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Pueblo of Santo Domingo Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Castaño de Sosa in 1591 visited the Queres Pueblo of Gipuy, which was located on the Arroyo de Galisteo and renamed it Santo Domingo. Seven years later, after Governor Juan de Oñate had conquered New Mexico and divided it into seven missionary provinces, Santo Domingo was selected as headquarters for the Queres Nation under Father Juan de Rosas. Both the pueblo and its monastery were destroyed by the great flood of 1605. Shortly thereafter, the pueblo was reestablished on the east bank of the Rio Grande. On August 10, 1680, its inhabitants joined the Pueblo Revolt and killed their three resident priests and many of the occupants of the pueblo’s large convent. However, much to his surprise, Governor Antonio Otermin, during his retreat to El Paso del Norte, found that the Indians had not desecrated any of the church’s property.[1]

Following his unsuccessful entrada into New Mexico, Governor Domingo Jironza Petriz Cruzate interviewed Bartolome de Ojida, a wounded Indian who had been captured during the fierce battle of the Pueblo of Zia, concerning the boundaries of the Pueblo of Santo Domingo Grant. Ojida, being under oath and not expected to live, testified on September 20, 1689, that its boundaries were:

On the north, the Lomas Pelados near a rivulet running from the east and emptying into the Rio Grande; on the east, a water called Alonzo Catiti, near a white hill of alabaster; on the south, the side of the hill called Blanca Pelado; and on the west, a little hill on the bank of an arroyo where there is a cave.

 Cruzate closed his written account of the interview by stating:

... and this grant having been read to him and he being informed thereof, he signed .... [2]

The Santo Domingo Indians filed[3] this instrument in Surveyor General William Pelham’s office on March 12, 1856. In his Annual Report[4] for that year, Pelham recommended that the grant be confirmed as soon as possible. Being mindful of the government’s obligations under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and in response to Pelham’s admonition, Congress confirmed the claim by Act[5] approved December 22, 1858. The grant was surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Ruben E. Clements in 1859 for 74,743.11 acres and it was patented on November 1, 1864.[6]

On February 15, 1904, Superintendent L. J. Crandall of the Santa Fe Indian School requested the General Land office to cause the boundaries of the Pueblo of Santo Domingo to be resurveyed and marked with monuments not more than a mile apart. He pointed out that the grant was one of the best pueblo grants and there was a disposition on the part of settlers to appropriate the Indians’ lands. Continuing, he stated that the inability of the Indians to readily find their boundaries had caused them no little trouble and in several cases had resulted in their loss of land since squatters had obtained limitation titles to the tracts upon which they had settled. In response to Crandall’s request, the Surveyor General of New Mexico was instructed to cause the grant to be resurveyed and monumented.[7] Deputy Surveyor W. V. Hall was awarded a contract on August 26, 1904 to perform the desired work. As a result of his survey, the eastern boundary of the grant was moved about eight miles east. His survey also showed that the grant contained 92,398.382 acres and conflicted with 37,971.45 acres contained in the Mesita de Juana Lopez Grant; 4,592.61 acres of the La Majada Grant; 145.88 acres of the Pueblo of Cochiti Grant, and 644.16 acres of the Santo Domingo and San Felipe Grant. These conflicts were considered by the Pueblo Land Board in 1927. It extinguished the Indians title to the lands covered by the Mesita de Juana Lopez and La Majada Grants. In connection with the Pueblo de Cochiti and Santo Domingo and San Felipe Grants, it held that it had no jurisdiction over intertribal conflicts.[8]


[1] 2. Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, 462 (1962); and Prince, Spanish Mission Churches of New Mexico 156‑157 (1915).

[2] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 3d Sess., 510‑511 (1856). This instrument was proven to be spurious in 1900. Brayer, Pueblo Indian Land Grants of the “Rio Abajo, New Mexico, 1109 (1938).

[3] The Pueblo of Santo Domingo Grant, No. H (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[4] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 1, 34th Cong., 3d Sess., 411‑412 (1856).

[5] An Act to confirm the land claim of certain pueblos and towns in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 5, 11 Stat. 374 (1858).

[6] Report of the Secretary of Interior, 290 (1887).

[7] The Pueblo of Santo Domingo Grant, No. H (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.).

[8] The Pueblo of Santo Domingo Grant (Mss., Records of the Pueblo Land Board, General Services Administration, Washington, D. C.).