Down to Earth Funding Proposal

DOWN TO EARTH: The Story of Adobe in New Mexico

FORMAT: 1 Hour Documentary

PRODUCERS: Cathryn Keller Nestor and Mark Freeman


BUDGET: $233,700 TO BE RAISED: $228,700

DISTRIBUTION: National Broadcast, Educational Venues and
Home Video


DOWN TO EARTH, a one hour documentary, is a history of earthen architecture in New Mexico, the meeting place of Native American, Hispanic and Anglo cultures. From the soil itself people have fashioned distinct ways of being in the world. Earthen construction is not just a building technique. Its formal and structural aspects cannot be divorced from its social, cultural and environmental functions.

The program examines the relationship between the built environment and the cultural traits, which distinguish each of the major communities in New Mexico. These include the role of religion, ritual and custom; the importance of families and kinship (including gender roles); and the relationship of the community to the larger society and to the natural environment. These concerns will be addressed as they are reflected in and symbolized by earthen architecture–vernacular and professional; sacred and mundane; domestic and institutional; traditional and innovative.

Native American architecture in New Mexico originated as a distinctly indigenous art form, a direct response to the American western landscape. Hispanic missionaries and settlers combined adobe and European architectural concepts. Today Spanish Pueblo Style architecture continues as a living tradition serving as the basis for thoroughly contemporary design and innovation.

DOWN TO EARTH will incorporate a variety of distinct voices.

Historians, folklorists, anthropologists, architects, archaeologists,
owner-builders, artists, community leaders, experts and amateurs, all will be heard from. It will illustrate the relationship between the earth, sky, mountains and desert of New Mexico and the telling details found in home and hearth, in church and public building.

A social history of earthen architecture is an opportunity to explore the diverse communities of New Mexico. DOWN TO EARTH is not only a record of outstanding architecture, but also a multi-cultural portrait.



Need…………………………………………………… 1

Sponsoring Organization………………………………….. 1

History of the Project…………………………………… 1


Audience and Distribution………………………………… 2


Background and History…………………………………… 3

Selected Scenes…………………………………………. 6

Funding Request and Workplan………………………………….. 8

Program Evaluation………………………………………. 9


Qualifications of Media Professionals
Filmography and Bibliography
Samples of Previous Documentary Work
Producers’ Resumes
Board of Directors
Financial Statement
IRS Letter of Determination

Letters of Support
The American Architectural Foundation
American Institute of Architects, Committee on Historic Resources
National Trust for Historic Preservation
American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers
US Commission, International Council on Monuments & Sites
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce
Institute of American Indian Arts
Albuquerque Chapter, the American Institute of Architects
School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico
Filmakers Library

Press Clippings


As we approach the turn of the century and the next millennium, the face of America is rapidly changing. In many schools throughout the country the majority of students are now from “minority groups.” There is a new awareness among Americans of the unique importance of our multi-cultural heritage.

The challenge of the 21st century is to create a society that recognizes and appreciates differences, while nurturing shared values and common goals. In many ways New Mexico is a laboratory for the study of cultural diversity. Here on the high desert plateaus Native Americans, Hispanics and Anglos live side by side. These communities do not live in isolation from one another. Sometimes borrowing, sometimes blending, sometimes resisting change, they have built unique social and architectural environments.

DOWN TO EARTH examines the relationship between the built environment and the cultural traits, which distinguish each community. These include the role of religion, ritual and custom; the importance of family and kinship (including gender roles); and the relationship of the community to the larger society and to the natural environment. These concerns will be addressed as they are reflected in and symbolized by earthen architecture–vernacular and professional; sacred and mundane; domestic and institutional; traditional and innovative.

Research confirms that no comprehensive audio-visual treatment of
Southwest earthen architecture exists. DOWN TO EARTH will be a unique and lasting record of this outstanding architecture, as well as a portrait of the multi-cultural life of New Mexico.


The Albuquerque Community Foundation in cooperation with Fine Line Productions (Haight Ashbury Community Development Corporation) will serve as the Sponsoring Organization and Fiscal Agent. The Albuquerque Community Foundation supports work in the areas of cultural affairs and education. The Foundation has a special interest in encouraging public participation in the conservation and preservation of historic resources, and has established a fund for this purpose in cooperation with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


DOWN TO EARTH developed from a body of work created by Mark Freeman, Producer/Director of DOWN TO EARTH, over the last fifteen years. This work is community based. It often examines the stresses of change and the possibilities of cultural continuity. Freeman is a regional filmmaker whose work is concerned with a sense of place. His productions are based upon close association with the subjects of his investigation. These communities have included rural families facing dislocation in a timber dependent region (MAD RIVER: Hard Times in Humboldt County), as well as Jewish ranchers and farmers on the Argentine pampas (The Yidishe Gauchos). DOWN TO EARTH, like Freeman’s other work, is concerned with making the life and culture of relatively unfamiliar communities accessible to larger audiences.

Initial research conducted to date includes bibliographical searches and filmographic research (including preliminary visits to the National Archives, the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History), identification of consultants appropriate to the project, and on-site visits to representative architectural locations.


Planning for the production of DOWN TO EARTH is supported in part by a grant from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities. Consultants for the production have extensive personal and professional experience with the contributions of New Mexico’s diverse cultural communities to the development of adobe architecture. (Please see appendix for a complete list of consultants.) As indicated by our letters of support (also see the appendix), we are working with a variety of professional organizations both in New Mexico and nationally. These groups will assist us in our efforts to make DOWN TO EARTH accurate and accessible to a large national audience.

We believe in the importance of multi-cultural productions, and are
committed to producing programs that meet the needs of racially and ethnically diverse audiences. We intend to incorporate the skills and unique perspectives of Native Americans, Hispanics and Anglos in the conception, development and execution of this production. DOWN TO EARTH will provide hands-on learning opportunities for student interns from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and other minority students.

(See attached letter of support from Kathryn Tijerina, President IAIA.)


There is great interest throughout the country in Southwestern regional history and culture. The National Museum of American History is about to install a major exhibition focusing on New Mexico. The exhibit is expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors over its ten plus years of display. From coast-to-coast, Santa Fe Style (and New Mexican cuisine) are adding spice and new accents to American life. DOWN TO EARTH will be of interest to a wide general audience. It will especially appeal to viewers interested in architecture, Hispanic and Native American arts and culture, and to students of Southwest history.

DOWN TO EARTH is designed as a one hour television documentary.
Television is the appropriate medium because of the highly visual nature of the material, and because television offers the greatest opportunity to inform the largest possible audience about the findings of our research. Other distribution opportunities include community groups, educational venues (schools, colleges, libraries and museums) and home video.

Distribution strategy includes a coordinated promotional plan and staged release of the completed program. Interest in the production will be maximized by a combination of festival screenings and awards, and reviews in appropriate journals and trade publications. A STUDY GUIDE prepared with the assistance of appropriate scholars will support the use of the production in educational settings.


Earth itself is one of the world’s oldest building materials. Today
more than half the people of the world live in earthen homes. One third of all adobe buildings in the United States are located in New Mexico. Earthen construction takes many forms. The most familiar is adobe– mud mixed with straw, shaped into bricks, dried in the sun. Earthen construction is labor intensive, but it has many compensating advantages: the raw material is free, readily available and requires little in the way of specialized tools or technologies. Earthen architecture literally reflects the hand of the builder. It arises organically from the natural landscape.

Earthen construction originated in the Near East in the Neolithic period about 7000 B.C. By 2700 B.C., the Egyptians were building the pyramids with mud bricks. Earthen construction was established in Spain even before the arrival of the Moors. In the Americas it was prevalent before the encounter with Europeans. The Incas of Peru, the Aztecs of Mexico and the Pueblo people of New Mexico all employed a variety of earthen construction techniques. Native American architecture in New Mexico originated as a distinctly indigenous art form, a direct response to the American western landscape. Today, Spanish Pueblo Style architecture continues as a living tradition, serving as the basis for thoroughly contemporary design and innovation.

Native American Pueblos of New Mexico

The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico are the descendants of the Anasazi, the builders of the largest cities and ceremonial centers in the territory, which would become the United States. Pueblo cultural and architectural styles are based upon patterns established by the Anasazi, although the Anasazi preferred stone and wattle to the earthen construction of the Pueblos.

At the time of the European encounter (1540), Alvarado, an early Spanish explorer described “…twelve pueblos, whose houses are built of mud and are two stories high.” In the same year Casten~eda reported that “…the houses are built in common. Women mix the mortar and build the walls.” The Taos Pueblo, continuously inhabited for nearly 800 years, is in many ways substantially similar to the communities first encountered by the conquistadors.

Native American architecture maintains an explicit relationship between the built environment and a cultural world view. For example, the genesis myth of Acoma Pueblo is “rich in architectural references emphasizing the role of women in house building, [and] the proper arrangement of enclosed and open spaces….(Nabokov). Pueblo religion recognizes the importance of perpetuating an harmonious relationship between man and nature. For Pueblo people, their homes are not objects, but are alive. Their flat roofed houses, like the mesas and mountains surrounding them, are filled with the spirit of place. The legacies of this tradition remain alive and respected in the Native American Pueblos of New Mexico.

Hispanic Influences

The Spanish colonization of New Mexico began a process of change and adaptation that continues today. Spanish colonists brought new techniques of earthen construction and new forms of social organization to New Mexico. Instead of puddling mud to build walls, the Spanish introduced wooden forms creating individual adobe bricks. Instead of the cohesive apartment-like complexes of Native pueblos, the Spanish built ranchos–self-contained family residences. Native American communities oriented their plazas (bupingeh “middle-heart-place”) to the mountains and natural world. Spanish plazas –closed rectangles–originated as parade grounds, places for military training. Spanish towns (for example, Plaza de Cerro at Chimayo) tended to turn inward, using a continuous perimeter of thick walled adobe as a defense against attacks from Apache and Commanche raiders. Yet over time these Hispanic plazas became the sites for civic, social and religious rituals.

1500 miles, a six month journey, separated the isolated New Mexican missions from the capital of New Spain at Mexico City. Franciscan padres were forced to depend upon native builders to adapt European styles. Catholic mission churches were usually built of adobe. But unlike the underground ceremonial chambers (kivas) of the Indians, which were part of the earth, these sanctuaries were crowned with thrusting towers. The towers seemed to lift the building away from the earth and into the heavens, an architectural symbolism dramatically expressing profound cultural differences. (“The churches stand forth in a scale that is neither human nor canonical, but military and hieratic.” (Kubler, p. xiii))

Anglo-American Settlement and Territorial Style

Anglo presence in New Mexico was very limited before Mexican
independence in 1821. For twenty-five years under the rule of an independent Mexico, New Mexico, for the most part, remained isolated and neglected by the central authorities. A process of rapid change began when New Mexico was occupied by U.S. forces in 1846. Anglo traders, Anglo law and the Anglo railroad brought new customs, new values and new technologies to what had been Mexico’s most isolated northern province.

William Tecumseh Sherman, the scourge of Atlanta, came to Santa Fe proclaiming that Mexicans would be replaced by Yankees –“a stronger, more vigorous and more determined people.” He advised, “Get rid of your burros and goats. I hope ten years hence there won’t be an adobe house in the Territory. Yankees,” he reminded his listeners at the Palace of Governors, “don’t like flat roofs, nor roofs of dirt.”

The differences between the Anglo and Hispanic worlds were substantial. For generations Hispanic life had revolved around extended families. Single story ranchos faced away from the street and were centered on private interior courtyards. On the other hand, newly constructed “American style houses were front facing and street oriented. The front yard was visible, accessible and more public than private. It wasalmost as if the Hispanic courtyard house had been turned inside out.” (Spears, p. 50)

During the colonial period (1598-1820) the Spanish crown had closed New Mexico to external trade. For Hispanics, commerce and industry remained largely domestic enterprises. Instead of building shops, Hispanics usually conducted trade from within their homes. For many newly arrived Anglo immigrants the most compelling draw of the frontier was economic opportunity. Entrepreneurial by tradition, and without extensive family ties, they looked outward to the rewards and challenges of public life. Taking the Santa Fe trail from Independence, Missouri they were eager to recreate the built environment they had found so congenial in the Midwest. They quickly constructed new homes, stores, banks, and railroad offices.

Soon, uniquely American notions of “progress” and a high regard for
technological innovation threatened to eclipse more traditional, Hispanic ways of life. When the U.S. army built adobe forts (e.g. Ft. Marcy and Ft. Union) they added glass windows and elaborate wooden trim to the officers quarters. These embellishments were seen by the neighboring townspeople and ranchers as the hallmarks of up-to-date construction. After the threat of hostile Indian attack was eliminated, homes throughout the territory began to open outward.

The arrival of transcontinental railroad in the 1880’s ended New Mexico’s isolation, bringing new materials and new ideas– profoundly changing its culture and architecture. Previously unbroken adobe walls were breached by additional doors and windows, as glass, hinges and milled wood became readily available. As Sherman had demanded, flat dirt roofs were replaced with sloping tin. Adobe was now perceived by many as just another type of building material. Its aesthetic and symbolic associations were in danger of being overwhelmed by rapid changes in attitudes and technology.

Santa Fe Style and the Pueblo Revival

New Mexico is the “Land of Enchantment.” Charles Lummis called widespread attention to the region with his 1893 publication Land of Poco Tiempo. “Sun, silence and adobe–that is New Mexico in three words…It is the Great American Mystery….Picturesque is a tame word for it. It is a picture, a romance, a dream all in one.”

Civic leaders joined “opinion-makers” like archaeologists Sylvanus
Morley and Edgar Hewett (Director of the Museum of New Mexico) to help create and define Santa Fe’s romantic regional architectural style. By 1912, when New Mexico finally became a state, Santa Fe embraced strongly preservationist architectural standards. This was an expression of concern over style and appearance. (The importance of adobe as a building material was of somewhat less significance.)

The effect of these new standards was to promote both civic identity and romantic aesthetics, and not incidentally to make the city a more attractive tourist destination. Ironically what was created in part as a marketing strategy has been transformed by the symbolic and psychological dimensions of architecture. Santa Fe–“the city different”–is in fact a community which has a distinct sense of place and local identity.

By 1915 northern New Mexico, especially Santa Fe and Taos, were
discovered by a generation of displaced “cosmopolitan” artists.
Escaping from the traditionalism and provincialism of the Eastern
seaboard, artists and intellectuals came west seeking the liberation of new vistas. These artists promoted their vision of Santa Fe style,
deliberately romanticized traditional Pueblo and Hispanic culture,
attempting to compensate for what they perceived as a loss of spiritual fulfillment in the modern world. They were alarmed by the rapid pace of architectural modernization which had swept over New Mexico during the Territorial Period. They believed that architecture should be simple, spontaneous and in harmony with elemental forces. Hand and rain shaped adobe emerged as a symbol of the creative spirit of New Mexico–the antithesis of the industrial age.

In the 1930’s architects like John Gaw Meem were creating homes and public buildings reflecting a massive, sculptural variety of the Pueblo Revival style. This was a period with a strong climate of social and governmental support for regionalism, and in New Mexico both art and architecture flourished. (Markovich et. al.)

Design control strongly advocated by the author Oliver La Farge and
Irene Van Horvath a local architect officially came to the Santa Fe city planning process in 1957. Yet today thirty-five years later, Santa Fe and northern New Mexico (like much of America) continue to struggle with issues of growth and development. Adobe architecture still offers appropriate responses to contemporary concerns. Santa Fe Style construction uses adobe, as well as other building materials, to create architecture that is site-specific, blending with the landscape. These buildings tend to be well-insulated and energy-efficient. Many use passive solar technology. Adobe construction which respects traditional values is promoted by many as the cornerstone of a bio-regional architecture.


Native Americans

  1. Today New Mexico is home to 19 pueblos and 60,000 Pueblo Indians. Taos Pueblo in New Mexico has been continuously inhabited for more than 800 years. Josephine Marcus a Pueblo woman in her 50’s describes her understanding of the origins of adobe: “Women probably thought of it. The men would have been out hunting. Maybe one of the children was playing in the dirt, mixing it with water. She noticed how the mud was drying. She added some grass. And when it was dried it was hard. So the women got together and made some bricks and put them together and made walls. Then they put some poles on top and laid some hides on top of that. And there was a house. Other people saw it and wanted one too. So that’s how the village probably got started. I wouldn’t want any other kind of house.” (Nancy Wood, Taos Pueblo)For traditional Pueblo people “being knee deep in mud, carrying buckets of it or patting the heavy gelatinous mixture into the wooden adobe-brick forms were very ordinary activities of our everyday life…I value tremendously the unselfconsciousness, and the absence of pretension, which led to doing everything straightforwardly yet still considered the context and connections….Most importantly, I treasure the sense of sacredness which pervaded that old Pueblo world. All of life, including walls, rocks and people, were par of an exquisite, flowing unit.” (Rina Swentzell, “Remembering Tewa Pueblo Houses and Spaces”)
  2. At Picuri’s Pueblo, twenty miles south of Taos, the process of change and adaptation is rooted in acceptance of “new traditions” only four hundred years old. Picuri’s is one of the smallest Native American Pueblos in northern New Mexico. It was the last pueblo to be reconquered by the Spanish (after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680). Here the church of San Lorenzo was first built in about 1776.Tom Martinez, a tribal elder welcomes and encourages a weekend volunteer work party. The community is rebuilding the church brick-by-adobe-brick. Volunteers have made 30,000 bricks by hand. Carl Anthony Tsosie, the construction foreman, explains, “We’re a multi-spiritual community. The church is just like the kivas (traditional sites of sacred Pueblo rituals).” The community strongly believes that, “if our ancestors could build the original church, we can build this one.”


Adobe construction is a long, slow, heavy, dirty process. Because it is prohibitively expensive to hire day laborers, adobe building was traditionally a family and community cooperative effort. Today, in the isolated mountain villages of northern New Mexico an archaic Spanish persists with words and grammar preserved from the 17th century. The legacy of this culture is preserved in oral traditions (folklore and oral history), as well as in the adobe homes and churches which still give shape and form to daily life.

In Truchas, Las Trampas and Chimayo life is bound together by family ties based on mutual respect and reciprocal obligations. The seasonal rhythms are set by the tolling church bell and the religious calendar. Here the Penitentes–a Spanish Catholic fraternity–continue to practice their religious brotherhood. They still ride into the mountains on horseback to collect a highly prized white earth (tierra blanca) for plastering the church walls. Women, (the enjarradoras), still are primarily responsible for the plastering of the church; while the men of the community, (the suqueteros), mix the mud, build scaffolds and keep the women supplied with wet adobe plaster.

Carmen Velarde–a fogonera or fireplace maker practices adobe
building as folk art. Carmen began to learn her craft at six by helping her grandmother. Carmen believes that the attraction of an adobe fireplace lies in its spiritual and emotional function. “It’s the heart of the house, the strength and warmth of the house….” Her Indian grandmother used to say that “rounded corners and rounded fireplaces would help a person get spiritual energy…. The Indian and Spanish mixed our religion into something beautiful–a combination of pagan artistry and Catholic spirituality…. My energy comes from upstairs. It’s not up to me. It’s up to Him.” (“Traditions Southwest” Fall 1990 pp. 8-10)

  1. Today many Hispanic people find themselves nearly priced out of the housing market. Trailer homes are now the only affordable shelter for many people. The high costs of both land and labor have forced some people to adapt their traditions to changed conditions. The possibility of increased self-sufficiency is as important as aesthetic concerns.Jerry and Elirra Garcia have converted a double wide mobile home into an adobe house. Using their own labor and working from their own design, they’ve replaced aluminum siding with adobe brick. For the Garcias adobe architecture is more than anything else a practical response to their need for affordable housing.


    1. “…[T]he strength of American individualism has made the private
      solar adobe home, and not the commune, the primary lasting achitectural form of the counterculture.” (Wilson in Markovich et. al., p. 188.) Back-to-the-landers staked their claim to New Mexico with adobe. Many were owner-builders. Constrained only by their imagination and their energy, they have built an incredible variety of adobe homes–homes with towers, and homes with grow-holes, circular homes and homes with lofts, solar homes and homes with communal baths, and always homes with fireplaces. Many of these home builders first came to New Mexico in the late ’60’s and ’70’s. Today, the homes they’ve built by hand are a permanent addition to the southwestern landscape.
    2. Santa Fe is an international village. Moving from Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, London and Berlin, people of wealth and taste have made Santa Fe their home. Outstanding architecture includes the Pottery House (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1941 and constructed in 1984), the Desert Flower home (based on the ancient Anasazi ruins of Pueblo Bonita), the traditional adobe built by skyscraper-architect Nathaniel Ownings, and the condominium community of Los Miradores built to mimic the communal dwellings of Native-Americans. This Santa Fe is a community of high culture, supporters of galleries, museums and the renowned Santa Fe Opera. Humble adobe born of necessity is here recreated as art.


We are requesting $25,000 from the McCune Foundation to support the goals and objectives of DOWN TO EARTH. These funds will provide approximately 50% of the direct costs of filming and will be used to match (anticipated) support from the National Endowment for the Arts.


* To increase awareness of the unique social history of New Mexico.

* To foster better understanding of the significance of the multi-
cultural heritage of New Mexico.

* To insure that the richness and diversity of New Mexico’s cultural heritage is not only preserved, but made accessible and understandable to communities throughout the United States.


* To produce a 1 hour documentary about the social history of earthen architecture in New Mexico.

* To distribute the completed program regionally, nationally and internationally to the widest possible audience.

* To create an educational tool for use by community groups and educational institutions.


The production of DOWN TO EARTH can be divided into four phases. The Planning includes assessment of resources– books, periodicals, films, etc.; identification of additional professional resources — scholars, architects, community leaders, technical crew etc. Pre-production includes visits to potential shooting locations and recording of research interviews. A detailed outline, followed by a treatment and final script conclude the pre-production process. (3 months)

Production includes acquisition of all program materials including interviews, documentary and archival footage. (15 Shooting Days)

Post Production is the completion of the editing and technical processes. (3 months)

Distribution follows over the expected 10+ year life of the program.


As part of a comprehensive fund raising strategy support for DOWN TO EARTH will be sought from several sources:

*New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities $5000 Awarded

American Independent Film and Videomaker Program (9/16/91)

National Endowment for the Arts Media Arts (11/1/91)

National Endowment for the Arts Design Arts (12/13/91)

Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium (02/14/92)

National Endowment for the Humanities (03/13/92)

Independent Television Service (03/16/92)

Andy Wharhol Foundation (03/15/92)

Corporate and Individual Donors

The success of the production can be measured in several ways. Components of the evaluation process include Reviews and Critical response (e.g. audience surveys, opinion leaders); Awards and recognition in festivals; Television distribution; Educational distribution; and Home Video sales. The greatest effects of the production are the most difficult to measure. It is attitudes and values which are most affected by an educational effort of this kind. This is a process which takes place unseen within each viewer.

Ultimately the success of the production is measured by how well it tells its story, how well it communicates.



LEGAL 2000



RENT 4800



VTR OP 3000
CAMERA & VTR 12000



OFF-LINE 11300
ON-LINE 19500
1″ STOCK 200
MUSIC 3000



DUBS 1200

TOTAL 233700



Mark Freeman, Producer/Director, is a documentary filmmaker with over fifteen years of experience. He has produced and directed, written and edited programs for broadcast on national public television. (For example MAD RIVER: Hard Times in Humboldt County was part of the PBS series Crisis-to-Crisis narrated by Barbara Jordan.) Freeman’s documentaries have received recognition at festivals in the United States and overseas, and have won awards including a Gold Apple at the National Educational Film and Video Festival, a Certificate of Merit at the Chicago International Film Festival and a Red Ribbon at the American Film and Video Festival. They are in the collection of libraries and universities throughout the country, and have screened at museums including the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History, the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art. Freeman concentrated in American Studies while at Lake Forest College and received an MFA in film from the San Francisco Art
Institute. He was nominated for a Fulbright Fellowship, and he often lectures at colleges and universities. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife and frequent collaborator Dr. Alison Brysk, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico.

Rudolpho Anaya, is native New Mexican writer who has gained worldwide attention for his novels, short stories, plays and articles. Novels include Bless Me, Ultima (Premio Quinto Sol), Heart of Aztlan and Tortuga (The Before Columbus Book Award). He is currently completing a screenplay (with Ricardo Lopez) of “Bless Me, Ultima.” Plays include “Matachines,” “Who Killed Don Jose” and “The Farolitos of Christmas.” Mr. Anaya co-edited Ceremony of Brotherhood”, published on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Pueblo Revolt. His most recent novel, Albuquerque will be published this spring.


Native Americans

Theodore Jojola, Ph.D., Director of Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Associate Professor of Planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. Enrolled member of the Isleta Pueblo. Professor Jojola will guide the production regarding the history and importance of adobe, as well as contemporary architectural issues in Native America Pueblos.

Simon Ortiz, Scriptwriter “Surviving Columbus” (Nationally broadcast PBS series.) Ortiz is 1st Lieutenant governor of Acoma Pueblo. A widely published author, Mr. Ortiz is a teacher and lecturer who makes scholarly, story-telling-oral tradition and poetry presentations in the United States and Europe. For DOWN TO EARTH Mr. Ortiz will undertake the research and development of that part of the narrative script pertaining to Pueblo Indian culture-community-land and history as expressed in adobe architecture.

Rina Swentzell, Ph.D., Architectural consultant in Santa Fe, NM. Native of Santa Clara Pueblo. Dr. Swentzell is an architectural historian. Her research interest is in the relation between the built environment and cultural worldview and values. She has a special interest in the role of women and children in adobe construction.


Robert Nestor, M. Arch. President, founding partner of Johnson, Nestor, Mortier, Rodriquez, winner of the Governor’s Historic Preservation award for the firm’s role in preservation of historic churches throughout New Mexico. Expert on historic preservation and contemporary residential expressions of regional style.

Chris Wilson, Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Wilson is an architectural historian specializing in the cultural history of the Southwest. His publications include the forthcoming The Myth of Santa Fe: Architecture and the Creation of a Modern Regional Tradition.

Museum Director

Thomas Caperton, Director, Monuments Department, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. Has supervised stabilization of ruins at 17th century missions at Jemez and Quarai, excavated pueblo ruins at Gran Quivira, and initiated an internationally renowned experiment in the preservation of earthen construction in collaboration with the Getty Conservation institute. He organized the third annual international conference on earth construction in 1990.


Stanley Hordes, Ph.D., Consulting Historian, Visiting Scholar at the University of New Mexico’s Department of History, and former New Mexico State Historian. Author of numerous publications on Latin American, Western and Southwestern history, Dr. Hordes has conducted research on the architectural history of New Mexico, for the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, the city of Santa Fe and others.

Orlando Romero, M.L.S., Research Librarian at the Museum of New Mexico History Library. Author of Adobe (working title), forthcoming Houghton Mifflin. A recognized authority and frequent lecturer on traditional Hispanic adobe architecture and village life, Mr. Romero is a consultant to the Smithsonian Institution’s Columbian Quincentary program and board member of the New Mexico Preservation Coalition and the Santa Fe Historical Society.

American Studies and Anthropology

Peter Nabokov, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin. Professor Nabokov is the author of Native American Architecture (with Robert Easton) and Architecture of Acoma Pueblo. He edited the Smithsonian reprint of Victor Mindelefff’s A Study of Pueblo

Architecture and has written “Adobe: Indian and Hispanic Traditions of the Southwest” for the Department of Energy. In 1981 served as principal consultant: Adobe Architecture for an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife.

Marta Weigle, Ph.D., Chair, Department of American Studies, University of New Mexico Regents Professor of American Studies and Anthropology. Research and publications in Southwest studies–the folklife, literary and social history of the “tricultural” Southwest, particularly New Mexico. Publications range from work on the Penitentes to the development of tourism in the Southwest.


Research confirms that no films systematically treating the social history of earthen architecture in the Southwest are in general use today. What does exist are generally short, outdated technical discussions of building techniques. (Sources consulted include the National Information Center for Educational Media, Adobe: A Comprehensive Bibliography, and the National Museum of the American Indian.) Representative examples:

“Adobe” 16mm 10″ 1953
“Adobe Brick Making” Super 8mm 4″ 1970
“Adobe City” 16mm 15″ 1969
“Buildings of Mud: Adobe” 16mm 16″ 1955

Selected Sources of Archival Material

Museum of New Mexico
National Archives
Smithsonian Institute National Anthropological Archives
Historic American Building Survey
National Museum of the American Indian

Selected Bibliography

Bainbridge, Bunting. 1976 Early Architecture in New Mexico.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico.

Huls, Mary Ellen. 1987 Earth Construction: a Bibliography of Current
Literature. Monticello, IL: Vance Bibliographies.

Kubler, George 1972. Religious Architecture of New Mexico.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Markovich, Nicholas and Wolfgang Preiser and Fred Sturm, eds. 1990 Pueblo Style and Regional Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Meem, John Gaw. 1934. “Old Forms for New Buildings.” American Architect 145(2627): 10-21.

Nabokov, Peter. 1986. Architecture of Acoma Pueblo. Santa Fe: Ancient City Press.

Ortiz, Alfonso. 1972. The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being and Becoming in a Pueblo Society. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.

Scully, Vincent 1975. Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance. New York:
Viking Press.

Spears, Beverley. 1986. American Adobes: Rural Houses of Northern New Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Swentzell, Rina. 1976 “An Architectural History of Santa Clara Pueblo.” Masters Thesis. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico.

Wilson, Christopher. 1983. “Regionalism Redefined: The Impact of
Modernism in New Mexico.” Mass 1:16-21.