Facsimile of Original 1925 Edition
FOREWORD TO THIS EDITION
Blanche Chloe Grant was born in 1874 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Like many other women of her time, she was from the first an independent spirit. She was interested in the arts and literature and saw a role for women that did not include the usually prescribed domestic life. A graduate of Vassar College, she also studied at the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, The Pennsylvania Academy and the Art League in New York City. She soon became known for both her landscape paintings and her career as a magazine illustrator.
In 1918, she was asked to go to France as head of an art project under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.
A move to Taos, New Mexico in 1920 brought about dramatic changes in Grant’s life. She developed an intense interest in the rich and varied history of the area. She took on the job of editor of the Taos Valley News and began her years of research into the history of Taos and the Southwest. This led then to a series of books, many of which were about Taos and the people who lived there.
Her art also changed and she painted Native American and Western subjects. Although an active participant in the Taos art scene, she continued to show paintings in New York. Gradually her main interests turned to her writing. Her books included When Old Trails Were New, Doña Lona and she edited a biography of Kit Carson based on his notes.
After Grant got settled in Taos, she became interested in the Indians at Taos Pueblo. She became friends with tribal members, especially some of the elder members. They found her to be a sympathetic and trustworthy listener. She saw that inevitable changes were happening to the Native American culture and society. Their history which had been handed down generation to generation through oral means was now being fragmented and lost.
At the same time there was a national interest in the ways of Native Americans. This interest which was sparked by the end of the Mexican War in 1848 and the acquisition of new American territory had attracted a host of writers. While some were serious historians and anthropologists, there were others who stayed for a brief time, asking questions in a way that provoked unreliable answers from their sources. There was also the problem that some Native Americans felt it was wrong to share the facts about their history, customs and rites with outsiders.
The Taos Indians with their large population, colorful ceremonies and magnificent Pueblo structure were always of prime interest. They tried to balance between tradition and the new intrusions of the modern world. Grant understood the narrow line between the two worlds and respected it. She helped the Taos Indians that she knew understand the importance of having someone they trusted write down their words for posterity. It was not just for the Anglo world but for their own future generations.
In her own words, Grant gives the genesis of her purpose in writing this book. She said, “So much is slipping away that should be caught in hard print.” Always seeing herself as historian, a conduit for facts, she reminds readers that this is not her story. She is only the recorder. That is why her tombstone bears this inscription: “Historian of Taos.”