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News 2015

'Journey Through Our Heritage' includes Valley

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 14th, 2015

'Journey Through Our Heritage' includes Valley

ALAMOSA — Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver students visited the San Luis Valley as part of their Journey through Our Heritage program. MSU Denver’s Chicano Studies Department started the program to help “create an awareness of culture and a sense of community” among the students involved. This year, the students visited the Valley to experience the richness of culture and tradition that still flourishes here. They visited Antonito, Conejos and other communities, and joined with Adams State students for two days of fellowship and sharing.

The high points of the visit were activities at the San Luis Valley Museum, where the students participated in the Voices of the Valley: A Gathering of Cultures conference, and getting to know the students involved in Adams State’s Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (C.A.S.A.) Center.

Bertha Garcia from the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico showed the students the traditional way to prepare and bake bread in the hornos at the C.A.S.A. Center, while Alamosa Elementary teacher Lara Malouff baked biscochitos (crispy cookies). Weaver Perla Koperloff also showed the students how wool is spun into thread and then woven into cloth.

One Metropolitan student said, “My family were migrant workers who used to travel from Mexico to the San Luis Valley to work in the fields each year until we moved to Denver. This has been an amazing journey for me, and has helped me appreciate my culture and family much more!”

One of the goals of the Journey through Our Heritage program is self-empowerment for the students by teaching them to appreciate and see the value of their culture. It also attempts to build leadership skills by encouraging the students to engage with their communities.

By bringing the students to the Valley, the university hopes to help them form stronger connections with their pasts and with other students like them.

Courier photo by Phil Ray Jack

Artisan Bread Baker Bertha Garcia from the Santo Domingo Pueblo showed students from Adams State and Metropolitan State Universities how to bake bread in the hornos at the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement (C.A.S.A.) Center.

Chalk Art Festival

"Chalk Art Festival draws in Journey Through Our Heritage mentors" 


Journey Through Our Heritage mentors worked on this chalk mural during Denver's Chalk Art Festival.

The Denver Chalk Art Festival is an outdoors event that took place the first weekend of June, where over 200 artists participated in drawing temporary masterpieces on the Larimer Square pavement, sharing the Italian tradition of chalk art. The Chalk Art Festival was a great activity that helped promote Journey Through Our Heritage  and gave work study mentors a new experience and new connections for the future. 

               Each year,  chalk artists take part in two different contests during this event: the Sponsor’s Challenge and the Youth Challenge. Prizes go to Best in Show, People’s Choice, Best Use of Color, Best Representation of Color, and other awards determined by the judges, such as Most Chalk-Covered Artists or Hardest-Working Group.  Winners of the Youth Challenge, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD), can come away with hundreds of dollars in art supplies for their school.

JTOH participated in the Youth Challenge, where young artists from local schools endured the early summer sun to create something beautiful for the public.  This challenge took place on the streets of Market and Larimer Square, where the team was given two boxes of pastel chalk, water bottles, food, and other supplies. The goal for the Journey Through Our Heritage team: to reproduce Jerry Jaramillo’s painting  “Our Lady of Guadalupe” on a 6 by 6 foot square within two days. This challenge proved to be difficult, due to the uneven tar surface and the blazing sun, causing the crew to burn through chalk and to suffer through exhaustion. Yet the JTOH team, including Damaris Santos, Peach Dance, Renee Brant, Michael Diaz, Jay Jaramillo and Yvette Glover managed to finish by the deadline and create something many people would not soon forget.

This year the festival was especially rambunctious for attendees and artists alike. Within walking distance of the  chalk art activities the Capitol Hill People's Fair and Denver Comic Con were also heating up the weekend with food, bands, comics and a plethora of costumed revelers. One artist commented ,"The  completion was more about creating beauty and becoming one with the community than winning."

This attitude carried through to the MSU Denver team. Even though the JTOH rendition of  "Our Lady of Guadalupe" didn't win top honors, the Journey had the pleasure of working next to the  winners of the Youth Challenge and the Youth Challenge People's Choice, a group of young artists from Westminister High School. "This was a great opportunity for us and we really look forward to next year." said Santos, the team's lead artist.

Over all our team enjoyed the Festival and the challenge. We learned how fun it was to draw with chalk on the group, and that this event was a great for college student to find connection for their major. This year was even more eventful due to the People’s fair and Comic Con all happing at the same time and both were walking distance from the chalk art festival. Even through Our team did not win we are proud of our accomplishment, the new friend we made, and the fact that the winners of the challenge were right next to us (Westminster high school). This was a great event and the members of the JTOH team are looking forward to next year.

For more pictures please check out out chalk art album on Facebook

 Article by Chris Utterback

Renee Fajardo Anstine and her new book: Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! and Other Tummy Tales

by Marisa Darnel Sep 6, 2015

Renee Fajardo Anstine, wife and mother of seven, obtained a law degree in 1983 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She has dedicated her life to teaching leadership skills to inner city youth, since then. Her passion has always been to empower those who struggle. Her work with the Colorado Folk Arts Council led her to her current position at Metropolitan State University of Denver as the director of the Journey Through Our Heritage Program.

Fajardo Anstine's cultural heritage includes roots in Mexico, the Picuris Pueblo, the Philippines, and Israel. Her love and respect for all cultures is evident in her writings and projects.

She was awarded a Colorado National Endowment for the Humanities award for the Return of the Corn Mothers' project. This collaboration with master photographer Todd Pierson is a unique pictorial of women from the South West who imbue the spirit of the land and community.

Mrs. Fajardo Anstine was also the co-creator of five Tummy Tales books: Holy Mole Guacamole; Pinch a Lotta Enchiladas; Chili Today, Hot Tamale; Ole Posole; and Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! These books are collections of family stories from around the nation. They include family-friendly recipes and an interactive recipe page for kids.

Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! and Other Tummy Tales, illustrated by Arlette Lucero, is a humorous and educational book, like a magical wonderland of the tapestry we call America. You will enjoy the recipes in the book as much as the tales.

The stories were compiled by Renee Fajardo Anstine in collaboration with Carl E. Ruby, and edited by Ed Winograd.

?To buy any of the books, please, contact Renee Fajardo.


Renee, tell us about the work in collaboration with Ruby, Lucero, and Winograd, for the creation of this book.

There would be no books at all without these talented and dedicated folks. Carl Ruby has been there since the beginning of the Tummy Tales project 20 years ago and is a very talented storyteller in his own right. Arlette Lucero, who has illustrated the last three books in the series, is a very awe-inspiring artist who takes great pains to capture the spirit of each and every story. Ed Winograd always tells a good story as an author, and does an exceptional job of editing. Without this team there would be nothing to celebrate. I am not gifted or special in any way, except being able to see the tremendous talent in others. I owe the success of this series to these people and have nothing but adoration and respect for all of them. 

In every book of the series there is a story told by you. How do you feel telling stories of your childhood?

I take creative license when I spin a story. My familia calls it embellishment. One day, I hope they will understand I did so with a heart filled with love and passion. I come from a long line of picture makers. Our ancestors, the Picuris Pueblo, are known for their ability to create images that speak to people. As a diverse mix of many heritages, I try to honor all those who came before and celebrate the sacrifices they made for future generations. For my husband and me, and for our seven children, I hope I have left a legacy they are proud of. I have been steadfast in my pursuit of passing on the important lessons I was taught as a child. Family is always the most important aspect of our existence, and remembering the stories of our past is crucial. At the center of every human being’s life worldwide is our ability to break bread together, and thus seek our commonality by sharing sacred time with each other.

I also believe it is important to remember our roots and share that with others. But I would like you to tell us how you feel with your diverse ancestry, and how that has influenced your life.

I come from a diverse cultural background. My mother’s people were Jewish, and I knew almost nothing about them. My father’s people are Picuris Pueblo, Mexican, and Filipino. I really was only exposed to my father’s family, and as a descendant of the South West, I realized at a young age that my paternal family did what they had to do in order to survive our homeland. We were exploited by many who came seeking their fortunes here, and yet we held our dignity by always treating those who were in need with respect and kindness.

Speaking Spanish was taboo for my grandmother and my father. Yet we always ate our traditional foods -- green chili, enchiladas, and posole, as a way of preserving our heritage. Growing up, my brother and I had little contact with our Jewish family. But I know that even these relatives on some level helped to create a life where someone like me could survive long enough to propagate a new generation. I write my stories and compile the stories of others so that no one will forget how much effort and love it took to survive the hardships of the past. Even though I only knew my Hispanic/Indigenous family, I strive to give credit to all my ancestors.

Have you seen any improvement in the situation of immigrants, through the years you have been in contact and worked with them? Do you consider yourself a social activist for the cause of understanding and accepting diversity?

Humanity has no borders. Our evolution as humans has always depended on our ability to diversify our genetic pool. Before this place I now call Colorado was part of the United States, it was part of Mexico, before that part of New Spain, and before that it was inhabited by my paternal ancestors. We eventually married and integrated with other peoples who came here seeking a better life. Sadly, some people still see those who come from outside our politically created borders as immigrants. The reality is that we are all part of the human species and are all connected to each other in more ways than we are disconnected. In a win-win situation, we could all move between these socially restrictive borders and live and raise families in peace where ever we felt compelled to. Our foods, our water, our traditions are all part of the beautiful tapestry of our existence. We have those who support and work to create a global understanding. As a nation we have come a long way, but we still have a very long way to come. In my lifetime I have seen a lot of progress with regard to what we deem basic civil rights. but I have also witnessed much ignorance. I am hopeful that we will continue to progress. I am an activist in that I am never remiss in thinking that the work is done with regard to what can be. 

You have been working for many years in the art environment of Denver. Tell us about that.

I went to law school thinking I could change the world. I was wrong in thinking that practicing law was my calling. I ended up raising seven children and working with youth. I may not deserve to be commended for this, but I know that whatever resources I had available to me, I used them as best I could. For over 25 years I have endeavored to tell the stories of the women, men, and youth of the South West. I have tried to give dignity to those who had no voice, and with a humble heart have been diligent in using art to help those who felt they were not significant. The Tummy Tale books have been able to preserve the traditions of many who may not have been able to publish their own stories. 

Thousands of young people have been able to hear the stories of those who call Colorado home. I do what I do to give credence to those who feel they have no say. Not everyone is a rock star, rich doctor, or successful lawyer. But everyone is important and has a story worth hearing. What makes this life interesting is the diversity of all of us. I work with the kids who most people think are destined for less than stellar financial success. To them I say, you are just as important as the corporate CEO or a politician. These young people are the future of our country, and their stories are pertinent to our survival. The stories of those who are our elders are teaching tools, and they can be used to help our youth make a better future here

You said once that you would like to tell a big American novel. What would the story be about?

It would be about struggle, acceptance, and honor. I would like one day to tell the story of my people and how they persevered to survive against all odds. I would tell about how kindness and compassion count for more than anything, and how every human being is responsible for the welfare of the entire planet.

After such intense work all your life, are you planning to take a break or a Sabbatical time? If not, are you already planning another project?

I have no plans to ever retire to a secluded beach. I do as I am moved to do. I trust the creator to lead me to my final destiny and welcome what comes next with open arms. A recent Return of the Corn Mothers nominee from Alamosa said she was brought to tears when she was asked to tell her story. This was a wakeup call for me. I may not be a national news anchor or a movie icon, but I have a responsibility that I take very seriously. I will continue my work until it is done. 


Ed, what has your journey with the Tummy Tale books been ? You have numerous stories in the books, too.

First of all, thanks  for all your kinds words about Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! With Carl and Renee's talents as compilers (and Renee's as a writer). Arlette's wonderful illustrations, and the storytelling talents of our authors, it's an excellent book! It was a pleasure to work as an editor with the authors as we went through various edits of their stories, and to have several authors help me with my translations of Spanish phrases in them.

I wasn't involved with Holy Mole Guacamole! (the first Tummy Tales book), but after I met Carl and Renee and served on the board of the Rocky Mountain Storytelling Conference with them, they invited me to edit the second book. So I've edited the last four and have contributed stories to three of them. My first story, "How I Was Saved by Spinach Borscht," is one I had been kicking around in my head for decades, based on something that happened to a relative in the twenties. The next one was more literary, but the most recent one is based on a night that Isaac Stern was actually scheduled to have dinner at my family's house in Greeley, Colorado before a concert, but couldn't make it. As with many of the folk and original stories I tell as an oral storyteller, understanding and forgiveness are major subjects in them.

I can't say enough about all the organization and hard work that Renee, Arlette, and Carl put into making this book a reality. As always, it has been an honor and a privilege to work with them, and with this book's great variety of authors and their ethnic-flavored stories (and foods!).



Arlette, how do you feel about the book being in color this time, and are you up for a new book?

I loved making the illustrations for the last three Tummy Tale books. When Renee approached me to create the illustrations for the last book, I said I would if the illustrations could be in color. Of course I would have done them anyway if they had to be in black and white, but I am so happy that we were able to get the color for Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! And yes, I am always up for a new book. It takes a lot of time to do the illustrations for the stories, so it might be a while before we do another book.



Carl, you have been here from the has it been?

The creating of the “& Other Tummy Tales” series of books, all five of them to date, has been a journey of some rough roads and some smooth roads, but the final destination is one of caring, understanding, and love of the many people and their heritage of traditions, culture, and food. The process of expressing the many family tales forms a bond, shows happiness, and makes them proud of their roots. All of the “& Other Tummy Tales” books convey that feeling, and that is the vision that Renee and I have had from the inception.

As a first-generation American, I strive to pass along to my family the traditions and the foods I grew up enjoying. Through my stories in the “& Other Tummy Tales” publications, maybe I have. My tale in Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! & Other Tummy Tales titled “Not So Old Christmas Customs” involves the rapid changing of family traditions that are becoming more assimilated into today’s American cultural thinking. How will I feel if they are soon replaced with something else? I will admit, I rearranged many of my parents’ German traditions. Oh My!

Being a partner of a talented group of positive-minded people is a rewarding feeling. Each brings to the books their own expertise in a way that makes the books come alive. So we must keep the writers writing, the illustrator drawing, the editor editing, the presses rolling, and as many as possible family stories being told.

?It has been a wild and wonderful trip!

News 2014


Even after all these years Local activist keeps introducing theater to a community that might not know it’s there without her

BY Quincy Snowdon Staff writer, Updated: December 19, 2014 8:15 am

As a student at Crawford Elementary School 15 years ago, Nelson Moreno didn’t have many opportunities to experience local theater. In fact, they practically didn’t exist. Practically. Scenes of scripts, sets and stages seemed a world away to Moreno and his classmates, an unfortunate reality for many schoolchildren who grow up in areas like the one in which they did.

“I grew up on Colfax, with a lot of violence, domestic violence, and a lot of gangs,” Moreno said.

Nelson Moreno helps lead a monthly program for underserved youth of north Aurora at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. After participating in the program throughout his childhood, Moreno found it important to continue bringing the arts to those that might not have the opportunity on their own. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)
Nelson Moreno helps lead a monthly program for underserved youth of north Aurora at the Aurora Fox Arts Center. After participating in the program throughout his childhood, Moreno found it important to continue bringing the arts to those that might not have the opportunity on their own. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

The East Colfax corridor was battling those issues on a daily basis when Moreno was an elementary schooler there in the late ‘90s – an area on constant damage control amid the constant stigma of social strife; a stigma the area continues to grapple with today. In an environment like that, Moreno says, memorizing lines is the last thing on anybody’s mind.

“When you grow up on those streets you don’t have the opportunity to do those things – to go to the theater and stuff,” he said.

But, for a couple of hours a few times each year, Renee Fajardo changed all that.

“She was the pioneer in bringing talent to the stage for this community which has grown ever more diverse,” said Peg Alt, community outreach specialist with Original Aurora Renewal.

Fajardo is the founder, coordinator and leader of the holiday cultural concert series at the Aurora Fox Arts Center, an initiative she started 19 years ago that puts on monthly cultural events for the underserved youth of north Aurora.

“I wanted to draw attention to The Fox Theater and artists in Colorado, because 20 years ago people had no idea the area could offer those things and had such diversity,” she said.

Fajardo spearheaded the project fresh out of law school through a partnership between her former employer, the Colorado Folk Arts Council, and The Aurora Fox and Original Aurora Renewal. In the nearly two decades since its inception, the series has introduced middle and elementary schoolers to the world of theater.

“I grew up on Colfax, and people would tell me how rough of a neighborhood it was and I would say, ‘no it’s not,’” Fajardo said. “I wanted to do something to prove that to them.”

Now a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Fajardo coordinates eight annual shows throughout the fall, winter and spring with her outreach group, Journey Through Our Heritage, which aims to grant artistic and cultural opportunities specifically to Native American, Chicano and black students in underserved communities. Over 25 schools from across the metro region now participate in the program, and more than 250 students attend each show, which often center on holidays like Día de Los Muertos in November and Cinco de Mayo in May.

The project has come full circle for Fajardo in recent years, as she now works alongside Moreno, an undergraduate work-study employee of hers at MSU, in planning the series. A junior psychology major, Moreno has helped organize the series with Fajardo and other MSU students for over two years by providing PR and marketing support.

“It just kind of happened, I really wasn’t looking for this,” Moreno said. “I found Renee and found out she was the one behind The Fox stuff and thought I should help out. I’m just trying to give back to my community, and trying to make a difference through theater.”

Moreno also tutors at Aurora Central High School, his alma mater, where he said he’s seen a noticeable difference in the attitudes of students over the years.

“I see that it’s changed and that kids actually care about their school work,” he said. “There’s less violence, less drugs, less bad stuff in general. I definitely see Aurora getting better.”

Fajardo said Moreno’s perspective as a former student has been an invaluable asset to Journey Through Our Heritage, and that she sees in him the same, innovative personality with which she started the series years ago.

“I was pretty burnt out on organizing, but when Nelson came in, it was this fresh perspective emphasizing that this is a very important event for the children in that neighborhood,” she said. “Working with him has really helped give me a new perspective and a fresh set of eyes.”

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance performed this month’s cultural concert with a dance on Dec. 17. Janelle Ayon, spokesperson for the dance troupe, said the series allows the company to better fulfill its vision of exposing students to multicultural, world-class art.

“The face of Denver is changing, and this production in particular touches on several different cultures and when there’s some part of a show kids can relate to, it allows them to buy into the experience and be that much more fulfilling,” she said.

Hosting performances like the one given by Cleo Parker is also fulfilling for Charles Packard, executive director of The Fox, who said being able to bring students into the world of theater is immensely gratifying, despite the constant responsibility to entertain.

“In these types of performances you know that there is somebody that is having their first experience with a live performance, and you know that that is only going to happen for that kid once and that performance is going to be profound,” he said. “I feel a lot of responsibility, but I feel great that we’re able to provide that – even though it’s a little bit terrifying.”

Dancing to connect

Native groups perform annual rites at Chimney Rock

Seventeen miles west of Pagosa Springs, above the Piedra River Valley, teetering on a narrow mesa, if not a ridge, the two spires of Chimney Rock quietly guard one of the most intriguing archaeological sites in the United States.

David Hernandez traveled from Mexico City to perform with Huitzilopochtli, a group from Denver that performs Aztec dances and rituals, during the Native American Cultural Gathering on Saturday at Chimney Rock National Monument.

Considered to be a distant outlier of Chaco Canyon, the nearly alpine location of the ruins are at the highest elevation and most northern reaches of an entire culture’s history.

Having been declared a national monument in 2012, on Saturday, at the annual Chimney Rock Cultural Gathering, hundreds came together to experience dancing, storytelling, arts and crafts of descendants of the people who once called Chimney Rock home.

In full regalia, a group from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, performed a buffalo dance, their feet in step with the beat of a drum, while an elder sang to celebrate their dependence on the animal. A group from Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, performed a deer dance – the deer, dramatic, in hoods of pine with actual antlers.

A thousand years ago, Chimney Rock was a major destination for ancestral Puebloans, said Terry Sloan, director of Southwest Native Cultures and member of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs who has been involved with the gathering for 11 of its 20 years and directing it for the last three. The culture spanned across central Arizona and New Mexico, southern Colorado and southeastern Utah, and its people came to Chimney Rock to dance in a great kiva, a round room used in religious ceremonies. It was a rite cherished by the visiting groups.

“These dancers really believe in this site and what it represents,” Sloan said. “They really push for it.”

U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Julie Coleman agreed.

“It’s a special thing for the dancers to really be connected, to get to come and dance where your ancestors danced,” she said.

But it’s not just the location, trade and blending of cultures and resources that make Chimney Rock unique. It represents a deeper connection to the landscape and more to the sky above.

The site is revered and studied for its archaeoastronomy – It’s believed to be an ancient observatory. And while other sites like Chaco have perfected architecture aligned with the annual summer solstice, Chimney Rock’s ancient astronomers were in touch with lunar standstills, which occur every 18.6 years.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know,” Coleman said.

Over the great house below Chimney Rock and its neighboring Companion Rock, moonbeams are said to shine through the two pinnacles during the lunar event, lasting two weeks every two decades.

Coleman, about to begin a three-year ethnography of the 19 pueblos of New Mexico to better understand their cultural connection with Chimney Rock, said recent studies show periods of construction are consistent with the astronomical event.

“There are three building phases, and every one of them is tied to a major lunar standstill. That’s pretty good evidence. It speaks to people being on a landscape for a long time,” she said.

Several hundred feet below the sweeping winds over the great house, Dr. Renee Fajardo, director of the Journey Through Our Heritage program at Metropolitan State University in Denver, called traditional drumming the heartbeat of the universe.

“We are all connected to every living creature,” she said.

The Aztecan group called Huitzilopochtli donned handmade regalia exploding in colors and effect. Peacock and other feathers swung in motion. All wore seed shells called ayayotls that signified water, but each dress was unique.

They danced prayers to “the four directions,” and blew into seashells – caracols – like horns.

Daniel Stang, who said his name is German, his grandfather is Spanish and his mother is Apache, said he danced to find harmony. He wore a great horned owl, its talons reaching his black-painted face.

Farjardo said they wear feathers to raise their energy to the sky.

“Everything is a connection to the Mother Earth and the great spiritual energy that connects us all,” she said.

Above the dances, near the twin pinnacles, ravens floated over the thousand-year-old masonry. The next lunar standstill will be in 2024.

Latin Heritage Camp

Latin Heritage Camp Dec 19, 2014

At this year's Latin Heritage Camp  Journey Through Our Heritage mentors helped adopted kids discover their own heritage.

The yearly camp, held at the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, CO, provides a place for families with kids adopted from Latin America, or Latino kids adopted in the United States.   Aztec dancers entertained the group while JTOH mentors served as counselors over the weekend-long camp.

Aztec dancers and JTOH mentors pose with kids at the Latin American Heritage Camp

Aztec dancers and JTOH mentors pose with kids at the Latin American Heritage Camp.

More than art: MSU Denver’s “Journey Through Our Heritage” encourages community respect

MSU Denver JTOH students oversee Jaguar Club members' mural painting.

Graffiti is nothing new to the La Alma neighborhood of Denver, but even kids who are used to seeing street art in their neighborhood aren’t used to seeing their own artwork vandalized.

That situation hit home for students ages 6-12 in the Jaguar Leadership Club, a summer program offered by Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Journey Through Our Heritage (JTOH) program, when some of the club members’ artwork was tagged shortly after being displayed.

The club, now a formal partnership with MY Denver, engages students in summer activities that promote leadership skills and encourage the beautification of their neighborhood while advocating cultural heritage and civic stewardship.

“Our club is about community respect and respect for one another,” said Renee Fajardo, the club’s coordinator. “They were able to see firsthand how it feels to have someone tag their personal property—their hard work.”

It’s an irony not lost on her, as the Jaguar Leadership Club was established in 2011 based on a request from

Denver City Council member Judy Montero (District 9) to offer youth constructive activities that address graffiti and other issues in the La Alma and Lincoln Park neighborhoods.

Jaguar Club members work on their mural, to be displayed over the La Alma Recreation Center Amphitheater.

Jaguar Club members work on their mural, to be displayed over the La Alma Recreation Center Amphitheater.

It’s a continued concern, as one of the program projects included the painting of a large portable canvas mural. The painting is to be hung over the La Alma Recreation Center Amphitheater and JTOH staff fear it will be tagged or stolen. However, this potential threat might just be the spark needed to create a culture shift in the neighborhood, added Fajardo.

JTOH is a multicultural educational program of MSU Denver’s Department of Chicana/o Studies and Department of Africana Studies that fosters intercultural leadership among metro Denver high school students by pairing them with MSU Denver student mentors.

This year’s Jaguar club members also enjoyed a variety of activities including ballet folklorico dancing, poetry, swimming, science experiments and gardening led by MSU Denver student mentors.

In celebration of the club’s fourth year, the Jaguar Leadership Club will present the Denver Arts and Venue Jaguar Mural to the community on July 2 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. at the La Alma Recreation Center Amphitheater. For more information about the Journey Through Our Heritage Program and the Jaguar Leadership Club visit

About the Author

Liz DeLuna

Liz DeLuna

Liz DeLuna is a public relations professional and a graduate of MSU Denver.

JTOH Team goes to Ludlow

Our team worked hard to put together a play based of the people who died during the Ludlow Massacre. Our team traveled to the Ludlow Museum to inform an audience of the horrible lives miners live. The play intergrated the past, present and world issues with miners. The video below is the play at the Conference. 

Published on Apr 24, 2014

The JTOH team worked hard to create and moving play to inform the audience that miners have been treated poorly for many years, not just in the United states but all around the world.

Journey through Our Heritage Partners with History Colorado for Outreach Program

February 6, 2014

DENVER, Feb. 4 -- Metropolitan State University of Denver issued the following news release:

TomorrowFeb. 5, approximately 200 Colorado middle and high school students from the Denver area will meet at the History Colorado Center for the Smithsonian's National Youth Summit.

The students will connect with local and national civil right activists, historians and scholars as they explore the 1964 youth-led effort for voting rights and education, known as Freedom Summer.

Organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, History Colorado (a Smithsonian affiliate) partnered with MSU Denver's "Journey Through Our Heritage" to bring this online outreach program to Denver-area students.

Speakers at the History Colorado Center include Vincent Harding, a past recipient of the University's Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award, a friend of King and professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at the Iliff School of Theology; B. Afeni McNeely, a lecturer in the Department of Africana Studies; department chair Winston Grady-Willis; and local community and student activists.

The History Colorado Center is one of 11 Smithsonian affiliate organizations around the country simultaneously hosting regional Youth Summit conversations. Coinciding with Digital Learning Day, the affiliate summit sites enable students to hear from and question a panel of experts, scholars and activists via live webcast from the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Miss.

"The Smithsonian's National Youth Summit offers an invaluable opportunity for Colorado students to connect with Freedom Summer veterans, youth activists and artists today who are working to make their community a better place," said JJ Rutherford, director of education at History Colorado. "Meaningful discussions take place about our collective history at the History Colorado Center for students of any age, and participants in this program will be encouraged to think of themselves as makers of history and asked to consider their ability to be active and engaged citizens."

This is the fourth in the Smithsonian's National Youth Summit series, which regularly draws students from more than 40 states and a variety of countries worldwide. History Colorado hosted its first summit in 2012 on the Dust Bowl; more than 150 Colorado students participated. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at

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A Day of the Dead Altar created by the

Journey Through Our Heritage Team

from the Metropolitan State University Denver

Department of Chicana/o Studies.

Breckenridge Creative Arts

will host a community altar on

Saturday, Oct. 25. 

Events, workshops in Breckenridge honor Día de los Muertos

In partnership with Metropolitan State UniversityDenver’s Department of Chicana/o Studies and Colorado Folk Arts Council, Breckenridge Creative Arts will host a two-day celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, on the newly completed Breckenridge Arts District campus.




The event will feature a variety of classes for adults and children. The message of the Día de los Muertos activities is that we all have indigenous backgrounds that connect us, said Dr. Renee Fajardo, coordinator for the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Journey Through Our Heritage (JTOH) program.



“We’re also going to talk about the significance of sugar skulls,” Fajardo said. “How the Spanish colonials changed the original Aztec traditions and everything adapted. In order to survive, people have to change and adapt, or you wouldn’t be here. Everything we will work on will have a history, a story, to get people to reflect on how we are really all connected. That’s the whole philosophy: a holistic view of how we’re all connected.”



A Day of the Dead Altar created by the

Journey Through Our Heritage Team from the

Metropolitan State University Denver

Department of Chicana/o Studies.

Breckenridge Creative Arts

will host a community altar

on Saturday, Oct. 25. Creating these 


Breckenridge Creative Arts will host a community altar in the Randall Barn on Saturday, Oct. 25. Creating these altars is one of the most important traditions during Day of the Dead in Mexico and in Mexican-American and Latino communities worldwide.

“We’re going to have the entrance to the altar so it’s an archway, where the spirits come through,” Fajardo said. “We’re going to bring the flowers, the candles, and we’re going to be making these little tiny skull notepads that you can come in and color on these skulls and write a message to your loved one.”

The altar will contain the traditional components of fire, water, earth and air to welcome ancestors, Fajardo said, and the community is invited to bring photographs of loved ones and flowers to place on the altar. Instructions and history of the altar will be given to visitors throughout the day in both Spanish and English.

“Say you had your grandpa and he was addicted to Hershey’s bars,” Fajardo said. “You could bring a note for your grandpa and a little Hershey’s kiss up there — any kind of food that they like that’s not going to spoil. They can bring fresh flowers, basically anything that they feel is important to the one that they are honoring.”

Fajardo said that though the ski industry is an important part of the economy of Summit County, it’s important for locals and visitors alike to realize that the area has a deep, abiding history from all of the people who came here before us, and Dia de los Muertos is a time to celebrate that.

“I think it will give the people who are new to Summit County a perspective of how deep our history is here, the complexities,” she said. “We’re hoping to reach out to some of the first-generation immigrant families to let them know that we understand that your traditions have followed you up here, you’re in this new place, and the old people are still here, but we all have this one thing connecting us together and we’re all part of this beautiful unfolding book of life.”


In the Breckenridge Arts District's sugar skull decorating workshop, families will receive an introduction to the customs of Día de los Muertos and the symbolism of the sugar skull. Participants will be taken through the sugar skull making process 

In partnership with Metropolitan State University Denver’s Department of Chicana/o Studies and Colorado Folk Arts Council, Breckenridge Creative Arts will host a two-day celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on Friday, 

Back to: NEWS
October 24, 2014

News 2013

Greek Pride

 "JTOH celebrates Greek pride"

people at the greek pride festival
Journey Through Our Heritage member Karissa Garcia, President of the student organization had the opportunity to work at the 2013 Denver Greek Festival that took place the 14th, 15th, and 16th of June. She has been a part of the Greek Orthodox community since birth and she has been working the festival for over ten years. Garcia was proud to work for JTOH's Service Enrichment Program by volunteering for the festival.

This festival brings together culture, dance, food and fun to show off Denver's Greek pride. Hellenic and Cretan dancers from local troupes entertained the festival goers as they sampled Mediterranean delights like Spanakopita and Pastitsio—Greek-style lasagna.   For decades, the gold-domed Assumption of Theotokos Cathedral of Denver off of Alameda and Dahlia has hosted this awesome event.  

With the funds raised from the event going to support the cathedral and its charities, and a smorgasbord of Greek festivities, the Denver Greek Festival supports and celebrates Denver's rich Greek culture.

—Karissa Garcia

JTOH Member Awarded Scholarship

Article by Nelson Moreno Avila 

Student accepting scholarship

JTOH has always been proud of the talented students that make up our diverse herd, but today Nicole Pasillas, has given our Family another reason to stand up tall and be proud. Just minutes ago, Officer Henry Velez, paid her a visit and gave her the good news, that she has just been awarded the prominent National Latino Peace Officer Association Scholarship. Nicole, Sports Operation Major, reacted with a reserved excitement but as for the rest of us here at JTOH, erupted in a cheerful frenzy, like in any family, the one receiving the recognition kept there cool but the other family members simply did not. There is no doubt that Ms. Pasillas is a worthy recipient, and deserves this award due to her hard work and dedication not only to her studies but to her community, she is in fact a mentor here our at JTOH where she helps influence and guide the lost Chicano youth in the Metro area, and besides her Sports Operation Major; Nicole is also Minoring in Marketing and hopes to take her developed skills to either Law School or Adequacies for Immigrants, and did I mention that she also kicks butt. Literally, Nicole is an avid Boxer, so, with that said, there is definitely no doubt that she has what it takes to handle everything her very bright future has to through at here and knock it out the ring.


Synopsis for: Nicole Pasillas

Site location: USA Boxing, at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center

Dates:  July 22nd –July 27th 2013

Time: 10-5pm everyday

 USA Boxing Chile Training Camp

 By: Nicole Pasillas

USA Boxing is beginning to turn heads with all the medals the athletes are racking up. However, those medals do not come easy; in fact, it takes training camps like the one Nicole

Pasillas a Journey Through Our Heritage member for 2 years now was able to attend July 22-July 27th 2013. The Camp Nicole went to was for a group of junior, youth and senior boxers

preparing to compete August 8th in Chile.

Nicole Pasillas was invited by Coach Pedro Roque Otano because of her previous work

Boxer and coach

with USA Boxing in the spring semester of 2013. Coach Otano is a widely renowned over the years. Coach Otano is currently the international

teaching coach for USA Boxing with a decorated record of 35 gold medals from the Olympians he has trained Nicole is interested in

coaching herself as she was a competitive amateur for over eight years and recognizes the importance of what a coach can stand for.

At the camp Nicole was able to sit in on training sessions and watch how Coach Otano pin pointed basic things in boxing; from foot work to

movement, to defense, and countering, to punching combinations and most importantly how to teach boxers to have confidence in

themselves so that they are able to clearly think in the ring against an elite opponent.  

 photo 3_zps8e83ed0a.jpg

Aside from observing Nicole was able to translate for Coach Otano, who is a native Spanish speaker from Cuba, she was also able to coordinate sparring for the boxers at the camp with local Denver boxers, giving the Colorado boxers a chance to experience the training center also.

Along for the camp observation was Christian Pasillas, who is a teen in need of guidance, he is also Nicole’s younger brother. She finds it important to help those in need and sometimes those in need tend to be family and friends. Nicole helped Christian find something he might like to do to keep him motivated from hanging with the wrong  crowd and want to make better grades.

At the camp Nicole was making sure to take in as much as she could learn to help pass on her knowledge to the boxers at Champions Boxing LLC gym, a  gym sponsored by the WBC Cares (World Boxing Council’s Cares, Big Champions Supporting Little Champions). Located in Thornton Colorado, at Champions Boxing, Nicole is an assistant coach working with kids from the ages of 4 to 17. Working on fundamentals, self-defense, physical health, and in many ways she is a mentor for the kids at the gym. Therefore, the training from USA Boxing was a blessing to help reach out to more kids.

 boxer practicing stance

 (This picture is of Christian who was being taught a proper boxing stance,

it took a couple of trys and some foot work techniques to position

 him correctly but that picture represents the proper stance)

(The pictures below is of ‘shadow sparring between the 20 athletes on the OTC gym floor)

boxers shadow sparring

children with certificates

Above is a picture of the kids and their certificates earned for just coming to the gym every day and working hard. It is a gym sponsored by the WBC Cares. The day this picture was taken, two of the athletes received lab tops due to the fact they had no computers at home for school work. The lab tops were awarded by former coach Stephen Blea on behalf of the WBC Cares. Mr. Blea also brought in the violin he was sending to Peru to a young girl who dreamed of playing the violin but did not have the money for one. Working with the WBC Cares he was able to reach out to the young girl who is involved in a boxing program in Peru. Now the young girl will be able to play and take lessons all because of the contributions from the WBC Cares, Mr. Blea spoke to the boxers at Champions Boxing and encouraged them to always work hard because dreams can come true.

Health and Wellness Expo 2013

Thursday, Apr 25, 2013
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM MDT
Lawrence St Mall, Flagpole area and Multi-Cultural Lounge

Join Us for the Health and Wellness Expo-April 25th

A journey of discovery into a world where culture, mind, body and spirit unite

Up Grade Yourself:

Jump Start Your Heart

Uplift Your Soul

Open Your Mind 

Health and Wellness Expo

(A Tribute to International Sports Day)

April 25th 10-3pm Auraria Campus 

Join Us!

Our student organization, Journey Through Our Heritage in conjunction with the Chicana/o Studies Department and Out Door Education is proud to announce our first Health and Wellness Expo, April 25, 2013. After interviewing hundreds of students for the past 3 years, we know that no matter what race, culture, creed or gender we are, we all love to get out and get active. Let’s celebrate the diversity of our campus by celebrating our sports, health and fitness!

What better vehicle to bring together community and the campus student body to rejoice our diversity than creating a signature event that honors what is best and brightest about our campus, our Diversity! To do so we want to follow in the steps of the United Nations and give tribute to International Sports Day by hosting a Health and Wellness Expo. This Global day of celebration was organized in Europe to recognize the fraternity and health that sports brings to the enlightenment of humankind.

We hope that you all can join us on April 25th for the Health and Wellness Expo. There are over 40 vendors  covering everything from holistic health organizations, to  organic eats, sports teams to cultural entertainment. Win free t-shirts or healthy snacks. Enjoy a lecture from MSU Denver faculty on the multi-cultural aspects that effect the mental , spiritual and physical health of  students on our campus.

At JTOH one of the most important attributes we stress is that a healthy mind and body and living in respect of each other are crucial to living a successful life. The JTOH Student Org believes that the student body of the Auraria Campus is a diverse and vibrant community that is in a unique position state wide to influence the youth of our state. Please join us by filling out the attached registration form we hope to see you at our event.

Please email  by March 1, 2013.


Karissa Garcia (President) Stephanie Porteous (Vice President)

Jay Jaramillo (Treasure)    Alejandra Lara (Secretary)

Journey Through Our Heritage Metropolitan State University of Denver

Wellness Expo Schedule

Lawrence Street Park

10:00am to 3:00pm

Over 40 organizations participating!

Fitness Organizations

This is the golden opportunity to test your fitness skills. Join the fun and fitness games!

Bone Marrow Drive

Colorado Marrow Donor Program will be doing a bone marrow donor registration drive through Genny's Hope Foundation and Bonfils  Colorado Marrow Donor at table 25.

Activist for Mental Health

Awesome information about mental health organizations and much more.

Community Organizations

Join us to learn about community organizations in the metro area.

Live & learn.

Live Entertainment

10:45  Huiltlzliopotchli Aztec  Dancers

12:30 MSU Denver Belly Dancers

1:45 Cleo Parker Robinson

Community Mural-jerry Jaramillo

In the Multi-Cultural Lounge  Lectures Series

Curanderos to Buddha,

Dr. Ramon del Castillo Chicana/o Studies  and Peak Medical

10:00am to 11:15pm

Women of Color Healing Stories

Dr. Ella Marie Ray African/African American Studies

12:30pm to 1:45pm

Win Free Gifts at  Journey Through Our Heritage At Table 39

 photo aascu_zpsbea94a3a.png

"Journey Through Our Heritage mentors open Democracy convention with a call to action"

Journey Through Our Heritage mentors kicked off the 2013 American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment national meeting on June 6, with a call to stand up and get involved in democracy.

JTOH mentors marched through the crowd  to the stage at the Marriott City Center, waving placards and shouting "It's time to march!" The annual conference is put on by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and JTOH mentors established the  theme for this year's conference: "Building Bridges and Solving Problems."

—Chris Utterback

JTOH mentors, led by Chicana/o Studies Department Chair Dr. Ramon del Castillo, pose during the 2013 American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment national meeting


JTOH mentors, led by Chicana/o Studies Department Chair Dr. Ramon del Castillo, pose during the 2013 American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment national meeting. Thursday, June 6, 2013 to Saturday, June 8, 2013
Marriott City Center • Denver, Colorado

News 2011

by Marisa Darnel Jan 27, 2011

This selection of poems by Mauricio Saravia, are brought to you in the second anniversary of his passing. Reading them will take you into a surrealistic journey into his inner feelings and visions.

This book is dedicated to Mauricio Saravia's loving memory and to all the human beings who are born different to the majority and struggle daily to be accepted and loved in a society that does not understand them.

Mauricio Saravia was born in Uruguay on January 27th 1970 and passed away on December 12th, 2008.   He moved permanently to the United States in 1998 when he was twenty-eight years old. But his love for this country developed much younger while staying at Shriners' Hospital for Cripple Children in Springfield, Massachusetts to receive treatment for a rare mutation called McCune-Albright. 

Despite lasting effects from his medical syndrome, Saravia loved life, people, and the arts. He enjoyed his time in this world, even after undergoing 8 major surgeries between the ages of 5 and 21. During the first intervention, he lost sight in his left eye. Two other times he was pronounced clinically dead. Yet, Saravia refused to give up. Instead, he gave voice to his emotions artistically, through poetry, painting, and music. Here was the inner expression of a life well lived.

The press has featured Saravia's works as well as his extraordinary spiritual strength and  philosophy that allowed him to overcome the limitations caused by his genetic condition. He was interviewed by television programs, radio shows, online as well as printed newspapers and magazines.  His life story has become a real inspiration.

Renee Fajardo, third from left, makes her traditional tamales for Christmas with close friends at her home in Arvada. From left are Carl Ruby, Ed Wonograd, Fajardo, Joanna Lucero, Nelson Moreno, Dee Flores and Arlette Lucero.

When Renee Fajardo was a kid growing up in Denver, there weren’t many tamale factories — all she remembers is a taco cart on the 16th Street Mall.

“The guy had a monkey and an accordion, and I’d always beg my grandma and auntie to buy me some tamales. And they’d say, ‘No, wait. Christmas is coming,’ ” she said.

In the Latino community, tamales became important for Christmas and New Year’s meals, she said, “because you couldn’t get them every day. You had to make an effort to go home and make them with your family.”

Fajardo is one of the co-authors of the “Tummy Tales” books, a food heritage series that started in 1996. The latest book, “Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My! and Other Tummy Tales” features many traditional holiday recipes from local authors who share treasured family recipes, from Czech to German to New Mexican.

Every holiday season, in kitchens across Colorado, families celebrate their heritage with a smorgasbord of the festive foods that includelebkuchen gingerbread from Germany, springerle cookies from Switzerland, and meatballs from Sweden.

And those who celebrate the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa feast on a mix of soul food and West African specialities like chicken yassa, according to Adrian Miller, the Denver author of the James Beard award-winning “Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.”

“Food is one of the easiest ways for immigrants to re-create home when they get to a new country,” he said. “They try to have the same stuff they had in the old country.”

The roots of Christmas, American-style, date back to some of the nation’s earliest immigrants who, by the 1850s, had begun to fuse various Old World traditions.

The Christmas tree was originally a German custom, and Santa Claus dates to St. Nicholas, a fourth-century monk from Myra in what’s now in modern Turkey — a saint famed for giving to the poor. His legend spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, and the Dutch, who called him Sinterklaas, imported him to America, where he became Santa Claus.

Christmas food traditions came the same way, spreading across America as generations of families kept their heritage alive. Sandra Maresh Doe, an English professor at MSU, celebrates every Christmas with memories of her grandfather, an immigrant from the former Czechoslovakia who worked as a doctor in Iowa City, which had a large Czech community.

“He would go out to the farms and tend to the old Bohemians, who sometimes paid him in chickens, ducks and blood sausage,” she said.

Each Christmas, her mother made kolaces, pastries of raised dough filled with cherries, apricots or poppy seeds.

And Carl Ruby, a co-author of the “Tummy Tales” books, grew up with a traditional German Christmas, the son of parents who emigrated to America in 1929.

His mother made stollen, lebkuchen, crumb cakes called streuselkuchen, and spritzgebacken cookies.

“And my father made nusskugen, nut cake, with a recipe he brought from Germany and always kept in his head,” said Ruby. “I make it now, too.”

This year, chef Patrik Landberg celebrated his Swedish heritage atCharcoal restaurant with a Christmas feast that featured traditional Swedish meatballs, smoked salmon and pickled herring.

And Scandinavian-style Christmas shows up this year in such cookbooks as “Scandinavian Baking” by Danish chef Trine Hahnemann (Quadrille Publishing, $35) with a whole section on Christmas.

“Every year, I invite the children of friends and family to come to my house and spend a whole day baking,” she writes, including her recipes for Finnish sugar cookies, Danish aebleskiver doughnuts and traditional vaniliekranse, or vanilla cookies.

Recipes for winter holidays in “Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My!” include foods traditional to the New Year’s celebration in the Geechee and Gullah culture on the Sea Islands of Georgia — such as Hoppin’ John with black-eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread.

It’s part of the strong connection between soul food and New Year’s Day, said Miller.

“People have an attitude if you don’t have black-eyed peas, greens and corn bread on New Year’s,” he said. “With Christmas, there are fewer cultural imperatives. Every family and region does different things.”

His family’s Christmas food tradition was either turkey or prime rib with baked potatoes and always salad and vegetables.

“But the full display was dessert,” he said. “That was our Christmas vibe.”

Their spread included sweet potato pie, pistachio nut cake, a rum cake made with his grandmother’s recipe — and red velvet cake, which he says has become a popular African-American Christmas tradition in recent decades.

And for Renee Fajardo, making Christmas tamales is always about connections.

“All the windows in the neighborhood were steamed up because the women were in the kitchen making tamales,” she said.

Behind those steam-fogged windows, families gathered to cook.

“You can make tamales with just one person, but it’s not as fun,” she said. “You cook the meat together, make the chile together and the masa.”

Gathered around the table, the family shared the assembly — smoothing masa corn dough over a corn husk, adding a scoop of pork, then wrapping up the husk and putting it in the pile for steaming.

“It’s a community endeavor that brings people together as a family,” she said. “You sit around and talk to each other, and time slows down. It’s almost like a meditation. You’re doing the same thing over and over, and suddenly the big world is shut out, and you’re in the little, tiny world of tamale making.”

Colleen O’Connor: 303-954-1083, or @coconnordp


Tamal Recipe

This recipe from “Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My!” is from Nelson Moreno Avila, who grew up in Denver and shopped at El Mercado with his mom for the Christmas meal. The three chiles he uses can be found at grocery stores or Latin markets. Makes about 3 dozen.



1½ pounds boneless pork

2 whole cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

For chile sauce

¼ pound Chile Nuevo Mexico

¼ pound Chile Guajillo

¼ pound Chile California

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

2 cups water (stock saved from boiling the chiles)

1 tablespoon Crisco shortening

For masa

5 pounds masa (cornmeal flour)

? cup water

1½ tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups Crisco

2 ounces of the chile sauce


3 dozen dried corn husks


Soak the dried husks in warm water for about an hour or so, or until they become soft. Drain the husks and let dry.

Place pork in a medium-size stock pot. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Add cold water to cover the pork. On high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it simmer partly covered for about 1½ to 2 hours. Remove pork from the stock and let it cool. Once cooled and cooked, begin shredding meat into fine threads.

To make the chile sauce, take a large saucepan and boil the Chile Nuevo Mexico, Chile Guajillo, and Chile California for 10 to 12 minutes or until softened.

Drain chiles and reserve the water. Rinse seeds out of the boiled chiles. Put chiles, garlic powder, and black pepper in a blender and blend until it becomes purée. Add the 2 cups of reserved water. In a heavy, large-size saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon Crisco over medium high heat. Add the drained chile purée.

Be careful when draining because it can get messy. Reduce the heat to low and cook over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once time is up, take sauce off the heat. Add all of the chile sauce to the pork mixture, except 2 ounces to be added to the masa.

To make the masa, place 5 pounds of masa in a large mixing bowl. Add water and baking powder evenly. Then add salt and begin mixing the masa using your hands.

Add the Crisco and 2 ounces of chile sauce to add color to masa. Knead the masa once more. It’s ready when it starts feeling thick and compact. Then set it aside.

To assemble tamales, spread about 2 tablespoons of the masa mixture on each corn husk, lengthwise down the center. Then add a plop or two of the marinated pork to the center of the corn husk. Roll up the husk. If you want, you may secure with extra strips of cornhusk. Fold up the bottom end.

To steam tamales, use a stock pot with wire lining or steamer insert. Add enough water to keep it below the steamer. You can add some husks to the bottom to prevent the tamales from getting wet.

Tamales must be placed with the open side up along the inside of the stock pot, almost like forming rows of circles. Topping with a foil tent can help.

Steam until the husk peels away from the masa easily, which should be within an hour or so. To make the chile sauce, take a large saucepan and boil the Chile Nuevo Mexico, Chile Guajillo and Chile California for about 10 to 12 minutes or until softened.

Serve warm.



This recipe from “Frijoles, Elotes, y Chipotles, Oh My!” is a favorite of Sandra Doe, who got it from Irma Farrell of the Lodge Mile-Hi Czechs.


2 packages yeast

½ 2 cup sugar

¼ cup instant mashed potatoes

1 cup warm water

1 stick unsalted butter

1 stick margarine

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

6 cups flour (Hungarian High Altitude unbleached flour is the best if you are in Denver)

Jar of cherry or apricot jam for filling


In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, sugar and instant potatoes in warm water, and stir. Melt butter and margarine in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add cold water. Stir and add to the mixture. Add salt and eggs; beat well.

Add 4 cups of flour and beat 2 or 3 minutes on medium speed. Change to dough hooks, add rest of flour and beat well. (You may need a little more flour; add it in ¼- cup increments. If you add too much, the dough gets hard.)

Scrape down the sides of bowl; beat again.The dough is ready when it breaks away from a spatula or wooden spoon. Put in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and put in a warm spot for 1 to 1½ to 2 hours.

You could also cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. (Dough will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.)

To make the kolaces, cut dough into walnut-size pieces and roll into a ball, then place on a greased cookie sheet. Cover with a towel. Let rise until bulk doubles, then punch down centers and brush edges with margarine. Cover and let rise again.

Form a well in the center and fill with cherry or apricot filling. Bake at 400 to 410 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on oven.

Remove to cooling rack and again brush with melted margarine.


Sweet Potato Pie

Adrian Miller likes this sweet potato pie for Christmas, with recipe adapted from “Southern Pies” by Nancie McDermott from Chronicle Books. Makes one 9-inch pie.


1½ cups mashed, cooked sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)

1¼ cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten well

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 store bought, single layer pie crust


To prepare the sweet potatoes, place 1½ pounds of whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes in a large pot with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook until sweet potatoes are very tender. Depending on the size and shape, this will take between 15 to 30 minutes.

Drain sweet potatoes, and set them out on a platter until cool enough to handle. Peel sweet potatoes, mash them well, and measure out 1½ cups.

To make the pie, heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Use a fork or whisk to stir them together well.

Add the milk and eggs, and stir to mix everything together evenly. Add sweet potatoes, butter and vanilla. Mix them together well, stirring them into the egg mixture carefully, until you have a thick, smooth and evenly combined pie filling. Pour the filling into the pie shell and place it on the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes until the edges puff up and the center is fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you gently nudge the pan.

Place the pie on a cooling rack or on a folded kitchen towel and let cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Little Spiced Apple Pies

These are inspired by traditional British mince pies, which aren’t part of the Scandinavian Christmas tradition. Danish chef Trine Hahnemann lived in Britain for a while, then used mince spicing for small apple pies, as she writes in “Scandinavian Baking.” Makes 20 pies.


For the pastry

? cup powdered sugar, plus more to dust (optional)

2 ? cups all-purpose flour, plus more to dust

Pinch of salt

1 cup butter, chopped and chilled

1 egg, lightly beaten, plus more to glaze

For the filling

14 ounces tart eating apples

½ cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3½ teaspoon apple brandy


For the pastry, sift the powdered sugar, flour, and salt together, then mix in the butter, either in a food processor or by rubbing it in with your fingers, until it has the consistency of crumbs. Add the egg and mix the dough until it is firm and smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight if more convenient.

Peel the apples, core them and cut into small cubes, then tip into a saucepan with the sugar and spices and simmer 10 minutes. Add the apple brandy and let it simmer 5 minutes more, then let cool.

When the apple mixture is cold and you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to ? to ? inch thick, cut out 20 rounds with a 2¾- inch cookie cutter, and place them in two nonstick cupcake tins. Fill with the apple sauce.

Cut out 20 smaller pastry shapes, using a small round or star cutter, and place them on top of the apple sauce. Lightly press the rims together and brush the pastry with egg. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar to serve, if you like.


Almond Cookies

This dough is great when baking with children, because the cookies can be cut into all kinds of shapes, says Trine Hahnemann in “Scandinavian Baking.” Makes 40.


1 cup superfine sugar

1 ? cups all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more to dust

5 tablespoons ground almonds

? cup cold butter, chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten


Mix the sugar, flour, and almonds in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs. Work in the egg, again with your fingers, until you get an even dough, then wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. At this stage you can make a little hole in the top of each so they can be hung up later.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 5 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack, repiercing the holes for hanging if necessary while the cookies are still warm (they may have closed up as they baked). 

Return of the Corn Mothers featured in the ASU Hatfield Gallery


Tori Martinez

Alumna Tori Martinez '16 will be inducted into the Return of the Corn Mothers.

Students of the Journey Through Our Heritage (JTOH) program at Metropolitan State University of Denver will celebrate the San Luis Valley leg of a yearlong tour of the nationally acclaimed, award-winning photo-journalistic exhibition, Return of the Corn Mothers, with two special events this spring in Alamosa. Seven new women from the Valley will be added to this traveling exhibition, which includes women from Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

The Adams State University Hatfield Gallery will showcase 20 of the 41 portraits of the Corn Mother women. The exhibit, Return of the Corn Mothers, includes an opening reception from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, in the Adams State Art Department. The show continues through March 17. For information call the Art Department Office at 719-587-7823.

The Return of the Corn Mothers is a traveling photographic/oral history exhibition of women from the Southwest who embody the spirit of community. The exhibition, which received a Rocky Mountain Women's Institute award in 2007, and a Colorado Endowment for the Humanities grant in 2009, has traveled in the past eight years to Arizona State University in Phoenix; New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico; the University of Colorado at Boulder Museum of Natural History; and Pima Community College in Tucson. In 2012, it was featured at the MSU Denver Center For Visual Arts.


Peggy Godfrey will be inducted into the Return of the Corn Mothers.

The show is based on the Pueblo myth of the Corn Mother, a legendary entity synonymous with Mother Earth, who represents growth, life, creativity, and the feminine aspects of the world. Master photographer Todd Pierson has traveled throughout Southwest for the past decade, capturing the images of 41 contemporary Corn Mothers. The women in the exhibition, who include midwifes, healers, watershed preservationists, storytellers, musicians, farmers, ranchers, and more, were chosen for their contributions to community and their creative endeavors. Their life stories, and those of female ancestors they have chosen to honor, are also documented in film and story as part of the exhibition.

The Corn Mother show will move to the San Luis Valley Museum, in Alamosa, and be on display from March 19 through April 16. Seven new women from the Valley will be inducted into the Corn Mothers traveling exhibition at the opening reception 5 - 7 p.m., Saturday, April 2. The new inductees include Oneyda Maestas, Adams State CASA director, Dr. Carol Guerrero Murphy, Adams State CIELO director, Tori Vigil Martinez, Adams State alumna and sociologist and community activist; Claudia Ebel, food and justice advocate; Dr. Kristy Duran, Adams State associate professor of biology; Bertha Velarde, wilderness advocate; and Peggy Godfrey, rancher. The exhibition at the museum will feature portraits and video clips of all 41 women, along with the unveiling of the 2016 Return of the Corn Mothers book, which contains biographies, life philosophies, dichos (sayings), and a story by each of the women; edited by Ed Winograd. The show runs through April 16, with the closing reception starting at 6 p.m.

For more information on the Corn Mother Project, contact Dr. Renee Fajardo of MSU at 720-329-0869 or or visit Corn Mothers Project.


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