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Rancho de Santa Ana Grant

by J. J. Bowden

Early in the nineteenth century the Laguna Indians purchased[1] the Rancho de Santa Ana Grant from a Spaniard named Galviso. It was one of the purchased tracts which the Lagunans presented[2] to Surveyor General William Pelham on June 29, 1859 for confirmation under Section 8 of the Act of July 22, 1854.[3] Since they had lost their deed and the grant papers, the petitioners filed a Spanish document[4] from the Archives of New Mexico in an effort to sustain their claim. This instrument was a certificate given the inhabitants of the Pueblo of Laguna by its alcalde, Manuel Aragon, on March 25, 1813 to protect them from possible abuses by their local Spanish officials. One of the items covered by this certificate was an acknowledgment of their right to certain tracts of land, which included the Rancho de Santa Ana. The recitations contained in this certificate were approved by Governor Antonio Narbona on August 25, 1826. The two witnesses who were examined by Pelham both stated that the Lagunans had occupied the grant since they had known it. Based on this meager evidence and cursory examination, Pelham, by Report dated July 10, 1859,[5] held that Narbona’s approval of the statements made in Aragon’s certificate was tantamount to a grant to the Indians. Therefore, he recommended that the claim be confirmed by Congress.[6] Less than a year later, Congress, by Act approved June 21, 1860, confirmed the grant.

Since the grant was not described in the pleadings or evidence in the proceedings before Pelham, in Pelham’s report, or the Act of Confirmation, Deputy Surveyors Sawyer & McElroy, who had received the contract for surveying the grant, took a number of ex parte affidavits to determine the location of its boundaries. These affidavits showed the grant as being a small, narrow tract bounded:

On the north, by the Acequia Madre of the Lagunans; on the east, by the little town of Garvisos; on the south, by the foot of the Mesa de Garvisos; and on the west, by the old dam between the point of a mesa and Cubero Mountain.

They surveyed the grant in March, 1877 for 871.33 acres. The grant was patented to the Pueblo of Laguna on September 22, 1884.[7]




[1] Brayer, Pueblo Indian Land Grants of the “Rio Abajo,” New Mexico, 52 (1938).

[2] The Pueblo of Laguna Tracts, No. 30 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.)

[3] An Act to Establish the Offices of Surveyor General of New Mexico, Kansas and Nebraska, to Grant Donations to Actual Settlers Therein, and for Other Purposes, Chap. 103, Sec. 8, 10 Stat. 308 (1854).

[4] Archive No. 688 (Mss., Records of the A.N.M.).

[5] H. R. Exec. Doc. No. 14, 36th Cong., 1st Sess., 165‑167 (1860).

[6] An Act to Confirm Certain Private Land Claims in the Territory of New Mexico, Chap. 167, Sec. 3, 12 Stat. 71 (1860).

[7] The Pueblo of Laguna Tracts, No. 30 (Mss., Records of the S.G.N.M.)