You have entered the land of the Rio Bravo del Norte, the northernmost outpost of sixteenth century Spain. To the Spanish people, the San Luis Valley was a wild and unexploited place known only to the Native people. Amidst the beauty and towering peaks of the valley, the area became the center of conflict and wars born of a clash of cultures.
"We arrived in the San Luis Valley with our religion and culture looking for fertile ground to raise our families. We laid out our plazas, shared common ground, and relied on each other to survive in an unknown place.
"We did not understand the Native beliefs and soon found ourselves in conflict with the Native people. We fought great wars to protect our Spanish communities. Distance cut off our colonies from our homeland.
"We were alone on the frontier.
"Over time, we wove a culture that was closely tied to our religion and to nature making the San Luis Valley a unique culture of its own."
The People of the San Luis Valley
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Today wood carvings of Santos and Bultos (religious figures) still express our spiritual life.
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The Rio Bravo del Norte, or Rio Grande, wanders 1,900 miles from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico. Spanish conquistadors ventured into the San Luis Valley along the Rio Grande corridor from the south.
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Evidence of our unique religious beliefs are still found around the valley.
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Our "fiestas" or celebrations and "Dias de Santo", or holy days, are still celebrated in our Culebra villages.
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The Rio Grande weaving tradition found in the San Luis Valley.