LAS CRUCES – Mark Chino knew he faced a monumental task – one best left to the professionals at New Mexico State University. Upon his father’s death in late 1998, Mark Chino inherited numerous documents and records 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,” said Mark Chino, a 1976 NMSU graduate. “All his efforts in his life were directed towards this goal.”
After years of reflection, Mark Chino and his wife, Selena, decided to donate Wendell Chino’s papers to the NMSU Archives and Special Collections in 2017. Wendell Chino is considered one of the most influential Native American leaders of the 20th century. century.
“The collections in the NMSU Library Archives provide very in-depth resources on the history and cultural heritage of southern New Mexico not found anywhere else,” said Dennis Daily, chief of the NMSU Archives and Special Collections Department. âWe have a responsibility to ensure that our collections represent the experiences and perspectives of all who have made their home in this region. Wendell Chino’s articles provide an important perspective on the history and development of the region from the perspective of Mescalero Apache.
The collection, now part of the Archives and Special Collections Policy Papers, consisted of 93 boxes of papers documenting the time Wendell Chino spent focusing on the needs of the Mescalero Apache tribe in areas such as the education and vocational training, health care, housing, support for the elderly, public security, infrastructure development and tribal courts.
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âGoing through the countless boxes of documents, pictures and newspaper articles, what surprised me most was the depth and breadth of the issues he was involved with,â said Mark Chino, who was a young child during Wendell Chino’s early years. mandate.
âThe collection will be of great interest to researchers examining Indigenous rights and autonomy during the pivotal decades of the mid-20th century,â Daily said.
“The decision to donate archival materials, especially those of a family member, can often be nerve-wracking, as donors have a direct emotional connection to newspapers,” said Dylan McDonald, political newspaper archivist. of the NMSU and Special Collections Librarian. âMark and Selena recognize that Wendell’s speeches, correspondence, files and photographs are of immense interest to others than themselves. To ensure that others have access to the materials, they have placed great trust in the library to preserve, care for, and make available the thousands of items that provide a glimpse into Wendell’s life.
âAs archivists process personal records, they get a unique perspective on a person’s life,â said McDonald. “In this case, while Chino spoke, wrote and testified in a very powerful and persuasive way about indigenous autonomy – often very publicly – it was the private correspondence he had with national political figures and indigenous leaders. that really caught my eye.
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During Wendell Chino’s tenure, the Apache Mescalero tribe built the Mountain Gods Inn and Casino, schools, hospital, health center, sawmill, and metal factory.
The work of organizing, describing and publicizing the collection is underway, but it is now available for researchers to use in the Branson Library Archives.
“Collections like Wendell Chino’s articles bring academics from across the country, and even outside the United States, to the NMSU to conduct their research, thus strengthening the university’s reputation as a research institute. unique in the southwest and border region, âDaily said.
âA lot of these materials, whether my dad’s or anyone else’s, are unique and cannot be duplicated,â said Mark Chino.
“Placing the papers at the NMSU also shows Mark and Selena’s support for the mission of the university and the library, which is to provide a framework for scholarship, training and education for all citizens. from New Mexico, âMcDonald said. “This donation is a testament to their desire to provide NMSU students with a world-class educational experience.”
To learn more about Wendell Chino papers, visit openstacks.nmsu.edu/the-wendell-chino-papers.