NM History

New Mexico’s unique blend of distinctly Native American, Hispanic/Latino, and white/Anglo culture and language owes to its history, much of it relatively recent.

Anasazi site in New Mexico

Anasazi site in New Mexico

Anasazi site in Northern New Mexico

Pre-Columbian New Mexico was home to various Indian tribes including Mogollon, Apache, and Navajo. Expeditions from New Spain (Mexico) led by Juan de Oñate followed the Rio Grande northward, leading to the settlement of New Mexico’s first Spanish colony, San Juan, and the formation of Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road of the Interior) and later The Santa Fe Trail. Violent disputes over settlement and passage arose between the Spanish the Apaches.

Upon its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico claimed the New Mexican territories as their own province. Dispute arose in 1841 when increasing numbers of Texans began settling the area, claiming it as their own. The resulting Mexican-American War ended in 1848 with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which granted most of New Mexico to the United States. The Gadsden Purchase of 1853 further enlarged United States territories in both New Mexico and Arizona.

  • Statehood: 47th state, 1912
  • Capital: Santa Fe
  • Earliest colony: San Juan, 1598