Folklore and Southwest

$39.95 hardcover

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Chasing Dichos through Chimayó

Don J. Usner

Winner of the 2015 Southwest Book Design and Production Award for Gift Book from the New Mexico Book Association

Silver Winner of the 2015 PubWest Book Design Award for Historical/Biographical Book

2015 Southwest Books of the Year

The poetic proverbs known to nuevomexicanos as dichos are particular to their places of origin. In these reflections on the dichos of the Chimayó Valley in northern New Mexico native son Don J. Usner has written a memoir that is also a valuable source of information on the rich language and culture of the region. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs that Usner, who is also known for his photographic work, took of the people and places that he writes about, this book is a one-of-a-kind introduction to the real New Mexico.

Usner has known Chimayó since he was a boy visiting his grandmother and the other village elders, who taught him genealogies going back to family origins in Spain. The Spanish he learned there was embedded in dichos and cuentos. This book is the result of Usner’s research into these memorable sayings, and it preserves a language and a culture on the verge on dissolution. It is a gateway into a uniquely New Mexican way of life.


Don J. Usner’s most recent book, Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico’s National Preserve, coauthored with William deBuys, also includes his remarkable photographs. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


“Northern New Mexico has its own, unique charm that Don J. Usner captures in his Chasing Dichos through Chimayó.”


Albuquerque Journal

“(In) Chasing Dichos Through Chimayó, Usner sought to capture the intensely regional Northern New Mexico Spanish as expressed through the sayings and maxims that still dominate the speech of the Chimayosos, an affectionate name for the town’s residents. With an observant ear for everyday speech, Usner re-creates the conversations of the town’s viejitos, or elders, peppered with the dichos that proliferate in the residents’ singular dialect of Spanish.”



Dichos—Spanish idioms—fill the pages of this book as they fill our hearts because, no matter the location or the linguistics, the language of humanity is universal.”


Southwest Books of the Year

“Usner reminds us that stories define place. His book includes stunning photographs and stories behind the images. Chasing Dichos through Chimayó preserves stories of the Plaza del Cerro for outsiders and Chimayó’s insiders to enjoy for centuries to come. Through it all, Chimayó emerges as a place of survival where dichos and the people whose lives they illustrate continue to thrive.”


New Mexico Historical Review

“Usner’s detailed and well-crafted essays . . . attest to the richness of language and culture.”


Western Folklore

7 x 10 in. 240 pages 38 halftones