Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Gregorita Rodriguez

Gregorita Rodriguez


Honored April, 1984

Gregorita Rodriguez

All curanderas work their healing differently from one another, but they share the faith that a greater power is working through them," said Gregorita Rodriguez. "Their patients sense this and share in the faith in the healer's source of power. I can't tell someone exactly how to heal. I can share the skills and techniques of massage of the stomach. I can explain the healing properties of the herbs. This knowledge is important, but the rest is not something you hear with your ears or see with your eyes.

Gregorita was the first-born daughter of Ramona and Rafael Montoya. Born in 1901 in her father's house on Montoya Hill in Santa Fe, she was instructed in the art of healing by her Tia (Aunt) Valentina. In her father's family, one woman of each generation was selected to become a curandera. Valentina, who had learned healing from her mother, took Gregorita with her when she went to care for the sick and deliver babies, teaching her how to use massage and native herbs for healing.

As a child and throughout her life, Gregorita gathered herbs in Pacheco Canyon northeast of Santa Fe, where she spent her summers at El Quelites, the ranch her father homesteaded in the early 1900s. Near the Santa Fe Ski Basin, El Quelites was so named for the wild spinach that grew there. Gregorita was almost eleven when New Mexico became the forty-seventh state on January 6, 1912, and she vividly remembers wondering if the world was coming to an end. "There wasn't any warning when suddenly a terrible noise came up from the city. The church bells rang. Train whistles blew, sirens wailed, and fireworks exploded in broad daylight. We had never heard so much noise."

Gregorita's dream of becoming a nun and giving her life to God was not to be; instead, she married Manuel Rodriguez on August 7, 1922. Those were hard times. She had sixteen pregnancies; only eight of her babies survived infancy.

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes