Go Deeper: Read Diego Medina’s pendant poems.
There is the strata of the earth and the strata of time. And across these dimensions, countless feet pass—all travelers of a sort, some forcibly removed from ancestral lands and others following well-used trade routes. In long has the light wandered to lay itself upon you, Diego Medin —poet, artist and tribal historic preservation officer for the Piro-Manso-Tiwa tribe—evokes all of these histories as they unfold along El Camino Real, the Spanish Royal Road, the Rabbit Run Trail, that interlinked Mexico City and Santa Fe. Before that, it was one of the most significant ancestral routes of exchange and migration.
The mural contracts and expands time, paying homage to all relatives who have sojourned this and other routes, including those who once exchanged salt, shells, and chocolate across vast distances before European contact. It also conjures another, even deeper, past—the earliest recorded presence of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Fossilized footprints from over 23,000 years ago were found in the Tularosa Basin at White Sands National Park, along with ancient grass seeds, marking yet another history of travel. The artist, who has collaborated with the National Park Service on the site, believes the profound layers of ancestral presence and connection to the current moment have gone untold in writings about the discovery.
Finally, long has the light wandered to lay itself upon you thrusts viewers into yet another timescape, the exodus of the Tiwa and Piro peoples southward after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. These routes, the artist calls, the “trails beneath the trail, the roads beneath the road.” The overlapping timelines, he says, “are part of an interbeing of spiritual identity and mystical relationship to place.”
Diego Medina is an artist, poet, and educator from Las Cruces, New Mexico. His family is one of the original families from the historic Mesquite district, the Pueblo for the Piro-Manso-Tiwa tribe. Diego is a member of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa tribe and also has Irish ancestry, Raramuri ancestry, Genizaro ancestry, and Black ancestry. As an educator, he has worked both as a public school teacher and as a museum educator. Diego currently resides in Santa Fe and continues to do youth educational programming, particularly for Native and incarcerated youth. Diego was a 2020-2021 Story Maps Fellow at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Instagram@daydreamboy