Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood – “Home-Lands: How Women Made The West" Part I
Thursday, 14 July 2011 15:40

I have always been intrigued with the concept of home. Is it moveable or stationary? Is it structure or a geographical location? Is it a feeling, a sense of belonging, a safe haven, a nurturing place? Does it involve others--family, friends, pets or companions? What happens when we leave our place of birth, become our own pioneer, strike out on our own, across an ocean or a country or a city?

I wondered how I would relate to this Santa Fe exhibit at the NM History Museum put together by the Autry National Center in Los Angeles. I remember seeing an opening exhibit there back in the 80s all about rodeo cowgirls. And now, here in my new home, I was excited to see what had been brought together.

It is a celebration of the kitchen, the heart of the home, New Mexico's African Legacy. The part of that exhibit had a quote, "We came for a better life." Another quote, "Places we now think of as the American West have longer, deeper identities as homes”. The west was a home before it was the American West and it remains a home to a diverse people today, from ancient pueblos to modern suburbs.

I learn that in Spain women could own land and property, and it was passed down from the woman to whomever she wanted to leave it to. Once Mexico took over this territory in the Americas, women no longer had that right.

I learned that from a Spanish man and Indian, comes a Mestizo, and from that the offspring female is known a La Coyote.

One exhibit, a video projected against burlap talks about Juanita La Coyote Johnson, “Remember your grandmother”. A new life born in 1930, how life changed.

I see a sign that says in 1940, 38 out of 1000 women die during or from childbirth. That resonates with me. My birth mother died that way when I was 2 1/2 years old while pregnant with a second child.

I go back to what is home. Community, acceptance, comfort and support, connection, nurture, growing flowers, family, mother’s love, feeling safe, warm, and peaceful.

Join me in the next Blog as I delve more into the show and do some detective work into the women whose names I wrote down in my journal.

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