New Mexico is home to Asian Americans who trace their ancestry to virtually every country in Asia. This section includes some general information about groups whose cultural, ethnic, and religious organizations are well known in New Mexico.
Although the Thai-American community in Albuquerque is smaller than many other Asian-American groups, they are a close knit community and practice many Thai traditions.
Buddhism is the primary religion in Thailand and an integral part of Thai life. The Wat Buddhasothorn is Albuquerque’s Thai Buddhist Temple and the center of the Thai community. The Temple welcomes people from all backgrounds to join in the experience of Thai culture and religion. On the weekends, the Temple teaches Thai language classes and hosts a Thai Orchestra and Thai dancers.
The Temple also serves as a gathering place to celebrate Thai festivals throughout the year. One of the biggest festivals is Songkran or the “Water Festival.” Songkran, which is celebrated in mid April, is the Buddhist New Year. During Songkran, people pour into the streets and splash water on each other. This unique tradition is also practiced at the Temple during the Songkran Festivities.
Like Vietnamese Americans, many Laotian Americans came to Albuquerque as refugees in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Talin Market World Food Fare and the Limary Family
Bounphom and Phouthone Limary arrived in Albuquerque from Laos in 1976. Shortly after their arrival, they started making trips to California to buy Asian foods that were not available in Albuquerque. Soon friends and neighbors began asking the Limarys to bring them hard to find foods from California as well. The Limarys soon bought a van and started selling specialty foods from it. In 1978, they opened the first Ta Lin Market at Central and Wyoming in the Southeast Heights and four years later they moved to a bigger store at Central and Louisiana.
In 2004, Ta Lin Market moved into a new 30,000 square foot building and became “Talin Market World Food Fare.” Whereas the original Ta Lin Market sold primarily Asian foods, the new Talin Market sells food from all over the world, including exotic foods sold nowhere else in New Mexico. Additionally, Ta Lin Wholesale provides these same foods to many area restaurants. The Limary family continues to own and operate the Talin Market World Food Fare and Ta Lin Wholesale.
In 1992, a small group of Tibetans began arriving in the United States. Under a special section of the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress created 1,000 visas for “displaced” Tibetans to resettle in the United States. The Tibetans were settled in one of several “cluster sites” around the United States so that the Tibetan community would not be so dispersed around the country.
One of the chosen cluster sites was Albuquerque/Santa Fe. In the 1990s, 40 Tibetans came to live in New Mexico. As family members have come to join this original group, the Tibetan community has grown to about 50 in Albuquerque and over 100 in Santa Fe. Although the Tibetan community is small in New Mexico, they are very active (especially in Santa Fe), and often hold events to raise awareness about Tibetan issues and share their culture.