Genizaro is topic of next Lifeways Lecture


By Cheryl Chavez-Ruybal with biography provided by Gregorio Gonzales

Gregorio Gonzales

Try to find the term "Genízaro" in the dictionary and you will probably have a difficult time. That is because the experiences of a Genízaro have rarely been addressed in our modern times and many are unaware of what the term Genízaro refers to. A Genízaro is a person of Native American descent who was captured and sold into slavery to serve in the Spanish households of New Mexico; a practice that began in the early 1600's. The preceding definition is a succinct version of what it really means to be a Genízaro.

"Where do I belong? Which path do I walk? What cultural identity do I pass on?" Those are only a few of the many questions individuals of Genízaro descent grapple with. Theirs is an experience of walking simultaneously in two cultural worlds and learning to navigate the unknown landscapes of paths they did not choose for themselves. Gregorio Gonzales, his father, his grandfather, and their family know this challenge all too well. Adding to the complexity of Gregorio's experience, is a life which embraces the future while maintaining a connection to a history and a heritage that are bonded in time.


Gregorio Gonzales (Genízaro) is a husband, father, and Ph.D. Candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology and Borderlands Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin. Graduating from The University of New Mexico in 2012 with his master's degree (with Distinction) in Latin American Studies, and earning his B.A. degree (with Honors) from New Mexico State University in 2010, Gregorio's dissertation work examines local, regional, and national politics of racialization, representation, and subject formation in northern New Mexico through the lens of Genízaro identity within Genízaro communities in the Taos and Chama valleys--including his own. In addition to prestigious fellowships with the Smithsonian Institution and The University of Texas at Austin, recently Gregorio has been named the 2016-2017 Katrin H. Lamon Resident Scholar at the School for Advanced Research, and has been selected as a 2016 Fellow with the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry at The New School for Social Research in New York. Outside of academia, Gregorio was recently selected to join the 2016-2017 cohort of the AIO (Americans for Indian Opportunity) Ambassadors Program, a community capacity-building, leadership development effort designed to help early to mid-career Native American professionals strengthen, within a cultural context, their ability to improve the quality of life, well-being and growth of their communities and to interact with Indigenous peoples worldwide.

Adams State University will host this offering of the Spring 2016 Lifeways of the San Luis Valley Lecture series from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, in McDaniel Hall, room 101. An audience question and answer session will take place in the last fifteen minutes of the presentation. This lecture is free and open to the public; as well as, all ASU students, faculty, and staff. Parking is located east of McDaniel Hall. Adams State University parking lots do not require permits after 5 p.m. The Spring 2016 Lifeways of the San Luis Valley lecture series is sponsored by the Community for Inclusive Excellence, Leadership & Opportunity (CIELO) at ASU. We are thankful to CIELO for their support and generosity. Please plan to attend and embrace the opportunity to hear the story a young man whose resolve to give a voice to his people is both inspiring and moving.