Considered one of the most influential Native American leaders of the 20th century, Wendell Chino’s papers are now part of NMSU’s Archives and Special Collections political papers. Collections like the Wendell Chino papers bring scholars from across the country and world to NMSU to conduct their research. Dennis Daily (second from top) examines Wendell Chino’s papers, which consisted of 93 boxes of materials detailing the time Chino spent focusing on the needs of the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Dylan McDonald (above), NMSU political papers archivists and special collections librarian, returns materials from the Wendell Chino collection. It is available now for researchers to use in the Archives in Branson Library.

Generous donations offer insight into past, blueprint for future

By Tiffany Acosta

Mark Chino ’76 knew he faced a monumental task – one best given to the professionals at NMSU. When his father died in late 1998, Mark Chino inherited numerous materials and papers that detailed the life and work of Wendell Chino, who was a longtime president of the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

“He knew what he wanted to do for his people,” Mark Chino says. “All of the efforts he made during his lifetime were directed toward that objective.”

After years of thought, Mark Chino and his wife, Selena, decided to donate the Wendell Chino papers to NMSU’s Archives and Special Collections in 2017. Wendell Chino is considered one of the most influential Native American leaders of the 20th century.

“The collections in the NMSU Library Archives provide resources of substantial depth on the history and cultural heritage of southern New Mexico that can be found nowhere else,” says Dennis Daily, NMSU Archives and Special Collections department head. “We have a responsibility to ensure that our collections represent the experiences and points of view of all those who have called this region home. The Wendell Chino papers provide an important perspective on the history and development of the region from the Mescalero Apache viewpoint.”

The collection, which is now part of the Archives and Special Collections political papers, consisted of 93 boxes of materials documenting the time Wendell Chino spent focusing on the needs of the Mescalero Apache Tribe in areas such as education and career training, healthcare, housing, support for the elderly, public safety, infrastructure development and tribal courts.

“Looking through the countless boxes of materials and pictures and newspaper articles, the thing that surprised me the most was the depth and breadth of issues he was involved in,” says Mark Chino, who was a young child during the early years of Wendell Chino’s tenure.

“The collection will be of great interest to scholars looking into Indigenous rights and self-governance during the pivotal decades of the mid-20th century,” Daily says.

“The decision to donate archival material, particularly those of a family member, can often be angst-ridden as donors have a direct emotional connection to the papers,” says Dylan McDonald, NMSU political papers archivists and special collections librarian. “Mark and Selena recognize that Wendell’s speeches, correspondence, files and photographs are of immense interest to others besides themselves. To ensure that others have access to the papers, they have placed great trust in the library to preserve, care for and make available the thousands of items that give insight into Wendell’s life.

“As archivists process personal papers, they are granted a unique view into a person’s life,” McDonald says. “In this case, while Chino spoke, wrote and testified very powerfully and persuasively on Indigenous autonomy – often very publicly – it’s the private correspondence he carried on with national political figures and Indigenous leaders that really grabbed my attention.”

During Wendell Chino’s tenure, the Mescalero Apache Tribe built the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino, schools, a hospital, a health center, a timber mill and a metal fabrication plant.

Work to fully organize, describe and publicize the collection is ongoing but it is available now for researchers to use in the archives in Branson Library.

“Collections like the Wendell Chino papers bring scholars from across the country, and even outside the U.S., to NMSU to conduct their research, enhancing the university’s reputation as a unique Southwestern and border-region research institute,” Daily says.

“A lot of these materials, whether they be my dad’s stuff or anybody’s, they are one-of-a-kind that can’t be duplicated,” Mark Chino says.

“Placing the papers at NMSU also shows Mark and Selena’s support of the university and library’s mission, which is to provide a setting for scholarship, training and education for all the citizens of New Mexico,” McDonald says. “This donation speaks to their desire to provide the students of NMSU with a world-class educational experience.”

To read more about the Wendell Chino papers visit openstacks.nmsu.edu/the-wendell-chino-papers.

Lasting Legacy: Scholarship will benefit aspiring teachers

By Adriana M. Chávez ’19

Karen Trujillo ’92 ’93 ’98, who passed away in late February 2021, was known for her dedication to students and educators in New Mexico. After her death, Trujillo’s family took steps to ensure that dedication continues.

Trujillo’s family has created a memorial scholarship fund to support aspiring teachers. A proud Aggie, she earned all three degrees from NMSU in secondary education, mathematics, and curriculum and instruction.

Trujillo became superintendent of Las Cruces Public Schools in 2019, but maintained her deep connection to NMSU.

“This is an enormous loss to her family, LCPS, the learning community of New Mexico and beyond,” says Henrietta Pichon, interim dean of the College of Education.

Trujillo was instrumental in establishing Educators Rising New Mexico in the NMSU College of Education in 2015. Educators Rising, formerly known as Future Teachers of America, focuses on increasing the number of education majors across the state and supporting retention in the field. In 2017, NMSU hosted an Educators Rising New Mexico conference that attracted 140 students and teachers from high schools across the state. Trujillo was proud of that accomplishment.

In 2016, Trujillo established the STEM Outreach Alliance Research, or SOAR Lab, which has since grown into the Southwest Outreach Academic Research Evaluation and Policy Center. One of the biggest research projects the lab has undertaken is the annual teacher shortage report, which Trujillo began compiling with the help of her lab students.

Trujillo was part of the team that started Math Snacks, created by NMSU game designers and faculty in the Learning Games Lab. Math Snacks was designed to supplement classroom instruction to help make math more accessible to students.

Trujillo went on to become interim associate dean of research in the College of Education before being selected to lead the New Mexico Public Education Department in 2019.

“Dr. Trujillo served our university for many years as a teacher, administrator and researcher before going on to serve as LCPS superintendent,” says Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “She did what we hope each of our graduates is able to do: to take the knowledge and experience they gain from their time at NMSU and use those tools to make our community and our world a better place.”

To donate, please visit nmsu.life/TrujilloMemorial.