Narrative-New Mexico

“She lived in a small town, Magdalena, New Mexico, where there wasn’t much going on. There was a Navajo reservation not far from there, and she and her friends used to go there. They had a strange but lucrative experience. The Native American Navajo men would pay women to dance with them. This was probably in the 1940’s, when my mom was in her early 20’s. She and her friends would be paid 10 cents a dance, and I believe that it was traditional native dancing around the fire. They always had fun, and left with lots of dimes!”

            Jennifer Mizban is a homemaker who was born in New Mexico and moved to California where she lives today. She told me this story about her mother while remembering her past. She remembered this narrative her mother provided that outlined a tradition in which natives and non-natives to New Mexico interacted with each other. The natives had modified their tradition to facilitate this interaction.

            This is an example of hybridization of cultures. The non-natives learned the natives’ dance, while the natives used dimes to dance with the non-natives, who surely infused the new dance style with their own flavor. In this case, a new tradition was made.