Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Concha Ortiz y Pino de Kleven

Concha Ortiz y
Pino de Kleven

Honored October, 2000







Concha Ortiz y Pino de Kleven

The life of Concha Ortiz y Pino de Kleven was larger than life. Much larger.

Her first ancestor to come to New Mexico from Spain served as an officer under Gen. Don Diego de Vargas, who reconquered the territory in 1692 after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Her great-great-grandfather was the only New Mexican ever to sit in Spain’s ruling body, the Cortes, where he served in 1810. Her father was a rich patron in the village of Galisteo, where Concha was born in 1910, and on a 100,000-acre ranch.

When Concha graduated from Loretto Academy in Santa Fe, the nuns told her father she would never amount to anything because she was rebellious and headstrong. Instead she got him to start a Hispanic crafts co-op, which she ran to help impoverished neighbors. When Franklin Roosevelt first ran for U.S. president in 1932, she toured the whole state leading rallies for him. In 1936 she was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives, then served two more terms, the final one as the nation’s first female minority whip in a legislative body. In the Legislature she championed women’s rights, bilingual education, equal funding for urban and rural schools, and a bill to establish a School for Inter-American Affairs at the University of New Mexico. After leaving the Legislature, she attended that school, and earned a degree in its first graduating class.