Every corner of the world has its own signature music, art, and literature. There’s something magic in every land. The state of Mississippi, like New Mexico, has a depth of cultural richness that few regions can rival. Writers, painters, potters, visual artists, and performing artists call the region home. For visitors who wish to experience the richness of Mississippi culture, two trails programs help them navigate the wealth of the Mississippi’s musical heritage: the Mississippi Blues Trail and the Mississippi Country Music Trail. These trails engage visitors, support local artists, and contribute to the creative economy. Whether a trail is local, regional or statewide, all communities benefit from the artistic and economic activity that a trail provides. As the former director of Mississippi’s state arts agency and its current tourism director, Malcolm White is especially qualified to share his experience successfully developing trails and other programs in an arts-rich and rural state.
Malcolm White, Director, Tourism Division, Mississippi Development Authority
Acequias are hand-dug, gravity-fed irrigation canals that divert stream water to sustain the agro-pastoral economy Spanish colonial settlers established in the upper Rio Grande valley in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries. Acequia agriculture extended riparian habitats, transformed regional ecology, and created the cultivated New Mexican landscape we see today. Ditches divert, divide, and deliver water to crops and livestock. They form borders and pathways. They connect and define communities of irrigators who manage water as a commons. They sustain biodiversity along riparian corridors and replenish underground aquifers wherever they reach. This illustrated talk looks at acequias in relation to local hydrology, sacred sites, and outdoor cultural practices involving collective linear movement through social and geographical space. The seemingly unrelated activities of procession and ditch cleaning are both dynamic linear formations that move through a particular cultural landscape. Procession is a calendric prayer ritual that symbolically inscribes and circumscribes a sacred topography. Ditch cleaning or la limpia is an annual secular work ritual that maintains the efficient, cooperative operation of an acequia. Like irrigation itself, both activities also inscribe the bodies that perform them and publicly enact personal commitment to a community of place.
Sylvia Rodríguez, Professor Emerita of Anthropology and Former Director of the Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, University of New Mexico