NMSU professor collaborates on book about Tortugas Pueblo traditions

December 3, 2016


For more than a century, Tortugas Pueblo has hosted its vibrant Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe each Dec. 10-12, when Roman Catholic and Native American rituals meld for a three-day event devoted to the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas.

Head and shoulders of a woman
NMSU journalism college professor Pamela Porter collaborated with Los Indigenes de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe to produce “Tortugas at 100: Steps in Time & Grace.” (Courtesy Photo) 

 Book cover shows dancers wearing costumes A book signing for “Tortugas at 100: Steps in Time and Grace” will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4 at La Escuelita, located at the intersection of Tigua and Guadalupe. (Courtesy Photo)

This year, the Pueblo will also celebrate a book that details its history, enriched with personal stories and photography: “Tortugas at 100: Steps in Time & Grace.” The book recognizes current participants and remembers the “antepasados,” the ancestors who built the foundation for the fiesta and instilled a reverence for traditions carried out the entire year. A collaborative effort by Los Indigenes de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the organization created in 1914 to protect Native American traditions, and NMSU journalism college professor Pamela Porter, the 150-page book contains 225 black-and-white photographs, several contributed by Pueblo member Jose Luis Nevarez

“It has never been my intention to write about the people of Tortugas, but with them,” said Porter, who is both writer and photographer. After connecting with a few tribal elders years ago, she sought permission to document the Pueblo’s complex heritage, with a book in mind. A committee of Pueblo members met regularly with Porter in an effort to combine images and text that reflect Tortugas at this point in time.

“For me this process was truly inspiring. Looking through all the photos, I realized what our Pueblo has accomplished throughout the years,” said Arianna Fierro, current president for Los Indigenes de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. “In a time of constant change, it is reassuring to know that our Pueblo continues to uphold the customs and traditions that our elders and ancestors have entrusted us with. Every year I look forward to sharing these sacred traditions with our children and our community, and this book will give others an opportunity to see just how special Tortugas Pueblo is.”

“For some, this book will provide a glimpse of who we are, what we do and what we believe in,” wrote Dominic Fierro, 2012-2015 president of the Pueblo’s organization, in the book’s introduction. “For others, it will bring back memories of a time long forgotten, while for others it provides an opportunity to show their family, friends and acquaintances a place where they may have visited and were a part of our annual three-day December fiesta.”

“Tortugas at 100” is also available from the Pueblo. A book signing is scheduled at 3 p.m. on. Sunday, Dec. 4 at La Escuelita, which is located at the intersection of Tigua and Guadalupe. Signs will be posted to help visitors find it.

The book is also offered on amazon.com (type in Tortugas at 100) or follow https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tortugas+at+100. The publisher provides a link on enduringjourneypress.com as well.

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