Spanish-Speaking And Proud

Up in the hills of New Mexico, in Santa Fe and Taos and the towns around them, are native-born U.S. citizens whose ancestors settled there in the 1500s. And those people speak Spanish.

Add in the Native Americans whose ancestors arrived centuries earlier, and you get a picture of American heritage that doesn’t involve a whole lot of Puritans and a whole lot of English. It would be a good place for the English-first bigots who bristle at a simple buenos dias to have a look around and educate themselves, but apparently it wasn’t a good place for Larry Whitten to buy a hotel.

According to the Associated Press, Whitten bought an ailing hotel in Taos and told hotel workers not to speak Spanish in front of him. And then he ordered some of them to Anglicize their names. Marcos had to be called Mark, etc.

I can’t imagine someone telling me that I had to call myself Joan White because Jeanne Leblanc sounds too French. But that’s essentially what Whitten told his employees.

Perhaps that approach works in Texas, where Whitten is from. But it didn’t work in northern New Mexico, where proud, Spanish-speaking Americans of Hispanic heritage are in the majority.

San Francisco de Asis Church, Taos, N.M.

San Francisco de Asis Church, Taos, N.M.


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