado Springs in 1959, they were aware that after the 1848 Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty, native Mexican and indigenous lands were broken up and sold by Anglo-controlled entities like the Santa Fe Ring. Though tourism to the Southwest is the latest shape of colonization, the tourism growth my parents witnessed in the 1960s and "70s was mildly offensive compared to the current wave of industrial-strength recreation being pushed through with an attitude of self-righteousness and entitlement. As post-1848 newcomers to the area, Anglo tourists, like the Continental Divide Trail Society, often act with a Manifest Destiny manner of acquisitiveness.

I firmly support Hispano people and the Rio Arriba county commissioners in their ongoing fight for land-grant rights against any form of muscular tourism that acts like the West is their playground. In case the message isn't clear: Hispanos and Nuevomexicanos are our neighbors; let us Anglo-Americans be good neighbors.

Tamara M. Teale
Colorado Springs, Colorado