The Journey Home

By: Jeremy J. 

For thousands of travelers, Santa Fe, New Mexico was the end of the line after months of a treacherous and sometimes deadly journey, yet to them, it offered hope and a start of a new home.  

The Santa Fe Trail was mainly established as a commercial transportation route, but soon became a main wagon trail thoroughfare for Americans traveling from Missouri, in search of owning large parcels of land and a freedom they could not find at home.  According to Wikipedia, “Travelers faced many hardships along the Santa Fe Trail. The trail was a challenging 900 miles of arid plains, desert, and mountains. The natural climate was and is continental: very hot and dry summers, coupled with long and bitterly cold winters. Freshwater was scarce, and the high steppe-like plains are nearly treeless.

Of course before the influx of people from the east, Indigenous Americans lived in this region for hundreds of years and they still flourish there to this day.  The city itself is full of their art and culture and I was lucky enough to meet one when I visited Santa Fe last weekend. I met this individual at the Palace of The Governors, located across from the main plaza, where he was with a group of 10-15 sidewalk artists who were selling their many arts and crafts.  I was immediately drawn to his paintings, especially a small one that depicted a horse running on the plains. He soon was explaining to me in great detail how he painted this horse and what it meant to him and his people. We started chatting further and he told me the story of how he never was one-hundred percent sure if he was apart of the Navajo tribe, but always identified with them.  When he arrived in Santa Fe, NM in the late 1990’s, he immediately felt at home, but didn’t exactly know why. He went on by explaining all the hardships he had endured with his personal life and his relationship with the Navajo nation. He finally decided to take a DNA test through Ancestry.com where he not only discovered that he was 89.9% Native American, but that he had ties to that exact region of Santa Fe through a grandparent and many ancestors before him.  He had found his ancestral home and made it his current one and though his journey is not over, it certainly has come full circle.