Esther Martinez & Language

Honoring traditions… honoring storytellers!


Many years ago, I nominated Santa Fe santero Charlie Carrillo for a NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award and he won. It was a great honor for Charlie and we went to Washington D.C. to celebrate for the week. In the same “class” was San Juan Pueblo storyteller and linguist, Esther Martinez.

We got to know Esther and her grandson, Matt, very well. It isn’t often that two noted individuals are honored from the same state. There are only about five to nine people in each “class” each year. We met with congress-people and watched the celebrated receive their medals in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress. It was special.

On the way home Esther was killed by a drunk driver in Española. She was 94. We then, went to her funeral at San Juan Pueblo. It was unbelievable.

Esther or P’oe Tsawa (Blue Water) was hailed as a national treasure for writing the
San Juan Pueblo Tewa Dictionary. You can read about Esther in the book, My Life in San Juan Pueblo. Congress passed the Esther Martinez Act in 2006, providing for the revitalization of Native American languages.

Native American languages can not be allowed to die. Esther Martinez thought they were important to preserve and I do too.

Read about Esther in the current
The Magazine – free around town and in Santa Fe. Esther was one of New Mexico’s greats!

Barbe Awalt




FRANCELLE ALEXANDER ("Albuquerque's North Valley")
Feb 15: Bookworks, Rio Grande Blvd, 6pm
Feb 17: Los Ranchos Village Hall, 11am to 1pm
Feb 18: Treasure House Books, Old Town Plaza, 1pm
Mar 13: North Valley Senior Center, 10a to 12 noon, Albuquerque
May 5: Albuquerque's North Valley, Hispanic Genealogy Research Center, 10:30am at National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque

Feb 17: Capt Maxilliano Luna at Los Lunas Museum, 2pm, Los Lunas, NM

Feb 17: “Green Burial Options in New Mexico,” Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, 2901 Candelaria Road NW, Albuquerque 2pm
Mar 9-11: The Newly-Dead Game® and the documentary “Grandpa’s in the TUFF Shed,”
Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, Colorado

Mar 3: Historic Route 66, National Hispanic Cultural Center, 10:30am, Albuquerque

ROSS VAN DUSEN ("What Makes the Lightning?", "How the Crocka Dog Came to Be"; and "Lyle Got Stuck in a Tree")

Feb 22: Special Assembly on How the Crocka Dog Came to Be at Piñon Elementary School White Rock, NM
Apr 28: Battle of the Books at Los Lunas Schools, 8am-1pm
Jun 2: Book signing at Treasure House Books, 2012 South Plaza, Albuquerque Old Town