Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Cordelia Coronado



Honored December, 1991

Cordelia Coronado

Cordelia Coronado's life is rooted in tradition and the land. All her activities, including her personal life, her community service, and her art, harmoniously function to preserve the way of life she loves.

Mother of eight, Medanales postmaster for thirty years, teacher, gardener extraordinaire, choir leader, and water rights activist, Cordelia is above all known for her fine Rio Grande Valley weaving.

"I am very content here, doing what I am doing. I'm happy with what I am, and I love it. I have no ambitions to amass physical possessions or money. As long as I have a good roof over my head and food on my table, that's all I need," she says.

Cordelia traces her weaving lineage to her paternal grandfather, Isidore Martinez, whose work influenced the Chimay6 weaving houses. At ninety-six, her mother was still weaving and selling her famous rag rugs. Born in Medanales in 1933, Cordelia eventually left for California but returned in 1957 to take over as postmaster when her father retired. Working in the afternoons left her plenty of time for weaving during the mornings "when the winters were long." She taught weaving from her studio and at Ghost Ranch as well. "Weaving is very therapeutic," she says. "On a bad day, it melts troubles away."

While each blanket she weaves is unique in color combination and design, Cordelia is quick to acknowledge her weaving ancestry. "My ancestors on both sides were Navajo. When the Spanish brought sheep and wool, they started weaving Indian patterns. There's no clear picture of: is it Spanish? Is it Indian? It's like the peopleÑwe're part Indian, we're part Spanish, we're part Anglo."

For all her love of weaving and the recognition she has achieved for her art, her "garden is the main thing. Weaving is just a hobby." She not only grows food for her family but sells corn, peppers, and dahlia bulbs--the flower and vegetable strains she has developed over the years. "Gardening is my life," she says. "Just to see the little plants emerge from nothing--it's like a child. If you tend it with care and love, it will respond."

As treasurer of the Rio de Chama Acequias Association, Cordelia works to preserve the water and farming rights of the families in her community. "Si no hay aglla, no hay z'ida," she says. "If there's no water, there's no life." Living in a community makes self-sufficiency possible. "Sure, we can go to work in Santa Fe. But why our area is special is that it's more comforting, more fulfilling to do it here with our neighbors."

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