Manitos -- the word for Hispanic New Mexicans -- have a rich but untold history in Wyoming. That’s why a team of researchers from Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico created the exhibit “Following the Manito Trail.” Using oral history, artifacts and photography the project documents Manitos’ influence on the West.
The culmination of their first two years of work — specifically looking at Wyoming — is now on view at the American Heritage Center on the University of Wyoming campus.
Adam Herrera, the project’s producer and photographer, said starting in the early 1900s up until the 1960s there was a steady migration of Manitos into Wyoming, and he said their contributions to the region have been overlooked.
“And so we felt that it was important that they are getting recognition for all of their contributions,” Herrera said. “Whether they are art contributions, whether they are musical contributions, whether they are industrial or political contributions, we want to make sure they are being recognized.”
Herrera said one of his favorite discoveries are the arborglyphs in the Sierra Madre Mountains created by Manito sheep herders in the early 1900s. “They would carve on aspen trees to mark their way. These aspens actually retain those carvings to this day,” said Herrera. “And so you can still go up into the forest and you’ll find original carvings with dates and names and sometimes beautiful drawings.”
A panel discussion with Herrera and the academics who collaborated on the project will take place Friday at 5 pm, followed by an opening reception.