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Onate and Villagra: 1598 New Mexico

April 3

This month’s presentation has been a collaboration between the Friends of History and Southwest Seminars (, a Santa Fe educational non-profit which offers weekly in-person lectures featuring distinguished scholars 50 Mondays a year for the past 26 years.  This nonprofit is the recipient of important historic and cultural preservation awards and a proud partner with Hotel Santa Fe, a Picuris Pueblo Enterprise.  Southwest Seminars is committed to sensitive cultural education and works with those who share the same commitment. 

The original prerecorded video lecture may be viewed for free, along with more than one hundred others by distinguished guest speakers by going to and creating an account, a password, and signing in for access at no charge.

Here is the link to the presentation:   


Dr. Thomas E. Chavez

Former Director, Palace of Governors, Museum of New Mexico

Former Executive Director, National Cultural Hispanic Center


Originally presented by Southwest Seminars on May 5, 2003, Tom’s talk discusses Captain Gaspar Pérez de Villagra and his narrative epic poem, Historia de La Nueva Mexico, which focuses on the early days of Juan de Onate’s 1598 expedition to colonize northern New Mexico, ‘making himself (Villagra) look great but his boss (Onate) looks greater.’ Published in 1610, the poem is particularly notable as the first known publication about America in Europe.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Chavez is the Former Director for the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico; former Executive Director for the  National Hispanic Cultural Center; and recipient of the Order of Isabella the Catholic from the Government of Spain. As well, Tom has authored over twelve books, three of which are published in translation in Spain. Among these publications are New Mexico Past and Present and Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift



April 3
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