Ever wonder that the old large building with a heading of S.P.M.D.T.U. next to Martin's General Store was all about? Well, now you will have a chance to know the history of this organization. On Saturday, May 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm the El Rito Library will be hosting a short lecture and booksigning. There will also be a table with information on how to sign up to be a member by local community members (Hermanos).
In 1900 Celedonio Mondragon and several other San Luis Valley residents formed this organization to help prevent the usurpation of Hispanic land ownership and to combat discrimination against wage laborers. The SPMDTU rapidly grew into a tri-state organization with sixty-five local concilios (lodges) in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Hispanic mutual aid socieites proliferated at the turn of the twentieth century, providing such services as financial aid, burial funding, low-cost insurance, and fraternal support. The SPMDTU consolidated relief and support services and became a powerful force in helping families survive the transformations wrought by the influx of Anglos, the federal government, and new technologies. In the early twentieth century, the federal government became the primary welfare service provider for rural communities, but the SPMDTU has survived in the Southwest, continuing its traditions of fellowship and support.
The book, "LA SOCIEDAD - Guardians of Hispanic Culture Along the Rio Grande" was authored by Jose A. Rivera who is a research scholar at the Center for Regional Studies, University of New Mexico, and a professor of planning at UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning. Rivera is also the author of Acequia Culture: Water, Land, and Community in the Southwest (UNM Press). Daniel Salazar, whose photos are featured throughout this book, lives in Denver, where he is a member of La Sociedad’s Council No. 7. Salazar is a media artist and regularly exhibits his work in galleries, arts centers, and museums. Jacket illustrations. Front: Portrait of La Sociedad founder.
The book will sell for $35.00 and royalties generated by books sales will go towards the El Rito Library and the SPMDTU Concilio Superior Building Conservation Fund (located in Antonito, Colorado).