A Southern Colorado pioneer is set to be inducted into the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame this month. Maria Teresita Sandoval, an early settler in the area, is being recognized for her role in founding the city of Pueblo.
Born in Taos in 1811, Sandoval moved to the area now known as Pueblo in 1841. Once there, she helped to create and run the El Pueblo Trading Post, which became an important economic hub for the Arkansas Valley and Southern Colorado and is now the site of the El Pueblo History Museum.
“The trading post provided an opportunity and a platform for people to trade goods [and] to stop on the way across the country on their travels,” explained Eric Carpio, Philanthropy Officer for History Colorado Community Museums.
At the time, the Mexican-American border ran along the Arkansas River, and the trading post sat just on the Mexican side. The area was home to a wide range of indigenous tribes, as well as Spanish and Anglo settlers, and Sandoval proved savvy at bridging the divides among different groups.
“She was skilled at that cross-cultural communication and established a legacy of cultures coming together, working together, and creating a new culture in this borderlands area of Southern Colorado,” said Carpio.
Sandoval will be recognized with the annual Legacy Award from the Latino Leadership Institute, which recognizes Latino and Latina individuals who made significant contributions to the history of Colorado.
Joelle Martinez directs the Latino Leadership Institute, which created the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame. She said it’s important to recognize the contributions of Latino and Latina leaders like Sandoval.
“You cannot be what you cannot see,” she said, “and I think that by telling these stories we let future generations know what’s possible, and to see ourselves in these extraordinary leadership roles really helps develop that confidence and that awareness.”
Sandoval will be recognized, along with five other inductees, in a ceremony at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 25.
Her story is also currently featured in an exhibit at the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo, which runs through the end of February 2019.