When the area that is now New Mexico was still under Spanish control and,later, Mexican control, the Native Americans from various New Mexican pueblos were given canes by the Spaniards and Mexicans as a symbol of their authority within the pueblo. Pueblo governors were elected and presented with the canes. These canes became an important symbol of the soveriegnty of the pueblos that was recognized by Spain and, eventually, New Mexico.
When New Mexico became an official U.S. Territory, five presidents (James K. Polk, Zacharay Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan) took office without recognizing the soverignty of New Mexico's pueblos. Abraham Lincoln, however, did recognize, not only the soverignty of the pueblos, but also the important tradition of the canes. He had canes made out of ebony and capped in silver and had these canes presented to the various governors thoughout New Mexico's pueblos.
Today, these canes are still used in ceremony and carried by pueblo tribal leaders. One hundred and forty four years after his death, the legacy of Abraham Lincoln lives on in New Mexico.