Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

Rijmes was born in Albuquerque and brought up in Dulce, where her parents worked as missionaries. After her 10-year stint as the photographer for the Living Treasures group, Rijmes has moved back to Dulce to teach school and return to her roots.

"I feel very drawn to this place," Rijmes said. "I have a real closeness with the earth here.

"I am a little embarrassed to be receiving this award," she said. "I think I am too young."
Rijmes is 59 and will be 60 in February. She is younger than most inductees named by the Network for the Common Good, the Santa Fe organization that honors elders who made great contributions during their lifetimes. Most Living Treasures are named when they are in their 70s.
The reason for the early nomination is something Rijmes is more excited about than the nomination itself.

"The focus is really on the book, not me," Rijmes said.

The book she spoke of is a book of the photographs she has taken of Living Treasures over the past 10 years. The book, called Living Treasures, will be introduced during a celebration from 2 to 5 p.m. Sept. 14 (1997) at the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors.

"The whole celebration is going to be wonderful. We hope to have some of the Living Treasures there to sign the book. I think it will be great."

As far as being named a Living Treasure herself, Rijmes is not sure she deserves it.

"It's a real honor. I don't really see myself as one, but every person we've had as a Living Treasure has said the same thing I am saying now. I feel like somebody else deserves it more," she said.

Then, after a pause, Rijmes said: "I guess it's like you looking at your own photographs. You never like them but other people think they're great."

Rijmes' involvement with the committee that selects Living Treasures began in 1984 when the group formed.

"I wanted a project to keep me going with photography and we came up with this idea. We decided to go for people who aren't honored a whole lot. Some have been and others have not been publicly recognized by anybody. So it gave us a chance to get together and it turned out to be an even better idea than we thought it was," she said.
Rijmes said that the people who have been named Living Treasures are usually very appreciative of the honor.

"It is great that we can honor them while they are living," she said. "Sometimes you really don't know if you've been the kind of influence people think you've been."