A Brief History of the American Southwest for Kids

The Children’s Hour is producing a six part radio, podcast and curriculum series on the history of the American Southwest for children, in partnership with the Native American Community Academy (NACA), NACA Inspired Schools Network, the New Mexico Center for Anthropological Research, and others. A Brief History of the American Southwest for Kids podcast, curriculum, and radio series will release in November 2022.

This program is made possible with the support of the New Mexico Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This series production began with “virtual field trips” for students that include expert interviews to better understand each time period. These field trips were monthly from March 2022 through August 2022. They can be watched in their entirety below.

The project is now in post production in creation of the six part podcast and curricular series, as well as an episode of The Children’s Hour radio show focusing on Southwestern History. Each podcast will come with a Learn Along Guide that will meet and cite national education standards (in the United States) for elementary and middle school students. This podcast series will be free, and available on demand for teachers worldwide.

We are excited to bring to kids everywhere the story of the place we call home: the American Southwest.


We begin 23,000 years ago at what is today called White Sands National Park with footprints discovered in the sands that tell a story of a mom, her toddler, and their journey avoiding a giant sloth.

Settling Down

For over 10,000 years, communities grew in the desert, with elaborate roads and structures that remain today. The complexity of Chaco Canyon’s architecture, engineering, and governance demonstrates the sophistication of the Southwestern cultures.

Strangers Arrive

In July of 1540, the Ashiwi people watched as a group of armed strangers – who turned out to be Europeans – came into the desert Southwest, on horseback, and with an agenda of finding the cities of gold they had heard were located in the desert Southwest.

Pueblo Revolt

The new neighbors had so many demands and harsh punishments, the pueblo peoples had enough and organized a revolt, sending the priests and other Europeans packing


Within two decades, the Spanish settlers returned to the Rio Grande Valley, laying claim to the fertile valleys to build haciendas, churches and towns, to be owned by the Spanish crown. This virtual field trip to Los Luceros Historic Site will tell the story


In 1864, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo making the American Southwest a United States territory where the land would soon be crisscrossed with train tracks and roads, with new economies of health, culture and anthropological tourism, as well as harsh and inhumane impacts to the indigenous people

More details ….

Episode One: Footprints

We begin at White Sands National Park, where hidden deep in the white rolling hills of sand, scientists discovered fossilized teenage footprints that date back 23,000 years, to the first settlers of the Southwest. We will meet David Bustos, from White Sands National Park who has been studying the footprints, and learning their mysterious origin. We also meet archeologist Mary Weahkee, who has spent a career studying these ancient ancestors.

Episode Two: Settling Down

We head to Chaco Canyon to learn about the Pueblo communities who lived along the fertile Rio Grande Valley. Joining us is Marlon Magdalena, instructional coordinator for the Jemez Historic Site, and educators from Chaco Canyon Interpretive Center, who will enlighten us about the rise of the Pueblo communities.

Episode Three: Strangers Arrive

When the Spanish came searching for gold, it was the people of Zuni who met the outsiders. On May 16 at 10am, we will meet the museum director of Zuni Pueblo’s A:shiwi A:wan Museum & Heritage Center, Curtis Quam who will show us artifacts from that fateful encounter, and tell the story of the new neighbors’ arrival.

Episode Four: Pueblo Revolt

After a century, the Europeans had created enemies of their new neighbors, so Popay was sent running from Ohkay Owingeh, beginning the Pueblo Revolt. We learn the story, passed down through generations, of how the Pueblo people sent the Spanish packing.

Episode Five: Colonization

But the Spanish returned, and settled into some of the most fertile agricultural areas of the region, creating sprawling working farms, like Los Luceros in EspaƱola, New Mexico. Meet the interpretive educators traditional hacienda, and learn how the new arrivals to this region became the dominant economic and political power, and how they kept that hold until the Spanish American War.

Episode Six: Nationalism

Upon the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Spanish American War, the Southwestern region became a territory of the United States. Over the subsequent 150 years, the railroads, then interstates, led to rapid economic changes in the remote Southwest.