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USA, Spain: The Threads of Memory

September 29, 2010

Every American knows but normally chooses to ignore the fact that the Spanish arrived first in North America, explored vast portions of the continent and created the first permanent settlement in what is now the United States.

A traveling exhibit, El Hilo de la Memoria (The Threads of Memory), will tour the American Southwest beginning October 16th in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The treasures that will be on display have been released from the New World archives in Sevilla, Spain and this exhibit marks the first time most of the documents have left that country.  In value and significance they are analogous to New World history as the Dead Sea Scrolls are to the Middle East.  Included are:

–          Illustrations and Comments by Juan de Ponce de León upon discovering the “Island” of Florida

–          A map from 1519 of the Gulf of Mexico.

–          A map of the Mississippi River done in 1699

–          Exploration journals from sailors and missionaries

–          A Great Plains Bison drawing from the 16th Century

–          Friendship treaties signed with Indian nations such as the Cherokee, Chikasaw, Chakta and Talapuche.

The first Spanish explorers, for all their faults, were a redoubtable bunch.  Men like Cabeza de Vaca, who trekked for years across North America with a couple of companions after being stranded in Florida in the early 16th century, make our some of our legendary English frontiersmen seem like dandies and fops in comparison.

New Mexico History Museum

Santa Fe (USA)

October 16, 2010 – January 9, 2011

El Paso Museum of History

El Paso (USA)

January 22 – April 24, 2011

THNOC, The Historic New Orleans Collection

New Orleans (USA)

May 10 – July 10, 2011

Spanish mission ruins, New Mexico

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