World Facts

Where Did New Mexico Get Its Name From?

Interestingly, New Mexico was named before the country of Mexico.

New Mexico is one of the states in the southwestern region of the US. It is the fifth largest state with a total area of 121,590 square miles and the fifth less densely populated states with a total population of two million people. It is comparatively a poor state ranking among the lowest of the states with lowest per capital income. New Mexico’s economy is dependent agriculture, mining, retail trade, and oil production. Poverty is the main economic hindrance in the country that relies mainly on for federal expenditure on temporary programs.

History of New Mexico

The early settlers of New Mexico were Native Americans who cultivated and hunted on the land 10,000 years before the arrival of European explorers. Early agriculturalists comprised of the Pueblo Indians who had adopted advanced irrigation systems and whose remains are still found in various parts of the state such as Albuquerque. In the 15th century, aggressive nomads comprising of the Navajo and Apache groups arrived from the north settling in the region and lived harmoniously with the Native American settlers. In the 16th century, word reached Europe about the existence of the legendary cities of splendor and riches through Álvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who stranded off Florida in 1528 after a shipwreck and roamed through the lands before being rescued in 1536.

In 1540, European and Spanish explorers set to discover the lands with the hope of annexing the region and establishing their dominance. On their first attempt, they did not succeed in finding the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. After several decades of unsuccessful exploration by friars and soldiers, Juan de Onate of New Spain (present-day Mexico), was awarded treaties for colonization and in 1595 he established a colony pronouncing Santa Fe as the official capital of the Nuevo México colony in 1610. For the next centuries, missionaries attempted to change the Indian culture and religion prompting the rise of the Pueblo Rebellion that drove Europeans out of the region leaving it to the Spanish.

The Naming of New Mexico

New Mexico had become part of the Spanish Kingdom in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. The Spanish settlers named the lands Nuevo México (New Mexico) after the Aztec Valley of the Rio Grande River in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, New Mexico is not part of Mexico. In fact, New Mexico was established and named 223 years before the naming of Mexico in 1821. New Mexico’s Spanish origin made cultural integration with Mexico difficult prompting the Chimayo rebellion against the Mexican governor who had invaded the lands at the time.

New Mexico was admitted as the 47th state of the US in 1912 after breaking from being a province in Mexico. In 1924, the Congress passed a law that granted Native Americans living in America citizenship and the right to vote in federal and state elections. However, Native Americans in New Mexico could not enjoy the rights since their constitution stated that Indians who did not pay taxes to not enjoy the same rights. The ban was later lifted after military veterans from New Mexico who had defended America during the First and Second World War petitioned for their constitutional rights as American citizens.

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