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Celebrate Southwest and border culture with NMSU

A presentation about Santa Fe's Sylvanus Griswold Morley, a noted archaeologist who worked as a spy for the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence during World War I, will be among the highlights when New Mexico State University hosts "A Celebration of Southwest and Border Cultures" July 23 at Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat south of Santa Fe.


The event will begin at noon with cocktails on the patio, followed by a Southwestern Sunday Brunch at 1 p.m. Its purpose is to announce the creation of the Southwest and Border Cultures Institute at New Mexico State University.

Sharing the spotlight with Morley will be exhibitions on Billy the Kid, Mayan artifacts, Mexican retablos, vintage trade catalogs, book signings by a couple of New Mexico authors, Southwestern food and live regional music.

During the brunch, NMSU historian Ray Sadler will discuss Morley's wartime adventures in Central America and other aspects of his life. Sadler and NMSU professor emeritus Charles Harris are collaborating on a book with the working title "The Archaeologists Were All Spies."

Morley spent much of his career excavating Mayan ruins and deciphering Mayan hieroglyphs. He also was instrumental, as a member of a city planning board in 1912, in defining the Santa Fe style of architecture.

His wartime activities, and indeed the Office of Naval Intelligence itself, have been largely forgotten, but they laid the groundwork for modern U.S. intelligence efforts, Sadler said.

Morley was serving as director of the Museum of New Mexico when he died in 1948. He is buried in Santa Fe's Fairview Cemetery, located across from the state highway department headquarters on Cerrillos Road, Sadler said.

Featured during the cocktail hour will be exhibits from the NMSU Library's extensive Billy the Kid Collection, for those interested in New Mexico's most famous outlaw; the Library's Amador Collection of vintage merchandise catalogs; artifacts from Mayan ruins, presented by NMSU anthropologist Lisa Lucero; a selection of Mexican retablos from the University Art Gallery, which holds the nation's largest public collection of these sacred paintings from the 19th century; and information on NMSU's Latin American Studies and Public History Program.

NMSU's Kevin McIlvoy, author of "Hyssop," a novel set in New Mexico, and Abe Pena of Grants, author of "Memories of Cibola: Stories from New Mexico Villages," will sign copies of their books.

NMSU's new president, Jay Gogue, will present welcoming remarks at the brunch.

Sunrise Springs Inn and Retreat is located at 242 Los Pinos Road in La Cienega. The cost of attending "A Celebration of Southwest and Border Cultures" is $50 per person. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Cynthia Hoffmann of NMSU's Arts and Sciences Research Center at (505) 646-2773 or cyhoffma@nmsu.edu.

The Southwest and Border Cultures Institute, made possible in part by a $450,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will promote research and community outreach emphasizing the unique multicultural heritage of the region. The university is in the middle of a fund-raising campaign to match the NEH grant three-for-one, which will create a $1.8 million endowment for the institute.

Karl Hill
July 11, 2000