Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

The Jewish-Converso Roots of Don Juan de Oņate

New Mexico History Museum

November 20, 2009


Santa Fe (Oct 26, 2009) – José Antonio Esquibel will speak on “A Matter of Persuasion: The Jewish-Converso Lineage of Don Juan de Oñate” at 6 pm on Thursday, Nov. 12 at the New Mexico History Museum Auditorium, 113 Lincoln Ave. The event is free and open to the public.

The lecture is part of a series in honor Santa Fe’s 400th anniversary and was made possible by the Santa Fe 400th Committee. The series complements an exhibition opening Nov. 20 at the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe Found: Fragments of Time, a historical and archaeological exploration of the lives of colonists and Native peoples who lived in and around Santa Fe 400 years ago. 

Numerous descendants of Jewish converts to Catholicism made significant contributions to the European colonization of the Americas. Among the most notable were Don Juan de Oñate and his political patron, Don Luis de Velasco, Viceroy of New Spain. Esquibel’s lecture will explore race, religion, politics, wealth and strategic matrimonial alliances as critical factors that influenced the lives of Oñate and Velasco and the early the establishment of the enduring Spanish presence in New Mexico.


A genealogist and historian, Esquibel is a native of Albuquerque with family roots in northern New Mexico. Over the past 24 years he has conducted extensive historical research of archival documents of New Mexico, Mexico, and Spain. He is the author of more than 100 articles and co-author of three award-winning books related to New Mexico history. He is co-author with Charles M. Carrillo of A Tapestry of Kinship: The Web of Influence among Escultores and Carinpteros in the Parish of Santa Fe, 1790-1860 (Albuquerque: LPD Press, 2004).

Funding for the Santa Fe Found exhibition and lecture series was made possible by the Palace Guard, a support group of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation; the Gala Opening Committee; Friends of Archaeology, a support group of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation; the Santa Fe 400th; and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation.

The New Mexico History Museum is the newest addition to a campus that includes the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; Palace Print Shop & Bindery; and Native American Artisans Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, 113 Lincoln Ave., is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit

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