Archive for New Mexico
GOOD NEWS ! SURPRISE ~ Hermon MacNeil’s Chief Manuelito is back!
Yesterday’s post about MacNeil and Manuelito generated considerable interest and news from Gallup, NM.
Carolyn Milligan saw our Native American Day story and responded:
In his seventy-five years of life, the Chief was driven, accused, abused, enraged, betrayed, wise, proud and a thousand other emotions that a leader might feel in a war of cultures. All these experiences exacted a price from his life and energy.
“The restored Manuelito has been installed. Early tomorrow I’ll see and visit him. There are a few details to conclude but I will send you images of the restoration. Manuelito[‘s] dignity and presence have been skillfully restored. You will be pleased with the result.” … Give me a few days to reply to you and to send you images of Manuelito installed in his new location. You will then have before and after images of Manuelito to include on your website.
Harrison Lapahle’s website offers a brief history of Manuelito. He describes the warrior’s closing years with a sorrow and painful candor that recalls the similar sorrow of his Navajo Nation.
“He spent the last ten years of his life unhappy, certain that he had done the wrong thing by encouraging education, and by taking back all the livestock stolen by the young raiders of the tribe. Whisky was small comfort for his misery, but he drank it anyway. All around him his people still believed his words “Education is the ladder,” and they sent more and more of their children to school. They followed Manuelito even though he refused to lead them any longer.
He was a disheartened man, seventy-five years old in 1893, when he became very ill. Measles and then pneumonia brought the weakened old man to his deathbed.
In his fever, the years seemed to fade as he watched the sunlight play in small patches on the hogan wall. He saw the faces around him, his friends and family. He thought he heard Zarcillos Largos say, “Come, on the path of beauty you will restore your strength.” Manuelito closed his eyes in peace.
His death saddened many Navajos who had found strength in his strength. But his life had given his people a new trail to follow, and they walked it proudly, as Manuelito had walked.” [ http://www.lapahie.com/manuelito.cfm ]
A wonderful surprise! We await the return of the Chief to Gallup.
Seeing Chief Manuelito with his ‘dignity’ back, will prepare us all for the 21st Century.
Uncle Hermon would smile.
In July, the statue’s owner, Joe DiGregiorio, met with McKinley County Commissioners and told them that he wanted to give the statue to the county because “of its importance to the history of Gallup.”
According to Carolyn Milligan (chair of the McKinley County Fine Arts Committee) the MacNeil “Chief Manuelito” statue has survived a century of weathering, several paintings and a variety of repairs. The piece has been moved temporarily to Santa Fe for professional restoration. Milligan chaired the committee that recommended that the county commission recieve Joe DiGregiorio’s gift and restore the art piece properly. She informed me recently of the following:
MacNeil had made it one summer around the turn of the century when he was “doing the West,” for the Santa Fe Railroad. Old Man Cotton, an Indian trader, came in and wanted to talk to the sculptor. He showed Hermon a photograph of Manuelito (who had just died) and asked if he could work from it. Macneil said “of course.” He called Mr. Cotton in when he had finished, asking it the sculpture was OK. He said he would see. He let a Navajo woman into the room and closed the door. She came out a few minutes later, crying, Macneil said Cotton said it was OK ( the woman was Manuelito’s widow). http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/june/062807gbda_gl%5Blndmrkchfmn.html
Bill Donovan, a correspondent for the Gallup Independent, tells us that the Chief Manuelito statue has greeted gallup citizens from his glass enclosure on the front of the Old Cotton Warehouse (Zanios Foods) north of the Sante Fe Railroad track for several decades.
The statue’s historical and cultural importance is evident to Zanios’ manager, Martin Romine: “He’s right outside of my office,” said Martin Romine, manager of Zanios. “People like to come and tell their children and grandchildren about Chief Manuelito. We have lots of chairs in the lobby and the public is welcome. The hours we are open are 8-5 on Monday through Friday, 8-4 on Saturday, and Zanios is closed Sunday. There are information posters on the wall around the sculpture, explaining the history of the building and the art piece.
An “icon” can be defined as an object of great attention and devotion, an image, a representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified personage. Clearly, the “Chief Manuelito” has become a cultural focal point and gathering place for teaching heritage to generations of residents and visitors of the Gallup community.
We believe that Hermon A. MacNeil would be proud that his efforts have been so influential and inspiring over a century later.
Professor Carolyn Milligan has informed us that the 115 year old statue of Navajo Chief Manuelito will again be on public display in Gallup New Mexico. Sculpted by Hermon Atkins MacNeil in 1895, the 8 foot, 3 inch likeness of the respected Navajo warrior and leader has become a gathering point of cultural pride for citizens and visitors alike. We were recently contacted by Carolyn Milligan, Associate Professor Emeritus, UNM in Gallup, NM, who is the Chair of the McKinley County Fine Arts Committee. She writes:
“Our large sculpture is currently in Santa Fe undergoing a much-needed restoration. I have seen interim reports of the conservation process and plan to visit the work in progress this coming Thursday. Manuelito will soon reside in our new courthouse annex overlooking the plaza.” She further states, “I am contacting you because last year I recommended the County accept a gift from a local businessman who had offered a monumental sculpture of the historic Navajo warrior and later tribal leader, Manuelito. Hermon Atkins MacNeil created this posthumous memorial to Manuelito, commissioned by C.N.Cotton, a wealthy trader with the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni people and who is credited with establishing the national market for Navajo weaving. In the summer of 1895 MacNeil traveled to the Southwest in search of more American Indians. (He found a lot more here than in Chicago!) It was during that trip that MacNeil met Cotton and created the sculpture which then resided in a high niche at the front of Cotton’s store. For a century Manuelito was the visual marker for all travelling on the train that they had arrived in Gallup.”
In July 2010, the McKinley County published a “Request for Proposals (RFP’s) No. 2010-24 for Conservation, Restoration, Including Consultation on Maintenance Plan Moving and Installing for Herman Atkins MacNeil’s CHIEF MANUELITO Sculpture, Gallup, New Mexico”. The proposal describes the sculpture as follows:http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/june/062807gbda_gl%5Blndmrkchfmn.html”]”]
The sculpture is a larger than life, polychromed figure of Chief Manuelito (1818–1894), a respected Navajo warrior and leader. It is constructed of gypsum plaster over a wood and metal armature. It was created by Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866–1947), a prominent sculptor, who created many cast bronze public monuments of historic figures in New York City, Chicago, and on the east pediment of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. MacNeil’s interest in Native American culture brought him to the Southwest as an artist commissioned by the railroad to produce artworks based upon the Native cultures of the Southwest. While in Gallup, MacNeil met C.N.Cotton, a prosperous Gallup trader, who is credited with creating the national market for Navajo rugs. Cotton and Manuelito had been friends. In 1895, (the year following Manuelito’s death from measles and pneumonia), Cotton commissioned MacNeil (and paid him in Navajo rugs) to create this dignified tribute to his friend Manuelito, shown draped in a chief blanket and wearing turquoise nuggets strung around his neck and suspended from his earlobes. The sculpture was planned for, and installed in a high niche on the east façade of the C.N.Cotton store and warehouse, an adobe building adjacent to the Santa Fe Railway tracks in downtown Gallup. For nearly a century the dignified figure of Manuelito was a familiar visual marker to all who traded with C.N. Cotton of his friendship with one of the Navajo’s most respected leaders but the figure also announced to those traveling from the east that they had arrived in Gallup, New Mexico.