Jon Austria   The Daily TimesFrom left, Becca Stotts, Justin Tornatore, Johnny Merilatt and Devin Sutton, dance to the music of Celtica, a bagpipe rock
Jon Austria The Daily Times From left, Becca Stotts, Justin Tornatore, Johnny Merilatt and Devin Sutton, dance to the music of Celtica, a bagpipe rock band Saturday at Riverside Park in Aztec.

AZTEC — The Aztec Highland Games provided a unique opportunity for people of Scottish descent to learn about their heritage.

Eight Scottish clans gathered Saturday in Riverside Park during the third annual celebration to teach people about their past and, possibly, meet some of their fellow clansmen and women.

A book at the Morrison Clan booth listed different Scottish clans and last names to help people discover their clans.

Joseph and Michelle Hayes, of Farmington, and their two children -- Katherine, 5, and Aidan, 7 -- discovered they were part of the Hayes Clan when they first attended the games last year. This year, they returned with their children to keep their heritage alive.

"It gives them a little bit of contact with the older world," Joseph Hayes said.

Despite not having their clan represented at the games, the two children, armed with a "clan passport," went from clan to clan, collecting stamps and learning Scottish history.

At each booth, the clans had representatives and books to help tell their family stories.

Roger Moore, of Clan Muir, also serves on the games' organizing committee. When he attended his first games about 20 years ago, he learned about the Muirs. However, he was told that the Muirs were part of the Campbell Clan because the Muirs didn't have a clan chief.

"Everybody in the clan is governed by the clan chief," Moore said.

When Robert Muir of Scotland stepped up and became the clan chief, the clan reassembled.

Clan Muir is one of five clans that have attended every Aztec Highland Games. Since then, three other clans have joined, including Clan MacGregor.

On Saturday, Clan MacGregor proudly displayed a bottle of Clan MacGregor Scotch whisky and told visitors about their royal blood.

Jon Austria   The Daily TimesDylan Doskocil, left, and Christopher Hetherington have a friendly sword fight on Saturday at the Aztec Highland Games at
Jon Austria The Daily Times Dylan Doskocil, left, and Christopher Hetherington have a friendly sword fight on Saturday at the Aztec Highland Games at Riverside Park in Aztec.

Mark Beach, the New Mexico deputy chieftain for the MacGregor Clan, was one of the members manning the booth. He said the clan is one of the largest and oldest clans, claiming descent from the first Scottish king, King Alcon.

"We used to guard the king's cattle," Beach said.

Then, when the king could no longer pay them, he outlawed the clan from 1602 until 1774.

The clan took to the highlands, becoming known as children of the mists because they would descend down from the hills, emerging from the fog to take back what was taken from them.

"We were fierce warriors," Beach said. "We stood up for what we had."

The MacGregors weren't the only warrior clan present on Saturday.

Clan Ramsey also has various militaristic claims and is known for its stubbornness. Ronda Shackalford, a member of the clan, said they often describe themselves as people who "may be broken, but cannot bend."

The most famous member of her clan is Chef Gordon Ramsay, from the TV show "Hell's Kitchen." Ramsay is famous for his temper.

"I'm beginning to think that might be the general temperament of the Ramseys," Shackalford said with a laugh.

But not all of the clans were known for their military actions. Clan Morrison members have traditionally been judges and ministers. The former North American Morrison Society chairman, Jim Morrison, said many Morrisons still find the ministry an attractive career option.

Morrison said his clan is unique among Scottish clans because it never owned any land.

He added that the Aztec Highland Games are important because they help people remember their heritage.

"If we forget where we come from, we don't know where we're going," Morrison said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.