History •  New Mexico and Southwest

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New Mexico's Spanish Livestock Heritage: Four Centuries of Animals, Land, and People

William W. Dunmire

This survey of the history of livestock in New Mexico is the first of its kind, going beyond cowboy culture to examine the ways Spaniards, Indians, and Anglos used domestic animals and how those uses affected the region’s landscapes and cultures. Dunmire mines the observations of travelers and the work of earlier historians and other scholars to provide a history of livestock in New Mexico from 1540 to the present. He includes general background on animal domestication in the Old World and the New during pre-Columbian times, along with specific information on each of the six livestock species brought to New Mexico by the early Spanish colonists.


William W. Dunmire is a retired National Park Service naturalist and is currently an associate in biology at the University of New Mexico and a research associate at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.


“Weave(s) the interesting dynamics of cultural phenomena and peoples, both native (Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache) and immigrant (Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo), with land and livestock.”



“Life and environment in New Mexico have been indelibly altered by livestock. Dunmire’s book is the first to offer a history of the use and effects of the full range of domesticated animals in the state. It raises many important questions and gives us a jumping-off place for exploring them.”


Richard Flint, author of No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada

“Just as he opened new vistas with his award-winning Gardens of New Spain, Bill Dunmire has written a groundbreaking new book on the history of livestock in New Mexico. Dunmire’s books remind us that the fates of plants, animals, and humans are continually intertwined on this small, vulnerable corner of planet earth.”


Richard Melzer, author of New Mexico: Celebrating the Land of Enchantment

“Richly detailed and informative. . . . Dunmire demonstrates the centrality of livestock to Spanish colonization, trade, intertribal relations, and conflicts between Spaniards and Native Americans.”


New Mexico Historical Review

6 x 9 in. 248 pages 47 halftones, 2 maps, 2 tables