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Digital Memories Repository Moves Forward in New Mexico

With a $970,000 grant to New Mexico Highlands University, the project will continue its memory-gathering effort and community-based archive for Indo-Hispano communities in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

(TNS) — Preserving cultural heritage.

It's the driving force behind the Manitos Community Memory Project.

With a $970,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to New Mexico Highlands University, the project will continue its memory-gathering effort and community-based archive.

The digital archive will be an online repository that is accessible and usable across Indo-Hispano communities in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

The archive will be developed with a growing number of individual and organizational partners from rural villages that include Abiquiú, Chimayó, Villanueva and Questa, as well as urban centers such as AlbuquerqueSanta FeDenver and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez, project director, said that in spite of the losses incurred by these communities, a rich history and culture endures.

"As we continue to develop this archive, tracing both the trauma and resilience that has defined these communities and revealing the depth and breadth of 'Manito' history and experience, we are confident that it provides a generative well for educators, cultural workers, journalists, academic researchers, and creative practitioners to draw upon," Rael-Gálvez said.

Rael-Gálvez said the Manitos Project addresses the losses suffered by these villages as a result of scholars, cultural institutions and government programs that have engaged in over a century of extractive practices, removing artifacts, documents and knowledge without reciprocal benefit.

The project aims to develop strategies for restoring what has been lost by collecting, digitizing and preserving historical records, photographs and oral histories; documenting and revitalizing traditional practices; and exploring a wide array of topics, such as ancestry, migration, archaeology, architecture and living traditions. It will also test the potential to deepen a sense of social and cultural identity through new technologies such as digital mapping, data visualization and virtual reality.

"NMHU Media Arts is proud to be supporting this important university-community partnership," said professor  Miriam LangerNMHU Department of Media Arts & Technology.

The project blog is at, and the digital archive is scheduled to launch by midyear.

(c)2021 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.