A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Editorial: Redistributing the Wealth By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews
Update on Miranda Canyon Preserve Proposal By Kay Matthews
Activism and the Local Nuclear Weapons Industry By Sheri Kotowski
Literary Radio Dreams By Deborah Begel
The Hijuelas of Tierra Amarilla By David Correia
By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews
In 1848 Karl Marx wrote, "Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the netherworld whom he has called by his spells. . . . It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. . . . And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? . . . by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented."
Fast forward to 2008. Marx's words are being bourne out by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. But it could have been the collapse of any unregulated market - retirement accounts, junk bonds, life insurance policies. The intent of these markets is not to generate goods and services that have intrinsic value - food, shelter, health care, and education - but to increase the wealth of capitalists, which in this country has created the greatest disparity between the rich and poor in the entire industrialized world. The wealthiest one per cent of the population owns more than the bottom 95 per cent.
The U.S. government, which is hard to distinguish from the corporations, sets the policies that allow this continued accumulation of wealth. The tax structure in the U.S., particularly since the advent of Reaganomics in the 1980s, has channeled money from social services into the pockets of the wealthy. According to University of Vermont professor Huck Gutman, "[In 2002] The wealthiest one per cent of the population raked in 52 per cent of the tax benefits . . . divert[ing] an astounding $500 billion out of federal coffers and into the bank accounts of those who earn over $375,000 a year. Diverting this money to the wealthy has moved the U.S. government into deficit. Accordingly, the president and his republican allies in the Congress are loathe to provide money for education, housing, health care, and other services which working people and the poor depend on."
Election day has come and gone. During the campaign, the presidential candidates laid out their solutions for saving our capitalist economy. While Barack Obama's New Deal type policies-taxing the rich, extending unemployment benefits, and improving American infrastructure - may provide some temporary relief, we believe it is only putting a finger in the dike. The capitalists are already chomping at the bit: Goldman Sachs, Obama's biggest corporate campaign contributor, has set aside $11.4 billion for senior partner bonuses. Ironically, the government just gave Goldman Sachs $10 billion of the $700 billion bailout that Obama voted for. Billionaire Steve Forbes is claiming that "the current crisis was not the failure of free markets but the outcome of bad government actions." In a capitalist economy, who can tell the difference?
We believe that without fundamental change in our economic and social systems, which demands that goods and services like food, shelter, health care, and education are inalienable rights, not privileges, we're perpetuating the old inequities and class distinctions. Moreover, we must end our imperialist foreign policy that contributes to global "terrorism" and third world exploitation and siphons untold billions of dollars into the military industrial complex.
Democrats and Republicans alike disparage socialism, but the people of northern New Mexico have a history of land-based, communal economics that looks a lot like socialism to us: knowing the real value of labor by the products that labor provides and sharing the wealth by working together as communities. Obama campaigned on a platform of "redistribution of wealth" but his very first appointment was Rahm Emanuel, the man who engineered NAFTA and Clinton's draconian welfare reform program. The left's work is obvious but herculean: hold Obama accountable.
By Kay Matthews
La Jicarita News has been covering the Miranda Canyon Preserve, an upscale subdivision proposed by the Weimer family on part of the former La Cristobal de la Serna Land Grant, since it was first put forward in 2005 (see La Jicarita News, October 2005). The proposal seeks to subdivide a 5,100-acre parcel into 150 residential lots ranging in size from 10 to 30 acres, two open space lots, one campground lot, one maintenance lot, one community center lot, one equestrian stable boarding lot, and one owner retained lot of 844 acres.
In the September issue of La Jicarita we highlighted a review of the Miranda Canyon Preserve by a local environmental group, Wildlands Watch. Todd Barbee, Project Manager for the Preserve, was very unhappy that La Jicarita was the messenger for the largely unfavorable assessment by Wildlands Watch. He claimed that the group trying to pass its review off as a professional Environmental Impact Review, equating it with government sanctioned EIRs or Environmental Impact Statements, and that its author, Carol Rosendahl, has no "professionally credentialed standing." La Jicarita News covered the group's review as it would any other opinion regarding the proposed subdivision, which is a major development that will impact Taos and the surrounding area. Barbee also pointed out that the statement in the review that the majority of the Taos County municipal watershed lies within the proposed development was erroneous. He is correct. It was a mistaken paraphrase of Wildlands Watch's claim that the property "contains the headwaters of a large, important Taos County municipal watershed."
In the September issue we also cited Taos County Planner Edward Vigil, who is reviewing the Miranda Canyon Preserve application. He told us that the application had been "deemed incomplete" by the Office of the State Engineer (OSE), Taos Soil and Water Conservation District, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs (as part of the review process the application is sent to all agencies that oversee the various concerns the proposal must address).
The New Mexico Office of Cultural Affairs noted that its office had met with Project Manager Barbee to discuss the fact that a cultural survey will be conducted as a condition of final plat approval, and that the survey will be a 100 percent inventory of all common areas by the developer or home owners association and a stratified sample of the house lots, which will be paid for by the home owners. The Office also acknowledged that the historic Camino Real runs along the eastern border of the subdivision and may enter and exit it at various points. While this northern part of the Camino Real is not listed on the State Historic Register, it may well be considered for inclusion in the future and needs to be surveyed.
The Department of Transportation wanted clarification of information the proposal submitted regarding traffic patterns in the subdivision entrance in Llano Quemado, asking for an "explanation of the trip distribution methodology." The entrance to the subdivision is through Llano Quemado while three proposed egress routes at the south end of the subdivision are through national forest lands. A Special Use Permit must be acquired from the Forest Service.
Taos Soil and Water and the OSE submitted the most substantive concerns. The OSE estimates that the total maximum water demand, including 157 lots, is estimated to be 46.72 acre feet per year (based on .3 afy per lot). In the OSE letter it states, "Based on the information provided, this office cannot determine that the subdivider can furnish water sufficient in quantity to fulfill the maximum annual water requirements of the subdivision, including water for indoor and outdoor domestic uses, and that the subdivider can fulfill the proposals in his disclosure statement concerning water, excepting water quality. Accordingly, a negative opinion is issued."
The primary problem appears to be that although sufficient groundwater exists beneath the subdivision, the aquifer tests indicate that in certain areas some wells may produce less than three gallons per minute. This is not in compliance with subdivision regulations that stipulate the subdivider must submit a geohydrologic report that demonstrates "the maximum annual water requirement of the subdivision is physically available from the aquifer to be utilized and can be practically recovered to sustain the development for a continuous period of fifty (50) years." The OSE Hydrology Bureau reviewed the geologic information pertinent to the proposal and states that "some of the lots may be entirely located on low permeability materials that would not support a domestic well." It goes on to say that the developer should "communicate in the Disclosure Statement that low yielding wells are a possibility and make recommendations for facilities to compensate for the [these] wells."
Taos Soil and Water's review of the proposal deals mainly with Terrain Management and the Fire Plan. Peter Vigil, District Manager, stated in his letter that the "proposed plan, as written, does not meet and conform to County Code requirements with respect to Terrain Management." His concerns center on several soil types within the subdivision that have "severe limitations" and are unsuitable for their intended purpose. The developer does not show how these limitations are to be overcome. Other concerns include the lack of information regarding natural drainages, grading operations, retention or replacement of native vegetation, prevention of sediment deposits, and disposal of vegetation.
The Fire Plan and Prevention section of the letter primarily questions whether the subdivider has complied with several Taos County subdivision requirements that pertain to fire prevention. These include driveway requirements (many of the driveways appear to exceed the 12 per cent maximum grade stipulated in the regulations), and the location of water sources not more than 1,000 feet from buildings.
The project manager responded to the concerned agencies in September and October, and the agencies have 30 days in which to address these responses. Peter Vigil of Taos Soil and Water told La Jicarita that the 30-day requirement doesn't allow his agency adequate time to review the developer's response. The review of large subdivision proposals such as the Miranda Canyon Preserve place a "tremendous burden on agencies that have neither the time nor the personnel to commit to the work needed," Vigil said. He expressed concern that the subdivision is designed on the idea of ranchettes instead of cluster development, which requires fewer roads and has a smaller "footprint" on the land.
La Jicarita will follow up on these responses in the next issue.
By Sheri Kotowski
With the support of community members, tribal and state government, and local organizations, the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group (EVEMG) has successfully established independent, citizen-based monitoring in the Rio Embudo Watershed for radionuclides and heavy metals associated with the nuclear weapons industry at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The impetus for this monitoring began one and a half years after the plume of the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000 settled over our watershed, when community members began asking questions concerning the effects of exposure to the plume of that fire. The fire burned a total of 45,000 acres of land, including 7,500 acres of LANL property known to be contaminated by past and on-going LANL activities. The unsatisfactory answer to our questions was there was no harm done to our communities by the fire. Many asked about the basis for that assessment. The answer was admittedly insufficient and flawed data. Many then asked, what could be done after the fact? "Nothing" was the official answer because there was insignificant background data to show any difference in local conditions pre-fire and post-fire. The database we have now built provides a scientifically sound baseline for radioactivity that will benefit surrounding communities in the event of radioactive releases, either accidental or because of LANL activities.
After a series of dismal and frustrating meetings held in Dixon, people from the lower and the upper watershed came together to strategize on a plan to actively protect the watershed. While working directly with Picuris Pueblo and the Picuris/Peñasco Community Coalition, EVEMG was loosely formed. We brought our concerns to the Community Radiation Monitoring Group (CRMG). CRMG is a monthly public forum facilitated by the New Mexico Environment Department's (NMED) LANL Oversight Bureau. The Oversight Bureau is the state's watchdog for environmental surveillance at LANL. Participants in the forum include NMED, tribal governments, LANL, community organizations, and individuals. The CRMG mission is "To understand and communicate public health issues relating to direct penetrating radiation and radiation from airborne radioactive materials that result from activities at LANL." Through CRMG, EVEMG identified needs and developed technical air monitoring plans with NMED and LANL. We now work with other local groups we've met through CRMG that share our concerns about LANL air-borne contamination, and we continue to raise community awareness about these issues. Through on-going participation in CRMG, multi-layered relationships have been fostered, and many other issues related to air-borne contamination such as prescribed burning on lab property, open burning and open detonation practices, and emergency preparedness have been raised for public input and participation. Not only are these meetings informational, they provide and inspire an avenue for activism.
Topical issues brought forward by participants are the focus of the monthly public forums. Meetings generally rotate between Española and White Rock, with annual meetings in communities such as Santa Fe and in the Rio Embudo Watershed, in Dixon or at Picuris Pueblo.
The latest concern is the 2007 EVEMG/NMED collaborative sampling project that found exceptional levels of cesium, plutonium, and strontium in a single soil sample taken at the top of the watershed near Las Trampas Lakes. These are dangerous radioactive materials generated predominantly by the research, manufacturing, and testing of nuclear weapons. This detection, together with the indoor residential dust survey (2006) finding of strontium at a local residence in Llano, are issues that need community support for a strategy developed by local, independent, and agency experts.
For more information please contact:
Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group
P.O. Box 291 Dixon, NM 87527
The November meeting of CRMG will be held at Picuris Pueblo just after La Jicarita News goes to press. The paper will cover the meeting and also participate with local community members who are working with EVEMG on air monitoring. Other members of the El Valle community, where the paper is based, will also attend the meeting to discuss the need to set up an air monitoring station in our village. We are also concerned that El Valle is in the Las Trampas Watershed, where, as Sheri stated in her article, elevated levels of cesium, plutonium, and strontium were found in a soil sample near Las Trampas Lakes, at an 11,000 foot elevation.
By Deborah Begel
Ever since I recorded students for a series of fourteen half hour programs called Rural Voices Radio (nwp.org/r/rvr), a dream gripped my heart. What if the same production team of host Kim Stafford, Sound Designer Stephen Erickson, and I invited emerging writers to contribute to a new radio series that would arrive weekdays or weekly like cookie dough dropped in spoonfuls on a sizzling baking sheet?
I imagined our literary cookies to be like Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, but with a twist. Rather than present established writers, we'd limit our scope to talented newcomers. We'd condense narration and summon a single instrument to underscore the readings, grouping poems by subject. A title beckoned: Calling America: Give Us Your Stories, Poems, and Essays.
After we got some funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, I took out an ad in Poets & Writers magazine. I was astonished to receive more than 400 entries on love, adventure, reflections on farm life, addressing clutter, old age, youthful fantasies, family legends, and even jobs, as in this excerpt of "The Cane Cutters" by Juliet S. Kono:
The man takes out two long knives
They sparkle in the careless light
He fingers each honed edge and tenderly caresses the sharpness
Pleased he hands one to his wife
Together they work the tall burnt fields long into the tiring hours
They sing and they dream to the pendulum swing of machetes
I recorded rising actors reading the new selections in New York City and Albuquerque, along with musicians on a variety of instruments. The National Writing Project, which produced Rural Voices Radio, granted us permission to incorporate recordings previously not used. Now we're distributing the series to public radio stations.
Given that our recipe for the production of 21 segments (up to 4 minutes each) began with a dream, it seems fitting to close with one as well. This is an excerpt from poet Ernie Wormwood:
We dreamed the war was over . . .
We dreamed the Baghdad Museum had not been bombed
We dreamed video cameras in prisons everywhere for the Safe Prison Channel
We dreamed all despots in the same work release program where they must search for weapons of mass destruction for as long as they all shall live
To listen, visit www.RadioCallingAmerica.com. (Thanks also to KUNM, the Lower Eastside Girls Club, La Jicarita News, and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.)
The National Nuclear Security Administration (the semi-autonomous Department of Energy agency that oversees nuclear related activities at the national weapons labs), released the Final Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic EIS in October. The document contains two important victories for the 100,000 people who responded to the Draft EIS via mail, e-mail, or testimony at one of the public hearings. NNSA announced that until a new Nuclear Posture Review is completed in 2009, under a new administration, Los Alamos will limit pit production, the triggers for nuclear bombs, to a maximum of 20 pits per year. The Draft EIS had identified a maximum number of 50 to 80 pits per year. Concurrent with that decision is the recognition that the proposed 9,000 square-foot addition to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility, to facilitate increased pit production, is no longer needed.
NNSA acknowledges in the Final EIS that the majority of the public comments expressed opposition to any increase in nuclear weapons production and the transformation of the nuclear weapons complex. Congress has rejected the development of any new-design nuclear weapons, called Reliable Replacement Warheads, for the past two years. With a new Nuclear Posture Review it's time to change the mission of LANL once and for all.
In 2007 Española businessman Richard Cook filed a legal challenge to the 2003 acequia state statute that gives acequia commissions the authority to deny water rights transfers if they are detrimental to the functioning of the acequia system. Cook took two acequias to district court: San Jose de Hernandez Community Ditch and La Acequia del Gavilan in Ojo Caliente. The Hernandez ditch is represented by New Mexico Legal Aid and the Ojo Caliente ditch by Mary Humphrey and Connie Odé.
On October 20 the New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed District Court Judge Daniel Sanchez's decision that Cook was entitled to a de novo appeal (essentially a new trial) because the statute violates New Mexico constitutional provisions in two sections. Cook's lawyers (the Stein and Brockmann law firm) argued on the technical wording of one constitutional section, and that a second section violates Cook's "equal protection principles," or "giving some water rights owners more procedural protections than others." The appellants judges concluded that the statute violates neither constitutional provision and that district court erred in its decision that the cases should be heard as de novo appeals. It remanded them back to district court to be heard "for further proceedings under the appropriate statutory standard of review."
By David Correia
In October of 1964, an organization calling itself the Corporación de Abiquiu, Merced de Tierra asserted legal and political authority over the 600,000 acre Tierra Amarilla Land Grant (TALG), a grant distributed by Mexico to Abiquiu residents in 1832. After the U.S. - Mexican War, a series of Congressional and court decisions converted the grant from a community land grant to a private land claim. During that October month in 1964, the Corporación asserted local autonomy in the adjudication of all property disputes within the grant and rejected the authority of U.S. Courts to adjudicate their claims to the grant. They did this through a series of public pronouncements and communiqués: they announced the establishment of a land grant police force and erected "no trespassing" signs along the border of the grant; they deputized grant members into a border patrol and authorized armed sentries for border security; and they began eviction proceedings against private landowners, explaining in a letter mailed to private land holders, local law enforcement agencies, and elected officials:
"In the name of Almighty God-and by virtue of the legal land title given to Manuel Martinez, by the Mexican authorities in the year of our Lord on the 20th day of July, 1832, we, the heirs of Manuel Martinez, acting under the POWER vested in us by the above-mentioned Land Title, do hereby serve notice to ALL those non-heirs now possessing either SMALL or LARGE TRACTS of land with the Boundaries of the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant, that on the 20th day of October 1964, we are DETERMINED with FIRM and RESOLUTE ACTION to take POSSESSION of these tracts of land that are now being OCCUPIED by NON-HEIRS."
As the Corporación spent October of 1964 publicly preparing to perform the common property relations they asserted to be the legitimate property relations on the Grant, political and legal authorities in New Mexico scrambled to make sense of the group and their threat. Though certainly the history and politics of property in the TALG has a long and complicated history, the crux of the conflict in 1964 came down to a fairly straightforward issue. Nearly 100 years of legal interpretation had rejected common property claims on the TALG and enacted in its place private property rights. Despite this legal history, the Corporación insisted on the legitimacy of its common property.
In both these interpretations and performances of property, the issues pivoted on a unique set of property documents from the 1860s called hijuelas that heirs asserted gave them common property claims. Since the 1940s, however, the courts had dismissed the documents in legal proceedings. The precise form and nature of these documents, their origins and intent, both in abstract and practical terms, were at the center of both the actions of the Corporación in 1964 and in the long history of legal decisions regarding the TALG. Most of the historical and legal work that exists on TALG glosses over the character and use of hijuelas. Unfortunately this has had very real material consequences for the heirs of the original recipients of those hijuelas. Most historians and attorneys referred to hijuelas as a Spanish term equivalent to deed or property right conveyance. This interpretation is incomplete and has colored the way the TALG is understood by historians and the many lawyers who failed to adequately represent the heirs.
Far from an equivalent to a property conveyance, hijuelas developed in northern New Mexico as a particularly creative and flexible legal document. The general and specific uses of hijuelas in territorial New Mexico reflect an attempt to locate an alternative conveyance form to deal with the changing relations of property created by the change in sovereignty. The TALG hijuelas were an ingenious attempt to bridge the property law conflicts of territorial New Mexico in which the common property patterns of Spanish and Mexican property law clashed with the fee simple private property relations of the United States.
In territorial New Mexico Congress and the courts misunderstood common property in two ways: first, as a tenancy in common, which fixed collective ownership at the village level but, according to various U.S. property laws, provided for its subdivision and eventual alienation from the private portion of the grant; and second, the courts construed common property as equivalent to the public domain, a theory that shifted the scale of collective ownership from the village to the nation. Either way, these forms of legal interpretation enacted property in ways much different than originally intended under Spain and Mexico. Hijuelas developed in territorial New Mexico as a locally specific solution to these legal interpretations that rejected the common lands.
There's no way to understand the use of hijuelas in territorial New Mexico, however, unless we start at the beginning. In the case of TALG, we need to go back to the spring of 1832. It was then that a prominent Abiquiu landowner named Manuel Martinez wrote to the Territorial Governor seeking a grant of land for himself and his eight sons. The Secretary of the Territorial Deputation forwarded along the request to the Corporación de Abiquiu, which was a local elected assembly in Abiquiu, asking for its recommendatio. In mid-May, the Corporación noted that the land requested by Martinez was "capable of accommodating five hundred families without property, and without any injury to third parties, leaving the pasture and watering places free to all the inhabitants of this jurisdiction of Abiquiu." Apparently alarmed at the recommendation of the Corporación, Martinez argued that "it would certainly be unjust that the stock-raisers of Abiquiu should proceed to establish permanent stock ranges within the limits of the property I seek to obtain, under the guarantee that the grant was made on condition that the pasture and watering places should be common with those of Abiquiu, to be freely used to the injury of the proprietors, which will have no other tendency than that of causing endless disputes and difficulties." But the Territorial Deputation ordered the Alcalde to deliver "to each one of those who shall unite with the petitioners a certain number of varas . . . executing to them a deed of grant therefore."
This was not an easy area to establish permanent settlements. Numerous previous attempts had failed because the entire northern region of New Mexico was dominated by nomadic Utes and Navajos. There was likely a long period of seasonal use of Tierra Amarilla before Mexican settlement. But, when the United States invaded Mexico in 1846, settlements based on the 1832 grant existed in Tierra Amarilla and were among New Mexico's northern-most settlements. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the war transferred the entire region to U.S. control and guaranteed that all Mexican property claims would be "inviolably respected." For years, the United States hesitated to establish a mechanism in New Mexico to adjudicate those claims while it focused its attention on California property claims. Six years after the Treaty, the United States established the New Mexico Office of the Surveyor General, charged with the task of investigating land claims in the territory. One of the early petitions considered by William Pelham, New Mexico's first Surveyor General, was an August 25, 1856 claim for the TALG by Francisco Martinez, one of the sons of the then deceased Manuel Martinez. After a brief investigation, Pelham recommended that Congress confirm Martinez's claim for the nearly 600,000-acre grant. In his brief report, Pelham took care to note that Manuel Martinez had requested a private grant but that the Corporación de Abiquiu recommended otherwise and that Mexican authorities had directed the local Alcalde to "place the parties in possession."
Congress approved Pelham's recommendation in 1860 but in doing so confirmed only the claim of Francisco Martinez, effectively converting the grant to a private land claim. After suddenly becoming one of the largest landowners in the United States, Martinez began distributing hijuelas to settlers then living on the grant. By 1865 Martinez had distributed 130 hijuelas, 113 of which were notarized and filed with the County Clerk. With each hijuela, Martinez dictated very specific, though individually unique, rights and obligations.
Historians and lawyers have been preoccupied with Martinez's motivations in distributing hijuelas. His actions appear contradictory. He distributed hijuelas to settlers on the grant, guaranteeing free access to the commons while at the same time selling his private claims to various buyers. But if we consider the social and economic context of hijuelas in northern New Mexico during the territorial period we can begin to imagine a certain logic in Francisco Martinez's actions.
Consistent with the practice of common property grants, Martinez placed additional obligations on hijuela recipients, vesting ownership in the section of varas or various amounts only after three years of settlement and the construction of improvements. Almost all the historical research that examines hijuelas in the context of land grants generally describes them as a deed or property conveyance. Indeed, the Martinez hijuelas read like property deeds. Although hijuelas were documents that described property conveyances, they were also found in wills describing the division of property in an estate. And even here, they served a very specific purpose. Hijuelas are not found in all wills during the territorial period, but where they are found they're there to do the seemingly impossible: divide the undividable. Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, hijuelas were used to distribute property in creative ways. Homes were bequeathed to heirs room by room. Trees were bequeathed to one heir and the land below the trees to another. Vigas were distributed to sons, the walls of the home to daughters and the land below the home to grandchildren. Mattresses were bequeathed in shares. And, most importantly, land often found its way into hijuelas as well. Property was bequeathed to multiple heirs and in so doing, avoided the undesired subdivision that separate deeds would create. The result was the division of rights to undivided property. In the changing property landscape of territorial New Mexico, the hijuela served as a kind of receipt that ensured common property rights would survive a person's death.
The same problem that confronted those constructing their wills in Territorial New Mexico confronted Francisco Martinez in Tierra Amarilla. The Congressional act of 1860 converted the commons into private property owned by Martinez in fee simple. Distributing deeds to the settlers that relied on the common lands for their livelihoods would have provided no legal right of access to the commons in perpetuity. The courts construed them as tenancies in common and territorial law provided for the subdivision and sale of common property. Hijuelas, then, provided a legal mechanism to distribute both private and common property rights, thus reconverting property relations on the grant to the form that existed prior to the arrival of the United States.
Distributing hijuelas served pragmatic ends. Though most of the grant remained Martinez's private property, the hijuelas vested ownership in the settlers that made up the communities then thriving on the grant. This made economic sense. It would not have served Martinez's economic interests to have dispossessed the settlers of their property rights and eject them from their land. The existence of land grant communities on the property increased the economic potential and exchange value of the private portions of the TALG. Indeed, when Thomas Benton Catron claimed ownership in the TALG, he didn't pursue ejectment suits against those who held hijuelas, nor did he try to limit their use of the common lands. Viable communities on the grant increased the economic value of the property. He was content to derive income from mineral and timber leases on the grant.
The slow erosion in property rights based on hijuelas began with intensive fencing and commercial efforts to exploit the grant in the twentieth century. The courts, in a series of decisions, contributed to this erosion by misinterpreting the character and intent of the hijuelas. In most cases, however, this was the fault of the attorneys representing heirs of hijuela recipients. In every case in which hijuelas were an issue, the lawyers claimed the hijuelas were equivalent to deeds. No effort was made to provide the court with an accurate definition of hijuelas that reflected the social and economic context from which they emerged. As a result, the courts held hijuelas up to the standards of private property and found them wanting. Use of the commons could be established, but not possession. Rights to the commons were retained, but not conveyed. As a result, the courts dismissed the property-making authority of the hijuelas.
This was the legal context of property the Corporación de Abiquiu confronted in October of 1964. The state, however, intervened. On October 9, 1964, Alfonso Sanchez, the District Attorney for the first judicial district petitioned the court for a permanent restraining order enjoining the Corporación and its officers from performing acts in contravention of legal rights of land owners in the TALG. Many of those named in the injunction were given notice on October 15th, the day before they were required to appear before the court. The court proceedings were conducted on October 16th without benefit of an interpreter - none of those who attended had time to get an attorney. The corporation and 151 men and women were named on the injunction including "all unknown heirs to the Tierra Amarilla land grant," a phrase that, in the years to come, would be interpreted by authorities to include those not yet born in 1964. The injunction was granted on October 20, 1964, at which time the Corporación of Abiquiu was enjoined from existing as a organization and "prohibited from issuing eviction notices, threatening eviction, issuing or collecting fees for hunting and fishing licenses, patrolling the boundaries of the grant with armed sentries."
The permanent injunction served an important purpose in the enactment of private property in the TALG. In dismissing the hijuelas and establishing the legal origins of private property, the injunction of October 1964 made the expression or even the assertion of common property claims illegal. The injunction of 1964 stands today and has allowed the enactment of private property on the TALG to become fully realized, as it has permanently closed off any legal challenge TALG heirs could collectively make, which is the only way a common property claim could possibly be made.
Copyright 1996-2006 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.