28 April 2009

2009 New Mexico State Finals of History Day

Karen Stein Daniel, CG, is our representative for History Day. Below is her report on the state finals.

The New Mexico State Finals of History Day were held Friday, April 24th, at the new Education Building located on the grounds of the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. This year's topic was "The Individual in History: Actions and Legacies." This was not to be a mere biography of a person's life but to show how a person's actions produced a lasting legacy to history. This is a more difficult task than one may think. It might involve a person well known to history; however, it might also be an average person known to only a few, who left or is leaving a remarkable legacy.

The following awards were given:

(1). Best Senior Individual Exhibit displaying the best documented use of primary source materials in a genealogical, family history, or community history topic. The winner for 2009 was Melia Anthony, a student at Shiprock High School, Shiprock, NM.

Melia's exhibit was entitled "Leonard Crow Dog Sr., The Man with the Medicine." She chose this exhibit to honor her grandfather, Leonard Crow Dog, Sr., a spiritual leader, because "growing up as a child in a home that consists of a lot of traditional practices," Melia learned that her grandfather had much to do with the person she has become today.

Mr. Crow Dog, Sr.'s life was greatly influenced by the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Siege at Wounded Knee in 1973. He never went to public or boarding school, but learned the old Lakota ceremonial traditions from his father, Henry Crow Dog. During the time of the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee, he was a spiritual leader among Native Americans fighting for their rights. Melia informs us through her exhibit and process paper that he has worked to bring back old Lakota ceremonial ways and traditions in risk of being lost forever, and he sets an example for future generations by teaching the next generations the traditional ways. Melia herself is learning these ways from her grandfather.

Melia conducted her research by looking at documents and interviewing grandfather who spoke in his own Lakota tongue, and for which she translated. Stories were remembered from her extended family of parents, uncles and aunts, and other elders also contributed. Melia obtained photographs from her grandfather's personal collection and other information from his personal web site.

(2). Best Junior Individual Exhibit displaying the best documented use of primary source materials in a genealogical, family history, or community history topic. The winner for 2009 was Robert Chanez-Jacks, a student at Mountain View Middle School in Alamogordo, NM.

Robert's exhibit was entitled "History of a U. S. Sailor - Alfredo 'Poncho' Carabajal." Robert stated that the person he studied was not "a president, an inventor, or a major influcnce in history" but "a man who was a part of history. . .who served in the United States Navy during the Korean War and World War II." Alfredo was Robert's step-grandfather, and Robert's exceptionally beautiful display was a testament to the mark his grandfather made in history as a United States Navy Sailor and to the mark he has made in his family's lives in sharing that history, memories, and stories with them. Alfredo chose to volunteer for military service but then also made it his career. Robert believes individual sailors have an influence many are not aware of as they put their lives on the line for all Americans.

Robert's research included numerous interviews with the family members of Alfredo Carabajal, and from them he was able to obtain family photos, documents, certificates, and a cruise book from one of the ships Alfredo had served on. Robert also interviewed current Navy personnel at his local Naval recruitment office who gave him valuable advice on memorializing his Hispanic step-grandfather through his military career, as well as information on ships and life in the Navy as a seaman. Robert also used the internet and books to find information on Naval history and the history of World War II.

The following thank-you to NMGS was received from Robert: "I would like to thank . . .the Genealogical Society for the award they presented me . . .at the National History Day State Competition . . .it was an honor to be able to present my step-grandfather's accomplishments he made in history. . . even though he was no one individually famous in history, he was famous to his family, friends and fellow shipmates because he was one of many USN sailors that fought for the rights and freedom of all Americans. . .It is groups such as yours . . .that give students the opportunity to strive and achieve."

(3). The Dr. Thomas G. Munyon Award for Medical History went to Megan Lunsford who had an individual Junior Division exhibit entitled "Gracefully Insane: Behind Closed Doors." Megan is from Heights Middle School in Farmington, NM. Her topic centered around the mental health reformer, Dorothea Dix (1802-1887). Megan is interested in mental health and wanted to broaden her research to include information about the horror of insane asylums and those individuals who worked to prevent abuse in them. Dorothea Dix became one of the most important figures in mental health history, although generally not recognized to the extent that she should be. Megan's board included information about Dorothea Dix's life, focusing on her work in mental health.

Information was displayed in chronological order and included numerous photographs. Megan found information in her library as well as on the internet, and she found newspapers to be particularly useful.

Primary sources included a letter that Dix sent to the Massachusetts Legislature requesting improved rights for the insane and detailing events she had witnessed across the nation regarding their abuse; a journal kept by a mental patient recording his mistreatment and how Dorothea Dix improved his life in her quest for social reform for the mentally ill; additional first hand accounts by patients who were abused throughout stays in asylums; and government documents including files, surveys, and analysis on mental health. Megan used a genealogical web site to locate Dorothea Dix's gravesite, including photos, quotations, and other information.

(4). The Dr. Thomas G. Munyon Award for Native American History went to Dillon Chavez who had an individual Senior Division exhibit entitled "The Boy Scout of America - Charles Alexander Eastman." Dillon is from Bloomfield High School in Bloomfield, NM. Dillon's inspiration for his topic came from watching an HBO video in 2008 entitled "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" which detailed the achievements of Dr. Charles Eastman, a Sioux (1858-1939). Dillon felt that Dr. Eastman's achievements were worth pursuing and that he deserved recognition for his efforts to improve relations between the United States Government and Native Americans.

Dillon located material in his school library and on the internet, and found particularly helpful documents from the National Archives, including Native American census records and photographs for his board. In his research, Dillon discovered that Dr. Eastman had written several books during his lifetime, and other Native American authors contributed to the search. Dillon's research revealed that Dr. Eastman was one of those instrumental in founding the Boy and Girl Scout movement in America, thus providing a way for America's youth from all ethnic backgrounds to come together through outdoor activities to gain knowledge and skills. Dr. Eastman's work also focused on gaining recognition for Native Americans through better health care and through his personal writings, public lectures, and teachings to youth.

Dillon's primary sources also included an interview with a descendant of Charles Eastman which provided him not only with information about Dr. Eastman's life but with comparisons of present and past conflicts that he might have experienced if he were alive today.

As always, it was an honor and pleasure to participate in New Mexico History Day and to represent the New Mexico Genealogical Society in this valuable work of helping students become excitied about history. I would also like to express my deepest thanks to NMGS member, Dr. Tom Munyon, for his sponsorship of the Native American and medical history awards.

-Karen Stein Daniel, CG

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