Ten years ago in 2009, a women walking her dog along the West Mesa discovered a human femur, what followed was the excavation of eleven women and an unborn child buried out on the West Mesa in Albuquerque. To this day the case remains unsolved. On Feb. 3, Street Safe a local organization that protects the health and safety of marginalized women who live on the streets, held their second memorial service for the women whose lives were lost out on the barren desert. The ceremonial leaders from Kalpulli Izkalli group-who focus on traditional medicine- led the attendees and some of the women’s families in a blessing. Here, Sylvia Ledesma, a ceremonial leader adjusts her headband before the invocation and blessing of the altar at West Mesa Memorial park.
Traditional curandera Denise Griego prepares the altar for the memorial ceremony.
Sylvia Ledesma blesses and cleanses the altar in preparation to lead attendees and the women’s family members in a traditional blessing ceremony.
Flowers and candles are displayed on the altar to honor the women of the West Mesa Saturday afternoon. The ceremony commemorates the ten years since the women’s remains were found.
A list of the women who were found on the West Mesa is displayed on a list on the ceremonial altar.
Denise Griego leads the attendees in the traditional ceremony which consisted of praying to all four cardinal directions.
Sonai Perez blows into a conch as part of the ceremony Saturday afternoon.
As part of the closing of the ceremony all members in attendance and the spiritual leaders bend down to the earth.
Augustine Chavez, carries a cross in remembrance of his sister Victoria Chavez whose body was found in the West Mesa. Chavez’ six month old baby was named after his sister Victoria.
Attendees of the event and families carry crosses in remembrance of the women throughout the park. The park will be built as a memorial for the women who were found buried there ten years ago. Although detectives had possible suspects a killer still hasn’t been found, leaving a lot of the families questioning and wondering when they will find justice.
Sonai Perez places flowers alongside notes left for the women on the park fence. Notes to the women read, “Mujer tu fuiste alguien. No eres nadie. Te queremos. Te extranamos.” Which translates, “Women, you were somebody. Not a nobody. We love you. We miss you.”
The ceremonial leaders walk through the park with families to honor the women.