22 July 2015

French in Albuquerque

We're finding that the French (and francophones in general) have quite a presence in New Mexico.

We recently went to a lecture by a French New Mexican about that very thing - the presenter has been collecting family stories, pictures, and documents and adding these to histories and mysteries to form an interesting view into the past. He was an amusing and entertaining lecturer. The crowd especially smiled when he said things like "so you see, the first European in New Mexico was French!" He was referring to the Franciscan friar Marcos de Niza (from Nice) that came here on the search for the Seven Cities of Gold in the early 1500's.

In the 1800's, nearly all the trappers, and most of the priests were French.

At one time, the French flag flew over New Mexico. The North Eastern quadrant was part of the Louisiana Territory, and so it was French before it became part of the USA.

Albuquerque is a relatively new city; much of the current metro area was part of a land grant owned by Elena Gallegos (and her French husband).

Now, Albuquerque has several active French groups. We just went to our first "chat" with a Meet-up group on Sunday. I attended a lecture at UNM about the Southwestern area (mainly the historic Langue d'Oc, or modern Languedoc) of France. We celebrated Quatorze Juillet (aka Bastille Day) a week ago at a party put on by the local Alliance fran├žaise. And! I start two French classes this week!

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For more French family histories go to this website: NewMexicoFrenchHistory.com

~~~~ UPDATE January 2016
See this article in the ABQ Journal on the same topoc:
http://www.abqjournal.com/706544/news/the-french-a-forgotten-part-of-nms-cultural-stew.html

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