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  • Margarita E. Pignataro

Following the Manito Trail: My Wall in the Pat Guthrie Special Exhibitions Teaching Gallery

Margarita E. Pignataro

Latina/o Studies (LTST)

First Year Seminar (FYS)

Fall 2019

Visit to the University of Wyoming Art Museum

Pat Guthrie Special Exhibitions Teaching Gallery

Following the Manito Trail

Illustration 1: Teaching Gallery Wall Illustration 2: Teaching Gallery Wall

Label 2019 Label 2019

Following the Manito Trail

Highlighting an Assignment

In the LTST Spring 2019 course one group’s final digital assignment was on target portraying the Following the Manito Trail concept. I had access to the online film for almost two years, showing clips of the public domain YouTube video to other classes as an example of a Following the Manito Trail thematic film. The film shown supported the explanation of a migratory route from New Mexico to Wyoming and the presence of Manitos in Wyoming. The film shown, “A Hike to Querencia,” is no longer available; perhaps because a music tune, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” a song by Selena Quintanilla (not Selena Gomez, a singer very well known by the students), was used during the film’s Biodanza ending. Sidenote: It was one of my top three student films since it had the Following the Manito Trail theme and incorporated a Biodanza segment. Biodanza was introduced to this specific LTST FYS class by a special guest, the same empanada maker Chilean mentioned in a prior Following the Manito Trail blog entry, but that’s another blog to write. Nevertheless, I include the video project’s assignment guidelines.

General Prompt for LTST Spring 2019 Assignments

  • In relation to Latina/o Popular Culture themes discussed in class, students will produce an original creative digital piece 5-7 minutes using either Windows Movie Maker or IMovie or any film making program. Groups will be formed and each member will be graded individually. Students will develop a digital piece that deals with student's own understanding of ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality, specifically an understanding of one's roots in family, culture, and history. A rubric outlining the specifics of this project is on WYOCourses.


  • Creativity and themes. Express the topic(s) from the course, Latina/o Popular Culture themes, and also take into consideration students' own understanding of ethnicity, class, gender and sexuality, specifically, an understanding of one's roots in family, culture, and history in an original 5-7 minute digital piece. Example: Poetry, dialogues, drama, music, dance, reporting, interviewing other people on campus, newscasting or other.

  • A clear and understandable introduction development and closure to the topic(s) presented.

  • Introductory scenes/screens (title, cast members and advisory, if needed) and end credits (cast members names and roles —producer or writer— location filmed and year).

  • Group member appears in the film at least twice in two different scenes and interacts with other group members on film.

  • Relate theme to a current day issues and other national or international topics.

  • Upload the URL (weblink, preferable YouTube link) to canvas before designated date and time. All participants must upload to their own WyoCourse account.

Student Project: “A Hike to Querencia”

The digital project is a vlog, the viewers or auditors follow two female University of Wyoming (UW) students through the university campus, which was their Manito Trail. There were signs posted with arrows to direct the path. Along the path the ladies hear La Llorona, see her, wonder if she is ok, and continue. The character César Chávez, played by the only male student in the group, is on the path, has a basket of tamales, offers it to them, since he is on a hunger strike. As they continue, they met with La Virgen de Guadalupe, and the two hikers are given advice on female power. La Llorona gives the best advice which sparks insight into the connection between of journey and querencia: one must journey to find out about their culture and thus, querencia. This results in a conversation between the ladies about the love of place that they have, how it ties to the roots of family, land, their education, as well as relating FYS: Latina/o Popular Culture course material and theories to other UW courses they are taking or previous knowledge, and familiarity with the depth and breadth of belonging.

I am grateful for the permission granted by one group member, Anaka Austin, who played Virgin of Guadalupe, Narrator and Immigrant #1, and who wrote and submitted a script for the digital assignment. I’m fortunate to have that available. The students’ names are changed to numbers. Certain directions, instructions and punctuation have been added, and the following is a glance at the beginning segment of the script.

“A Hike to Querencia”

[Student #1 and #2]: Hey guys!

[#2 ]: Welcome to our vlog!

[#1]: Y’know, we’re just hiking along. There’s the cemetery right there.

[#2]: Wow, those gravestones are pretty dumb. Look, that one’s pretty small.

[#1]: (Notices La Llorona behind a tree.) Whoa! What’s that?? Do you see it?

[#2]: What the heck? Hello? Ma’am, can we help you? Hmm...

[#1]: That’s strange...

[#2]: Alright, whatever, let’s keep going.

[#1]: Alright...

(La Llorona screams very loudly.)

[#2]: (Turns back to La Llorona) Whoa, are you okay, ma’am?

[La Llorona]: You’re being very disrespectful to these people and their culture. You need to go on a journey to find out about their culture as well as your querencia.

[#1]: Okay uh...

[#2]: Okay, uh . . . have a nice day, weird lady.

(Scene moves to the Manito Trail)

[Narrator]: Hiking the Manito Trail, a trail where hundreds of Latin migrants had crossed many years before. The two girls had their own preconceived notion about Latinx culture.

[#1]: Hey guys.

[#2]: Hey, we’re on the Manito Trail.

[#1]: Uh, that’s pretty cool.

[#2]: Yeah, it’s fun.

[#1]: Whoa...

[#2]: Whoa, there’s this lady again... uh, hello?

[La Llorona]: I want you to meet these important figures in Latin culture so that you can understand querencia as well as other cultures.

[#1]: Okay, ma’am.

[#2]: Okay, umm.

[#1]: I think you need some help.

(The girls walk further on the Manito Trail)

Illustration 3. Annals of Wyoming:The Wyoming History Journal “Making Heritage and Pace on Trees: Arborglyphs from Latina/os in Wyoming” Spring/Summer 2017 89:2&3

Caption reads on page 116 "A carved aspen located in what appears to have beena sheep camp alongside Highway 70 in the Sierra Madres, Carbon County, Wyoming. Carvings include a number of references to the towns of Arroyo Seco and Taos, New Mexico." Photo by Troy Lovata

[#2]: Hi guys, we just saw the coolest bird.

[#1]: Yeah.

[#2]: It was big.

[Cesar Chavez]: ¡Hola!

[#1 #2]: Oh hello.

[Chavez]: (Holding a basket of tamales) I’m Cesar Chavez. I fought for agricultural worker rights to help preserve my culture. You want this food? I can’t right now. I’m on a hunger strike.

[#1 #2]: Um, no thank you...

[Chavez]: Oh, well, agriculture and food are part of my querencia.

[#1]: What’s a querencia?

[Chavez]: Ah, I gotta go.

[#2]: What is a querencia?

[#1]: Bye, see ya!

([#1 #2 alone on the trail again])

[#2]: Okay, that was kind of weird, but I think I've heard about Cesar Chavez!

[#1]: Me too, I think I read about him in a book.

[#2]: Yeah, I think I learned about him in school. Uh, he followed, like, Gandhi’s ideas of peaceful protesting.

[#1]: Yeah, you’re right. He seems like a-I wish more people knew about him.

[#2]: Yeah, I think he was the one who, like, founded migrant farmer workers union and got them, like, better wages, or something like that.

[#1]: And I think he’s a really big part of Latin culture.

([#1 #2] continue, hiking merrily.)

End of student script segment.

The trekking continues and then at the end the girls realize what querencia is, its structure and its definition and relate it to their world through the class materials and, of course, Following the Manito Trail. The following affirmation highlights the importance of researching the Manito Trail and recognizing their own families earth trail, their personal academic journey at the University of Wyoming and, as partly seen in the assignment, the U.S. Latina/o culture.

“You need to go on a journey to find out about their culture as well as your querencia.”

Following the Manito Trail

Directed to The End Goal

On February 7th 2021, my sister Juanita entered the living room after the Super Bowl ended and asked, “Did Tom Brady win?” referring to the former New England Patriots quarterback now present quarterback for the Tampa Buccaneers the team that played in the Super Bowl 2021. I live in Massachusetts, and some Patriots fans became Tampa Buccaneers followers, and although I am not writing a Super Bowl Blog, I am writing a Super Blessed one. I think of the success of the Following the Manito Trial project and feel that winning sensation as I share the stories in the class/zoom room. The stories are about cultural awareness, in our Wyoming world, and social justice as seen in "Riverton Project" a twenty-two minutes short about a barrio uniting and coming together for better living conditions, from paved roads to fire hydrants.

On 2/17/21, Dr. Trisha Martínez virtually visited my University of Wyoming course, African Latino Caribbean Literature, and spoke about the Manito Trial. The class had screened Black in Latin America (2011) by Henry Louis Gates Jr., and we had just finished the poem collection Querencias by Cuban poet Nancy Morejón translated to Homing Instincts by Pamela Carmell. Most certainly there is a distance geographically, however, highlighting querencia, traveling from a Caribbean Island to the landlocked states of Wyoming, Colorado, and the state from where Martínez joined us, New Mexico, I know that conversations concerning identity, home, and pages 52-53 in Querencias/Homing Instincts were relevant to Following Manito Trail.


No el cielo sino su sombra tumbada sobre el agua

No el mar sino su sombra hundida en las profundidades

No las arenas sino su sombra amiga

No el monte amigo sino su sombra dentro de la noche

No el fuego sino la sombra de su lengua metálica

No el viento sino el húmedo arco de las islas

No el fantasma de las casas abandonadas sino la sombra de

un trasmundo

No el todo sino su única sombra sobre una piedra única

No el sueño entero sino su larga sombra parcial

vagando hacia el comienzo de una breve quimera

Ninguna lengua sino el rumor violento o suave

de cada palabra

No la música toda sino el sonido inmemorial de un canto

fijo no en nuestra voz sino en la voz de una niña hechizada

por la mágica alfombra de la libertad

No el rayo del ciclón sino la sombra del relámpago sobre el


No la cascada sino su hebra de plata cayendo en el abismo

No el abismo sino el salto del equilibrista ya sin aliento

No la palma en la verde llanura sino su soledad a la sombra

de un manjuarí perdido

No el laberinto sino el grito de sus espejos

No el aguacero de los planetas sino la lluvia escoltada

por los vapores del verano

No la costa mojada sino la sombra del arrecife

en su espera sin fin

No en el puñal sino la sombra de su filo en tus ojos

No el ser supremo sino nuestros seres queridos

dibujando su propia sombra cada día

lanzando un ancla virgen al borde de un puerto cualquiera

de este mundo, a esta hora. (52)

Illustration 4: Querencias by Cuban poet

Nancy Morejón translated to Homing

Instincts by Pamela Carmell.

“Homing Instincts”

Not the sky but its shadow lying back on the water

Not the sea but its shadow submerged in its depths

Not the sands but their friendly shadow

Not the friendly woodlands but their shadow deep inside the night

Not the fire but the shadow of its metallic tongue

Not the wind but the damp arc of the islands

Not the ghost of the abandoned houses but the shadow

of an afterlife

Not the entire scene, just its shadow over just one rock

Not the whole dream but its long half-shadow

drifting toward the start of a brief chimera

No language but the violent or soft murmur

of each word

Not all the music but the age-old sound of a song

fixed not in our voice but in the voice of a little girl bewitched

by the magic carpet of freedom

Not the lightning bolt in the cyclone but the lighting’s shadow across

the stream

Not the waterfall but its strand of silver falling into the abyss

Not the abyss but the leap of the tightrope walker already out of breath

Not the palm tree on the green plain but its solitude by the shadow

of a lost manjuarí gar

Not the labyrinth but its mirrors crying out

Not the downpour from the planets but the rain ushered in

by the steamy air of summer

Not the damp coast but the shadow of the coral reef

in its endless wait

Not the dagger but the shadow of its blade in your eyes

Not the supreme being but our loved ones

drawing their own shadow every day

casting a virgin anchor at the mouth of some port

in this world, at this moment. (53)

What are our anchors in the world? To where does the personal compass lead? How does the light shine our paths, how do we follow, and order our steps and actions as we journey, emotionally, spiritually and physically, in the world, in relation to each other and breath? And how do we see beyond the path left, beyond the Manito Trail? It was an honor that Dr. Trisha Martínez accepted the invitation to visit the “African Latino Caribbean Literature” class in the Fall of 2020. Her visit and presentation emphasized that, sí, existimos, yes, we exist, and here are the stories. She showed that Wyoming is part of the Manito querencia, and so was belonging to the land, and longing for the trail of respectable living. The end goal of FTM is to share the stories, recognize the trek of success. Joining the Manito Trail, from afar, my return to Wyoming will be ever so gratifying as I intend to step on the path upon my arriving, should that be the blessing. Place Massachusetts on that mapping schema please, for if labels have no barriers, then loving special places in hearts have no boundaries as to where to feel that homing instinct. The Chilena Chicana, if I may, remembers fondly the first encounter with images, life stories recognized and shared experience, that vividly enter the Manito community. May my memory from afar be included. Thank you.


Announcement 2/17/21 for the African Latino Caribbean Literature course: FYI: Three videos to watch, as a continuation to the Manito Trial and Querencia topic, (the last one was mentioned by Dr. Martínez's in her visit today).

  • Song "Wyoming Snow"

  • Arborglyphs

  • "Riverton Project"

Illustration 5 Annals of Wyoming:

The Wyoming History Journal

“Making Heritage and Place on Trees:

Arborglyphs from Latina/os in Wyoming”

Spring/Summer 2017 89:2&3.

Photo by Troy Lovata.

The blog is a review for me on how land, culture and migration are distinguished when a story manifests in images, words, film and blog. I have traveled across the United States of America, mainland, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and have yet to travel to Alaska. In all the land traversed, especially where I have attended school (Hempstead and Stony Brook, New York; Worcester, Massachusetts; Tallahassee, Florida; Valparaíso, Chile, Florene, Italy and Tempe, Arizona) or where I have worked in higher education (Worcester, Paxton and Framingham, Massachusetts; Syracuse, New York; Walla Walla, Washington, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and now in Laramie, Wyoming) a connection and querencia for each location will always exist. As a pueblo, as Raza, as souls travelling the earth, we uplift each other in our communities and hopefully enlightened many in every place along our path. The opportunity to research and develop scholarship is a blessing. Thank you for allowing me to share my experience as I journey, leave and return and follow the grand quantity of migrators to Wyoming extending the project Following the Manito Trail.

I am still related to the University of Wyoming Art Museum and to the founders of the Following the Manito Trail project. This is only the beginning of an instructor’s perspective, regarding the desire and reason why Manito Tail is part of my University of Wyoming curriculum.

May we continue to shine brightly the stories of the ancestors.

Thank you for the opportunity to briefly share my experience as I follow the Manito Trail.

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