Following the Manito Trail
Following the Manito Trail is an ongoing interdisciplinary ethnographic project that documents Hispanic New Mexican, or Manito, migration from New Mexico to different parts of the United States during the last century.
Looking at the many major migration corridors for Manito families, this project focuses on the driving factors for Manito migration and the exploration of notions of querencia, or how one establishes a sense of self and community through place. The migration of people from northern New Mexico is an important history in the diaspora of northern nuevomexicano culture. It remains, however, an undocumented account.
The western states’ rich and broad historical legacy has been impacted through the contributions of this cultural group of people. Who were these people and how did their language, foods, spiritual and religious traditions, and social customs survive outside of their cultural environment?
Following the Manito Trail will document the stories and memories reflecting a people’s uprooting of themselves and their families in search of work and opportunity. The testimonials will come directly from persons who experienced the migration or whose ancestors have experienced the migration. The project also will address issues of cultural identity and the preservation of cultural traditions through dialogues and discussions with Manito families who originated in New Mexico.
In 1986, fed up with the standard of living they had been forced to endure for decades, the Manito community of the South Barrio in Riverton, Wyoming, took it upon themselves to pave their own streets.
The Sierra Madre mountain range in Southeast Wyoming has long served as the grazing grounds for cattle and sheep ranchers, and graffiti left behind by Manito sheep herders at the turn of the 20th century can still be found today. These tree carvings, or arborglyphs, open a window into the solitary lives of these forgotten laborers.
Singer Will Flagg of Laramie, Wyoming, pays homage to his heritage with his original music, Wyoming Snow. Wyoming Snow tells the story of how his family migrated from New Mexico to Wyoming and the hardships they faced along the way.
All Images ©Adam P. Herrera
An Experience To Remember
On September 22, 2017, early findings from the state of Wyoming were presented in an interactive exhibit at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, Wyo. The exhibition focused on Manito migration into Wyoming and examined the many socio-cultural facets that have allowed Manito culture to endure beyond geographic restraints. The exhibit contextualized the many aspects of Wyoming life and culture that Manitos have shaped, contributed to, and influenced.
Co-curated by Adam Herrera and Irlanda Jacinto, the Manito Trail exhibit consisted of a collection of multimedia oral histories, historical and contemporary still photographs, a large three-dimensional mural, designed by Adam Herrera, and cultural artifacts that document, for the first time, the many contributions that Manito’s have had on the Western United States and Wyoming in particular.
Adam explaining the Manito Trail exhibition to actor and Latino art advocate and collector Cheech Marin.
When designing the mural, I wanted to create a dynamic presentation that was representative of the Manito contribution to their communities. Since the medium, still photography, is inherently two-dimensional, I didn't want the final art to simply be one single banner draped across the wall. I decided to reinforce the theme of "querencia", to represent the notion that many individuals contribute to the building blocks of community.
Using the images in the mural as building blocks, I extruded several of the images at varying depths, creating a brick-like 'foundation' for the final piece. The base image was also given depth using canvas wraps, then divided into five panels. The extruded images were then hung onto the surface of the base panels and overhead gallery lighting was used to help emphasize the brick-like effect, casting minor shadows across the surface of the piece. -AP