When something matters a great deal to a person, the interested party will go to great lengths - even relocating for a time - to participate. This factor prompted Jacquelyn Córdova to leave her Vadito home recently and head for Alabama to work on a project regarding horses. Córdova sat down at a kitchen table in El Prado to discuss the endeavor.
"The project takes place in Florence, Alabama, 10 miles from the Tennessee border, on the left side of the Tennessee River. I make documentary films, so through these circles, I have joined prayer circles and met many people," said Córdova. "Lyla Johnston introduced me to Yvette Collins, author of "Something Bad Happened" and "I Can't Find God Anymore," a compilation of her story and those of many women victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, etc. The sharing of these journals helped the women find God again." Córdova said she cried throughout the entire book.
Córdova soon learned that Collins hoped to create a horse sanctuary, but needed help to do so. Córdova, a Columbia College (Chicago, Illinois) graduate in marketing, realized that her skills could greatly enhance the program, and besides, she may finally use her studies to assist others.
According to Córdova, she wishes to dispel a myth about horses. Some believe that no horses existed in this area prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. Córdova said, "This isn't true. The lineages and origins have been traced to the Lakotas, Utes, Cheyenne, Choctaw and pueblo natives." The Sacred Horse Sanctuary Project hopes to preserve and grow lines and establish entire herds of indigenous horses. The necessary work includes the help of many volunteers to care for the animals. "Horses are a gift from God, a blessing. We must think of them as relatives to us. The Spaniards didn't want the natives to have horses because of the fear that they would flee," she added.
Córdova thinks her skills will help in building the story of the horse. "I'm a communicator," she said, "and that means hooking people up to help one another and get out the message. I'd like to help tell a story to people in China, Australia, etc., such as where the horse has been, where it is now and the future. People need to get to know things are happening everywhere. We all look for solutions on how to become better humans. We want to be helpful in the community, help others to heal and empower them. I'd love to come back home and do the same thing here," she said.
On a more local level, Jacob Córdova, of Taos Pueblo, began working with Indigenous Horse of the Americas Preservation Program, helping people to start their own herd. Many Taoseños benefited from the program.
Jacquelyn Córdova is no stranger to community participation. She volunteered for the following: vice president of Metta Theatre, "Taos Alive" radio show on KNCE-FM 93.5, SOMOS, the International Indigenous Youth Council and Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte. The 2012 Taos High School graduate first began interest in theater work through Pam Parker (Taos High School and University of New Mexico) and Bruce McIntosh (creative director of Metta Theatre). She especially remembers the final show of her course, "War," depicting excerpts from various wars. The production incorporated dance. She attended acting classes twice a week, worked in Metta's black-and-white darkroom and set up the website.
At Columbia College, Córdova studied photography. She completed two videos and plans to work on more. The first video, a minute long, introduced Sacred Way Sanctuary. Her description follows: "Over many generations, ancestors have been through many battles. We know our indigenous history as half truths. The truth isn't taught in school. By reintroducing the horse, we help reintroduce a new history. History is written by the victors, but how can there be a victor when the war isn't over?" The second video, five minutes in length, describes the Caretaker Project, featuring women who helped themselves and their families by caring for horses.
"I've always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. In order to determine what we're doing is right, we must ask, 'Does it contribute to society and the world?' I think that producing videos about special programs will contribute and help others," said Córdova. Plans call for Sean and Yvette Collins to work with the horses and for Jacquelyn to work on marketing.
When in Taos, Córdova enjoys spending time with family, working on acequias and with horses with her dad, Clarence, and her mother, Irene. She also likes spending time with sisters Jessica Córdova, 28, of Albuquerque, and Janelle Córdova, 27, of Vadito. "I'm the youngest, but the tallest," Jacquelyn Córdova said as she laughed. She's proud of her grandparents, Leandro and Manuelita Córdova, owners of a molino, a mill used to grind wheat and corn. The mill is on family property and a registered historic site.
Jacquelyn Córdova also likes the company of her cat, Fluffy Head, and her horse, Sierra. A frequent traveler, Córdova "stood up with Standing Rock," filming and assisting at the camp.
At home, Córdova likes to eat macaroni and cheese, beans and chile, Thai food and orange chicken. She enjoys reading, particularly "The Hummingbird's Daughter." Recent special books include the "Business Revolution through Ancestral Wisdom" and "Enriqueta Vasquez and the Chicano Movement Writings from El Grito del Norte." Córdova attempted to read part of the "Harry Potter" series, but couldn't read past the first chapter.
While Córdova works on the horse sanctuary project in Alabama, she will ponder her life in New Mexico. "I never knew my grandpa, but being by the water helps me understand the past better. I walk the fields he walked; I see the mountains he saw. I can feel him there," she said. "I expect Alabama to be quite different from home. Being there will allow me to help the horses and help others. It will also help me understand my community and myself."