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NMSU celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month with renowned author

More than 53 million people in the United States identify as Hispanic, according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, New Mexico State University is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting events honoring the culture?s contributions and traditions.


Man in white shirt
Eliseo 'Cheo' Torres, the Vice President for Student Services at the University of New Mexico delivers a presentation on Curandismo for Hispanic Heritage Month. (Photo by Dorene DiNaro)

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean and Central and South American cultures in remembrance of the independence of six Latin American countries in 1821. Mexico and Chile also have independence anniversaries in September, while Columbus Day or Dia de la Raza is celebrated on Oct. 12.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, at the Corbett Center Auditorium, Eliseo ?Cheo? Torres, vice president for student affairs at the University of New Mexico, will give a presentation as part of NMSU?s Hispanic Heritage Month activities.

The talk, titled ?Reviving Mexican Traditional Medicine in New Mexico: Curanderos y Yerbitas,? will discuss his two books.

Indigenous groups practiced sophisticated medical treatments long before the arrival of the Spaniards. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the ancient Inca successfully performed brain surgery.

?Both of my books describe and explain the revival of a rich Hispanic heritage and tradition that is being revived nowadays and brings back wonderful memories, especially to our youth, of grandma?s herbal remedies and ritual used in healing the body, mind and spirit,? Torres said.

Torres is the author of two books: ?Curandero: A Life in Mexican Folk Healing? and ?Healing with Herbs and Rituals.? He also teaches the class ?Traditional Medicine Without Borders: Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico? each summer at the University of New Mexico. This popular class is cross-listed with four departments and brings practicing Mexican healers to the UNM Campus.

Torres has served as vice president of student affairs since 1996. He was once vice president for external affairs at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and taught in the Bilingual Doctoral Program, where he received his doctorate. He has served as interim president, vice president for student affairs and special services, director of the university?s Center for Continuing Education and also as assistant to the president. Torres provided his efforts serving as an adviser to Mexican President Felipe Calderon for improving lives of immigrants in the United States.

For more information call NMSU Chicano Programs at 575-646-4206 or lgutzspc@nmsu.edu