The People's History of El Norte
We like to think that every historical account is documented and well preserved; some history appears as merely abbreviated text in history books; and not all noteworthy events make it to the pages of those books. For every documented historical event there are countless others rememberd only in personal journals, kept locked in family archives, or told in oral narratives. Two sides and more perceptions exist for every event in history; and sometimes history evokes emotions which can then serve as a catalyst for change; in that catalyst "The People's History of El Norte" was created.
The eleven panel mural is a chronological and colorfully painted tribute to historical events deemed important (by a public survey) and in some cases omitted from history books. It was painted by some 300 culturally diverse students under the direction of Rock Ulibarri, historian, educator and community leader and by Casa de Cultura, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and maintain the cultural authenticity of the community.
The mural was inspire by the grassroots influence of Howard Zinn, historian and activist who stirred controversy by questions textbook accounts of history. While brightly colored, the person and depictions embedded in the mural symbolize historical social and land struggles, teach connection to local heritage, and are meant to be thought provoking in terms of creating awareness of local and culturally significant historic events. Additionally, the mural expresses the artist's collective hope for the future of El Norte (the North).
The mural is a call to all who see it to look further than traditional history books and learn about land lost, native influence, injustice and justice, and was by the Herrera brothers and Las Gorras Blancas, the White Caps who organized night rides to fight the injustice of hunger and poverty brought by those who the group felt had exploited them and the barbed wire fences they erected.