Arthur R. Gomez
Regional Historian, Intermountain Region Support Office, National Park Service
Santa Fe, New Mexico
“As a graduate student, I consistently questioned the importance of my educational vocation. It was not until my career in preservation history began, however, that I came to fully appreciate the meaning of the word 'professionalism.'"
Art Gomez, a native of southwest Colorado, has worked for the National Park Service since 1982. As a public historian he has had numerous opportunities to research and write about cultural resource preservation efforts and land management issues that have contributed to a better understanding of the history of the modern West. As an undergraduate of Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, where he majored in history and Spanish, he developed an early appreciation for the Spanish colonial contributions to his native Southwest. His subsequent experience as a U.S. Air Force translator of Mandarin Chinese led him to the M.A. program in Oriental studies at the University of Arizona. He later transferred to the University of New Mexico, where he received his Ph.D. in twentieth-century western American history. His studies, as well as his early publications in the resource and environmental history of the West, prepared him for a career in the NPS, where he now serves as regional historian in the Intermountain Region Support Office in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Prior to his move to Santa Fe, Gomez was park historian at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in 1987–90. It was here in San Antonio, as he enjoyed his first glimpse of the stately architecture of Mission Concepcion, that he first recognized the awesome responsibility the NPS has to preserve and interpret the seventeenth-century Franciscan-built missions that characterize that city. Since his appointment to Santa Fe in 1990, Gomez’s work has encompassed a broader range of historical sites, issues, and responsibilities.
Related publications beyond his work for the federal government include Quest for the Golden Circle, an urban economic history of the Four Corners Region (reprinted in 2001 by the University Press at Kansas), and his most recent monograph, Forests Under Fire. He also co-edited a collection of essays on the forest and environmental history of the American Southwest. His publications and research efforts have led to a number of service awards, including the “Outstanding Achievement” awards from both the Southwest Regional Office (1986) and the Intermountain Region Support Office-Santa Fe (1998).