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Sacred Seeds

Jaramillo, Mari-Luci with Cecilia J Navarrete. Sacred Seeds: A Girl, Her Abuelos, and the Heart of Northern New Mexico. Barranca Press, 2019.

Young Adult Non-Fiction

Sacred Seeds is a delightful story of Madam Ambassador Mari-Luci Jaramillo’s formative years growing up in Northern New Mexico, in particular, Las Vegas and a ranchito in Las Manuelitas, NM.

The narrative is a collection of memories from Mari-Luci’s notes with research and story telling by Cecilia Navarette.

The reader is taken on a journey through the difficult years of the “Great Depression” into the1940s. During this time Mari-Luci and her siblings spent much of their time with adopted grandparents Silviano (Rampo) and Juanita Ruiz (Nanita) Tafoya, due to a strained relationship between their parents, Marrilio Autna (Papito) a musician and shoemaker and Elvira Ruiz (Mamita), a creative but shy seamstress. During these difficult times the children were fortunate to have the love and support of Rampo and Nanita and through their abuelos’ example became loving and caring individually themselves.

Mari-Luci and her siblings were taught to embrace their community, the importance of family and the value of reading and education. They attended church regularly and local fiestas often, and living in Northern New Mexico they witnessed the rituals of “Los Hermanos” the Penitentes, a secret catholic order. Their Nanita passed on an appreciation of the natural use of plants and herbs for healing ailments. Visiting the ranchito often their grandpa Rampo taught them farming, riding horses and caring of the farm animals, instilling a strong work ethic that would serve them well throughout their lives.

There is also a chapter of scary stories and dichos (proverbs), wise old sayings to help navigate perceived dilemmas that express common truths. Siblings Vera, Mari-Luci and Maurilio (junior, now called Bud) first language was Spanish but, they all learned English in school.

Mari-Luci became an accomplished professor at the University of New Mexico and in the late 70s was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to become the US Ambassador to Honduras. It is no wonder, given the loving and caring upbringing she received, and the great lessons learned from her abuelos Rampo and Nanita and parents Papito and Mamita, Mari-Luci was destined for success and great accomplishments in education and diplomatic service.

In addition, the Sacred Seeds contains many family photographs giving us visual images of life in Northern New Mexico in the 1930s and 40s.

Mari-Luci’s story is a great read for those wanting to learn about Northern New Mexico, its language and culture, and the raising of children during a simpler time.

Review by Patrick Trujillo, NHCC Docent / HLA Volunteer.

Available in the NHCC Library:

YA E840.8 .J38 A3 2019

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