Chapter 11: Gallup: Full of Life

The Great Plains of North America, according to Chapter 11, has the highest  percentage of elderly population barring retirement destinations like Florida, Arizona, Texas and other communities. Younger people are attracted to big cities because of economic, cultural and educational opportunities not offered in this mostly rural region. The relocation of the younger population has created social problems to the region. Healthcare in the area has suffered the most with the outer migration of the younger populace. With less people to service, doctors, veterinarians, and pharmacists become scarcer and the remaining population must travel longer distances to access care.  The closure of  churches, small businesses, and social services also negatively impact the quality of life among the growing elderly population. Contrary to the Great Plains, Gallup, New Mexico largest age demographic starts at 18 and over, accounting for 72 percent of the population. The median age in Gallup is 31. 1 years old. The aged 65 and older population in Gallup is comparatively small at only 8.9 percent.  About 25.1 percent of individuals age 65 and older have incomes below the poverty level in 2010.

Younger generations are promoters of change in Gallup and other Native American communities. “Idle No More” rallies to ensure basic rights are protected for the First Nations in the United States and Canada.

Idle No More rally movement in the city of Gallup, New Mexico.


1. Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

2.US News Money

3. University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research Economic Assessment of Gallup


Chapter 12 and 13: Water shortage and Population Expansion Expansion. How does this affect Gallup?

In Chapters 12 and 13,  two underlying  issues for the Rocky Mountains region and the Intermontane West is water shortage and rapid influx in the population. Rain shadow effects , moderate to extreme arid lands  in both regions,  and little to almost no precipitation in some areas of the region  ( heavy snow falls in  allocates most of the water for agricultural regions  ) has made water usage and distribution  for residential, agricultural and commercial  areas a very sought after resource. The rapid and numerous influx of people to some areas Such as Las Vegas, Utah, and  high urban developments in Colorado and Denver also impact the distribution of resources and  create environmental  degradation with many serious outcomes to the regions. Gallup, New Mexico belongs to the Intermontane region described in the book. Gallup has an average precipitation of about 7 inches, about 40 percent occurring between July and September. The population growth of Gallup since  2000 has increased almost an 7 percent.


1. The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization

2. Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

Drought in the Rocky Mountains.


Suburbs in Las Vegas, Nevada

Chapter 14: Gallup’s Long History of Poverty

Border colonia- Cameron Park TX

Chapter 14, MexAmerica, introduces the idea that rapid growth in the region’s economy is associated with the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which stimulates tariff-free trade (on imports and exports) between the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Some bordering cities with Mexico, have benefited the most from this agreement through the construction and operation of industrial manufacturing (maquiladoras).  However, the benefits have not been equally shared by all communities in the region, most especially Southern Texas. The region remains one of the poorest areas in the United States, with its residents located at the outskirts of the cities or rural areas. Many of the communities, called Colonias, have no electricity, sub-standard living conditions, poverty, inadequate transportation, education and healthcare.

New Mexico has long suffered from poverty as well, especially within the Native American population. According to a recent United States Census, more than 31 percent of New Mexico’s population lives below the poverty line, placing New Mexico ninth in the nation for having a population in poverty. Gallup’s native American population has high rates of alcoholism as well. Unfortunately, alcoholism in Gallup reached epidemic proportions during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The city of Gallup became known as “Drunk Town, USA.” Alcoholism is an anxiety-driven behavior that affects the Native American population seeking escape from high rates of unemployment, depression and marginalization. Within recent years, efforts from the state and local governments, as well as non-profit entities to rehabilitate and prevent alcoholism on the Native American reservations have made significant impact.

 2013-05-08 13_56_26-Na'Nizhoozhi Center Inc


1. Combating Alcohol Abuse in Northwestern New Mexico:
Gallup’s Fighting Back and Healthy Nations Programs

2. Albuquerque Business First

3.Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

Chapter 15: Lights, Camera…Action! Gallup, the Hollywood of the Wild West

As discussed in Chapter 15, California’s film industry is a well known entertainment hub to the world. Since the early 2oth century, California has become the center location for film-making and celebrities due to the mild climate year-round, as well as the beautifully contrasting terrain like beaches and deserts, grasslands and mountains. It’s this contrast in landscape (found in abundance) which permitted outdoor filming without the need to travel extremely long distances. Strangely, California’s entertainment industry is not the major sector of the 7th largest economy in the world (on average, only 2 percent of Southern California is employed by the entertainment industry), that crown is reserved for agriculture and natural resources, however, the entertainment industry retains major importance. The entertainment industry has given California the opportunity to create and project an image to the world unlike many regions in the United States.

california-hollywood-hollywood-sign-los-angeles-photo-Favim_com-457806_large       Gallup’s rugged terrains were a preferred location for filmmakers of the Western genre of movies during the 1940’s and 1950’s. The proximity of Gallup to the Four-Corners region, to the Native American reservations as well as vast terrain, were attractive features for Western movie directors. Actors  such as John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster, as well as the filming crew would lodge at the historic El Rancho Hotel, located on Route 66 in Gallup during filming. Some of the films made in Gallup and near-by areas are: Pursued (1947),  A Distant Trumpet (1964) and The Hallelujah Trail (1965).

The Hallelujah Trail (1965) directed by John Sturges. scenes were filmed in Gallup, New Mexico.


Pursued( 1947) directed by Raoul Walsh . Scenes filmed in Gallup. New Mexico.



1. Sattles and Spurs: The Great Westerns blog

2. The Gallup- McKinley Film  Office\

3. The Internet Movie Database ( IMDb )

4. Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

Chapter 16: Enviromental Movements in Gallup, New Mexico

2013-05-08 09_14_35-gi6302008.doc [Read-Only] [Compatibility Mode] - WordThe Pacific Northwest, as discussed in Chapter 16, is know for having an environmentally conscious population. However, recent population growth in this area has pushed for more urbanization projects that drain precious natural resources. The new pollution and traffic congestion are recent issues for these people who  are concerned with maintaining their beautiful land. Environmentalists disapprove of large scale cutting down of old forests that are unique to the area. Debate over more appropriate techniques for the forest industries is a sign of the struggle this area experiences. The main argument, if there were just one, involves trying to find a balance between preservation of the environment and modernization.

The population of Gallup, New Mexico is making sure that alternative, environmentally friendly actions are being taken to preserve resources. Efforts between community leaders and University of New Mexico, Gallup students to educate the population about recycled silver (Green Silver) which is made out of one hundred percent recycled or reclaimed silver, water saving techniques with rebate incentives, and less dependency on fuel have resulted in fruitful outcomes in a short amount of time.  Motivate, the campaign for a cleaner Gallup, is urging the community to dispose properly of recyclable materials and to engage in more environmentally responsible behavior.


1. Gallup Solar Independent web article

2. Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print

Chapter 17: Gallup’s Unique Flora and Fauna

hawaiian honey creeper

Hawaiian, I’iwi honeycreeper ( Vestiaria coccinea)

As seen in Chapter 17, the Hawaiian Islands have unique flora and fauna unlike anywhere else on earth. The isolation of the islands from the mainland has caused a rare biogeographic principle called adaptive radiation within animal and plant kingdoms. Adaptive radiation refers to the biological changes found in species of isolated areas that occur to fill ecological niches. In other words, animals and plants undergo biological changes to adapt to their available food sources. An example of such adaptation in the Hawaiian islands is the honeycreeper. These birds were once North American finches, but have since evolved into 22 different species that feed on different native plants and exhibit subtle variations of the beak.

New Mexico’s flora is one of the most diverse landscapes in the nation. Climate, land forms and low precipitation have created unique native vegetation, ranking it fourth in terms of diversity of plant species in the United States. All native plants in New Mexico have evolved over time to adapt to the climate and habitat of the region. These native plants provide a balance in source of food and shelter to the native animal species.


1. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-University of Texas in  Austin

2. Native Plant Society of New Mexico

3. Hardwick, S. W., F. M. Shelley, and D. G. Holtgrieve. The Geography of North America: Environment, Political Economy, and Culture. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print


Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Common yarrow (achillea millefolium)

My accidental encounter with Gallup, New Mexico, and the surprises along the way

During last Christmas break, my husband and I embarked on a new journey to an unknown land. We decided to leave beautiful, sunny Los Angeles for below-zero temperatures and snow blizzards in freezing Milwaukee,Wisconsin. In four days we traveled 2,013 miles and experienced the wonderful scenery and diversity the United States of America territory has to offered. Every city, and every state we drove into, had a fascinating story to tell if we were willing to listen. As we experienced North America, without the Hollywood magic we were used to , we became geographers in training. We looked for clues in the landscape, infrastructures, businesses, people, and even gasoline prices to try to decipher the untold story of the place.  Gallup, located in New Mexico, particularly caught my attention. I found myself fascinated trying  to figure  out the history, demographics, economy, and  everything about this city after an hour visit.

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