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Counterculture History in New Mexico: A New Exhibit

The American counterculture movement is primarily associated with the West Coast, but New Mexico and the Southwest United States played a major role in this societal transformation. The Land of Enchantment has a story to tell about how the counterculture era from the Beat Generation to the hippies and from the Summer of Love to the disco era.


Fifty years after Woodstock, the New Mexico History Museum has put together a special exhibition that highlights how the counterculture revolution shaped the state for decades to come. According to a news report published by the Albuquerque Journal, the rural hippie communes established in New Mexico in the 1960s are an important focus of Be Here Now: Summer of Love Santa Fe, an exhibit that started on May 17 and is scheduled to run for the next 10 months.


What is interesting about the counterculture movement in New Mexico is that it has come full circle with environmental protection and awareness about issues such as climate change. In 1962, for example, Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book that stands as the first unmasking about the dangerous use of pesticides. Whereas other parts of the country were focused on the sexual revolution, rock ā€˜nā€™ roll, psychedelics, and protests against the establishment, radical New Mexicans decided to channel their efforts towards conserving Nature.


Another crucial aspect of counterculture in New Mexico revolves around understanding and celebration of the Native American experience. The Taos Pueblo people, for example, got along with the hippies who lived in nearby communes due to common interests such as respecting Mother Earth and using psychedelics for ritualistic purposes. Five decades later, military veterans stood next to the Lakota Sioux people as they opposed the construction of an oil pipeline project that ran contrary to Native American beliefs about Nature.


In terms of music, two contributions from New Mexico to the counterculture movement include the hippie rock band Tusker as well as the Fe-Fi-Four Plus 2, an experimental music group that played psychedelic rock and opened for major acts such as the Yardbirds and the Mysterians.


The counterculture exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum started off with a lecture by poet Gary Snyder. The admission fee is the standard $12 charged by the Museum.


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