Tibetans in New Mexico

group photograph


This section of the exhibition introduces the Tibetan Community of Santa Fe. With the exception of a few people who moved here earlier, all of the Tibetans living in Santa Fe came as part of the U.S.-Tibetan Resettlement Program, which began in 1992 to allow 1,000 refugees already living in exile in India and Nepal to move to the United States. A number of cluster sites were chosen around the country, including the Santa Fe/Albuquerque nexus. Initially a small group of under fifty, the community has been growing steadily due to the fact that many are now becoming U.S. citizens and bringing their families from South Asia to join them. The Resettlement Project is now known as the Reunification Program.

The photographs, taken by Santa Fe-based photographer Kitty Leaken, document the group from the day of their arrival to the present. The labels are culled from oral interviews conducted during the planning of the exhibition, and their purpose is to provide an immigrant story, a story that continues to unfold as Tibetans progressively adjust to life in America. At the same time, the Tibetan community is striving to keep their own culture dynamic in their newly adopted homes. You will thus view photographs and read personal statements that are suggestive of both cultural adaptation and change.

New Mexico is becoming increasingly multicultural, a fact that challenges the idea of a "tri-cultural" heritage. We hope that by getting acquainted with many of the Tibetans in the state through their words and portraits, you will leave with a better appreciation of the human diversity in New Mexico. More importantly, however, we also hope you will leave with a better sense of why Tibetans are here.



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