Dennis Lopez to give lecture

ALAMOSA — The Colorado Field Institute will host a winter lecture on geography and linguistics in the San Luis Valley by Dennis Lopez.

The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21st, in Porter Hall, Room 130, on the Adams State University Campus, 208 Edgemont, Alamosa.

The Spanish dialect of the Upper Rio Grande region of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado is a study of the evolution of a language, as well as the preservation of the archaic forms of the language. The lecture by Dennis Lopez will explore the numerous invasions in the early history of the Iberian Peninsula that influenced the early development of the language, to the adoption of new vocabulary from the indigenous peoples of the Americas, to the incorporation of French and English words and expressions and culminating with the addition of the creative slang of the Pachuco.  This incredible amalgamation of language usage has resulted in a unique Spanish dialect that is unlike any other Spanish dialect found in the Spanish-speaking world.  This Spanish dialect of the southwestern United States is truly a valuable treasure that deserves further study and continued efforts to maintain and preserve its existence. 

This Spanish dialect is a marvelous example of the fluidity of a language as it evolves to meet the communication needs of the people; and as an example of the adaptability of people as they experience and express the world around them.

Lopez was born and raised in the small community of Capulin. Growing up, Dennis’ home language was the Spanish spoken by his family and the community. His parents also taught their children the English language because they wanted their children to succeed in school and in American society; a lesson learned by his father when he served in the military. Lopez attended school in the Capulin School District, and due to consolidation, he graduated from Centauri High School.   

Encouraged by his parents and teachers, Lopez attended Adams State College and earned his B.A. degree with majors in Secondary Education, Spanish and French. Lopez attended the Universidad de las Americas in Cholula, Mexico to further his knowledge of the history and language of his people. Upon returning to the United States he was hired to teach Chicano Studies at Alamosa High School. He then earned his M.A. degree from Adams State College in Secondary Education. 

After a successful teaching career teaching Chicano Studies, Spanish and French, he moved into administration. For a year while he was teaching, he commuted to Denver on weekends to earn his Educational Leadership Certification. He served as athletic director, associate principal and finally as principal at Alamosa High School.  After retirement, Lopez was invited to teach at Adams State College as an Adjunct Instructor in the Education Department. 

During this tenure he also served as the director of the Field Placement office and as director of the Title V program. Lopez was next invited to serve as the secondary school principal at Sierra Grande School District. Lately, he has been a co-instructor, with Andrea Benton Maestas, teaching the “Lifeways of the San Luis Valley” classes at Adams State University.

The Colorado Field Institute is a nonprofit corporation organized in 2005 to promote greater stewardship of the natural and cultural resources within the San Luis Valley. For more information on this event, email us at [email protected] or visit