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Pueblo of Jemez Grant

by J. J. Bowden

The Jemez Indians were living in at least seven pueblos in the vicinity of the Jemez Hot Springs prior to Juan Oñate’s conquest of New Mexico in 1598. After the establishment of the mission system and the introduction of irrigation by the Spaniards, the Jemez Indians were induced to abandon their pueblos one by one until about 1622 when they were consolidated into three settlements, Gyusiwa, Astialakwa, and Patoqua, each of which was the seat of a mission. Commencing in about 1643, the Jemez Indians made peace with the Navajos and commenced conspiring with them against the Spaniards, and participated in a number of unsuccessful uprisings. When the Pueblo Rebellion broke out on August 10, 1680, the Jemez Indians killed Fray Juan de Jesus Morador, the missionary at Gyusiwa and rushed to Santa Fe, where they played a prominent role in the ouster of the Spaniards from New Mexico.

When Governor Diego de Vargas reconquered New Mexico in 1692, the Jemez Indians were living on the mesa in a large fortified pueblo (probably Astialakwa). He was able to pacify them. However, as a result of Jemez Indians’ hostility towards the Zia Indians, which arose as a result of their fidelity to the Spaniards, Vargas, in July, 1694, was forced to storm the mesa. After a fierce engagement, the pueblo was captured and destroyed. The Jemez Indians were resettled at San Diego de Jemez (Gyusiwa), where they remained until 1696 when they again rebelled, killed their missionary, and moved back to their mesa stronghold. In June, 1696, they were defeated by a small force of Spaniards and Zia Indians. They then fled to the Navajo country where they remained until, about 1705. Following their return, they settled at and built the present pueblo of Jemez, which is situated on the north bank of the Jemez River some twenty miles northwest of Bernalillo. Although its population had been greatly reduced by the smallpox epidemic of 1781, it is still in existence.[1]

Shortly after his arrival at Santa Fe, Surveyor General William Pelham proceeded to investigate the Pueblo of Jemez Grant under Section 8 of the Act of July 22, 1354.[2] In support of their claim, the Indians filed a Spanish document on September 14, 1855, which indicated that Governor Domingo Jironza Petriz de Crúzate on September 20, 1689, had granted the pueblo four square leagues of land to be measured one league in each of the cardinal directions from the “four corners of the temple, which is situated in the center of the pueblo.”[3] In a report dated September 30, 1856, Pelham approved the claim and recommended that the grant be confirmed as speedily as possible.[4] Congress concurred and confirmed the grant by Act approved December 22, 1858.[5] The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor John Garretson for 17,510.45 acres and was patented on November 1, 1864.[6]

Notwithstanding the fact that all of the “Crúzate Grants” were later proved to be spurious, there are at least two documents in the Archives which tend to indicate that a grant actually had been made to the Pueblo of Jemez. The first[7] shows that on May 16, 1786, the Alcalde of Alameda, Antonio Norio Montoya, placed Antonio de Armenta and Salvador Antonio Sandoval in possession of the Town of San Isidro Grant which had been granted to them by Governor Juan Bautista de Anza and was situated between the “leagues” of the Pueblos of Jemez and Zia. The second is a letter[8] to the Governor seeking advice as to who should pay the alcalde for his services in settling a dispute between Rafael Garcia and the inhabitants of the Pueblo of Jemez over the location of the southern boundary of the pueblo grant. It seems that Garcia, who owned a tract south of the pueblo league, had caused Montoya to survey the southern boundary of the pueblo league sometime prior to April 18, 1833, in an effort to locate their common boundary. Montoya had located the southern boundary of the Indians’ land as a line 5,000 varas from the church in the center of the pueblo by meas­uring the distance with a horsehair rope 50 varas in length.

This measurement placed the line 100 varas south of Garcia’s northern boundary. Thereupon, the alcalde remeasured the rope and discovered that it had stretched almost a vara during the course of the measurement. Instead of remeasuring the distance, the parties agreed that 50 varas of the overlap should be allowed to Garcia. No sooner had this controversy been settled when a dispute arose over who should pay Montoya for his services. Being unable to solve the matter, Montoya turned to the governor for advice on how to collect his fee. The governor was of little help for in his answer dated April 23, 1833, he stated:

… it is not the governor’s business to resolve doubts that may arise in the minds of the Alcaldes with respect to the administration of justice, and that the Alcalde had better consult an attorney.…

 This probably was of little comfort to Montoya, for attorneys in New Mexico in 1833 were scarce, if not nonexistent.

[1] 1 Hodge, Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 629‑630 (1960); and Ayer, The Memorial of Alonso de Benavides 241‑244 (1916).

[2] Act to Establish the Office of Surveyor General of New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, to Grant Donations to Actual Settlers Thereon, and For Other Purposes, Chap. 103, Sec. 8, 10 Stat. 308 (1854).

[3] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 3d. Sess., 494‑495 (1856).

[4] Ibid., 411.

[5] An Act to Confirm the Land Claims of Certain Pueblos and Towns in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 5, 11 Stat. 374 (1858).

[6] The Pueblo of Jemez Grant, No. A (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[7] Archive No. 1261 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[8] Archive No. 1245 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).