Educate, Inspire, Empower
New Mexico Historic Women Marker Program
Our history: From an idea to a statewide program
In 2006, with the support from New Mexico’s Governor and State Legislature, the New Mexico Historic Women Marker Initiative secured funding to erect roadside markers celebrating women whose actions and influence helped shape the state’s history in ways that continue to impact our culture today. In partnership with the Department of Transportation and Department of Cultural Affairs, and through a statewide nomination process that drew responses from pueblos, tribes, the Navajo Nation, and every county in New Mexico, Historic Women markers began appearing in 2007 and now number nearly 100. Representing the long, multicultural history of our state, the markers highlight the remarkable courage, resilience, and strength of public figures and ordinary women who faced extraordinary challenges—and changed the course of history.
While the markers spotlight renowned women such as artist Georgia O’Keeffe, suffrage leader Nina Otero-Warren, and San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez, they also honor and credit lesser-known “unsung heroes” who contributed immensely to the arts, education, business, government, science, military, healthcare, and the growth and preservation of our culture and communities.
Representing the diverse, multicultural heritage of New Mexico, the markers celebrate women such as Lozen, an Apache warrior and medicine woman who fought by the side of Geronimo; Sally Rooke, a telephone switchboard operator who died at her post while warning others about the 1908 Dry Cimarrón Flood; and the Ladies Auxiliary of Local 890, who picketed for striking miners who were forbidden from doing so, inspiring the documentary Salt of the Earth. While the markers serve as a physical reminder of past accomplishments, the larger goal is to inspire future generations by preserving and widely sharing the stories of these remarkable women.
The initiative, now known as the New Mexico Historic Women Marker Program, received additional funding in 2022 from New Mexico’s Governor and State Legislature for public outreach, K-12 curriculum development, digital archives, improved website capabilities, permanent and traveling exhibitions, and a speakers bureau. As the program grows, additional strategies will celebrate the exceptional women who continue to help make New Mexico the Land of Enchantment.
The result of nearly two decades of effort and commitment, the New Mexico Historic Women Marker Program now celebrates the lives and accomplishments of more than 100 women who have contributed to New Mexico’s fascinating history and unique culture. Enjoy discovering the history of New Mexico through the lives of these amazing women.
“Into the Future – Legacy” by Natasha Lucero Rajaram
October 13, 2017
Some say that the meaning of legacy is what your relatives have done in the past. Others may claim that legacy is who they are meant to be. I believe it is more of a quest that your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and your descendants have given to you to achieve.
This quest is a directive to be more than they were, to be who you want to be, and to be the best you can be. Think about it this way, your grandparents had your parents and gave them the gift of life and passed on their legacy.
The gift of life is an incredible phenomenon. It is gifting your child a chance to change the world, to be part of something bigger or, once again, to follow their dreams.
To quote my beloved grandma, “Legacy is the footprint you leave in life, not the shoes that were given to you.” What this means is that instead of doing something that someone else has done, create something new and enthralling. Do something big that has never been done before. And make sure that after all the years your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have devoted to you—you are proud of yourself. Make sure that you pass on YOUR legacy and make sure it sticks. Make sure your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren know your story and make sure that they make theirs, too.
“Kudos to you for spearheading this tremendous NM Historic Women Marker Initiative. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, I have been stopping at rest stops and markers whenever I can to see their condition and purpose. When stopping at La Bajada Rest Stop last week, I discovered the circle of markers commemorating NM women that had not previously been there (it’s been a while since I stopped there)! Totally inspiring!”
Representative Joy Garratt