Standing in the heart of the Aztec Ruins National Monument in northwest New Mexico, Chief Judge M. Christina Armijo of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico administered the Oath of Allegiance this month to ten new citizens of the United States. The ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the remains of Pueblo structures built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Great Kiva at the Aztec Ruins Monument, in which the naturalization ceremony was held, is the largest fully constructed kiva, or Pueblo ceremonial center, in North America.
Participants in the day’s naturalization ceremony came from Canada, Ecuador, Honduras, Germany and Mexico. “With the privileges of citizenship that now bind us, so too come the responsibilities that each of us must acknowledge and undertake,” Chief Judge Armijo told them. “We are all part of the solution to the challenges that may confront us throughout life’s journey.”
Armijo, who can trace her own family back to the Spanish Colonial period in the American Southwest, shared her grandmother’s memories of the events surrounding New Mexico’s entry into the Union in 1912, as the 47th state.
“These are my grandmother’s recollections about how she and her family celebrated becoming full-fledged citizens,” Armijo said. “Each of you honors us by joining us at this time in our history. . .I know you and your families will establish proud and deep roots in our great State of New Mexico – a state that is respectful of its traditions and the wisdom of elders and whose people are as diverse as the beautiful landscape. . .”
Joining Armijo were keynote speaker Larry Tuck, Acting Superintendent of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and special speaker, Cliff Spencer, Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park. Naturalization ceremonies frequently feature community groups and school bands and at the Aztec Ruins ceremony, the Aztec High School JROTC Tiger Battalion presented the colors, and traditional dances were performed by the Pueblo of Acoma Haak’u Buffalo Dancers. The Aztec Ruins National Monument hosted the day’s ceremony and presented each new U.S. citizen with a commemorative coin and bandana.
To see a U.S. Courts video, including event footage provided by the District of New Mexico, click here.