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The Abiquiu Genizaro Land Grant

An essay about the Abiquiu Land Grant written for the Center of Land Grant Studies.

The Abiquiú Genízaro Grant

The Abiquiú Genízaro Grant is the only grant made exclusively to genízaro Indians, that is Plains Indians and Navajos who were captured and sold to Spaniards mainly for use as household servants. In the early 1700s, the Abiquiú area was populated primarily by Spaniards who received small land grants where they settled, until raids by bands of Utes and Comanches eventually caused the temporary abandonment of Abiquiú in 1747.[1]   This left a large hole in the defenses of the more populated Santa Fe and Santa Cruz de la Cañada areas, so when Viceroy Revilla Gigedo learned of the abandonment in 1750 he ordered that Abiquiú be resettled. This resulted in two land grants, one in 1751 made to seven Spanish heads of families and thirteen genízaros, the other the genízaro grant made in 1754 by Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín. The viceroy appointed fray Felix José Ordoñes y Machado as priest and doctrinal teacher (doctrinero) to the genízaro pueblo.[2]

In the grant documents, Governor Vélez Cachupín referred to Viceroy Revilla Gigedo's order that Abiquiú be resettled together with the opinions/orders of the fiscal and the auditor general of war in Mexico City. The fiscal specified that the genízaros be given sufficient lands in accordance with Book 6, title 3, law 8 of the Recopilacion de Leyes de los Reynos de Las Indias which provides that the Indians have an ejido one league long.[3] Governor Vélez Cachupín went to the site of the new pueblo, to be called Santo Tomás Apostol de Abiquiú, with Father Ordoñez who was under the jurisdiction of the prelate and Vice Custos of New Mexico, fray Tomás Murciano de la Cruz.

Governor Vélez Cachupín, examined the area and found it to be endowed with rich lands of fine quality, an abundance of water, pasture lands and woodlands. With the assistance of Alcalde Juan José Lovato, the measurement of the grant was made as follows: approximately half a league, 2,500 varas, to the north, east, and west, and 5,000 varas to the south. This was said to be agricultural land under irrigation. In addition, an ejido to the south was measured as follows: north, the pueblo boundary; south, the road that goes to the Navajo; east, the arroyo that descends along the edge of the pueblo; and west, the height of the Rio de los Frijoles. Governor Vélez Cachupín noted that toward the western boundary, the high ground of the Rio de los Frijoles, the pastures were of excellent quality because of the abundance of grama grass. Governor Mendinueta subsequently ordered a copy to be made of the grant at the request of leaders of the pueblo.[4]Governor Mendinueta's land grant policies were not as favorable to indigenous peoples as Governor Vélez Cachupín's, nor was his military policy as effective in achieving peace with Utes, Comanches, and Navajos who continued to terrorize frontier settlements such as Abiquiú.[5]

After its second abandonment, Abiquiú was again resettled, this time for good. The 1770s was a difficult time for all frontier settlements as the Comanche stepped up their attacks. The Spanish settlements in and around Taos moved into Taos Pueblo for protection, and Ojo Caliente was almost abandoned many times before it was resettled permanently in 1793. Mendinueta blamed the Spanish settlers for refusing to return to Ojo Caliente calling them "churlish types" and threatening them with jail and fines of up to two hundred pesos.[6] Although the Spaniards refused to resettle Ojo Caliente, the genízaros stayed, continued to plant gardens, and trade with Utes and Comanches. This was probably the case for Abiquiú as well. When it was said to have been abandoned, some genízaro families would have remained while the Spaniards moved in with their extended families at Santa Cruz and San José de Chama.[7]

During the latter part of the eighteenth century, the genízaro population at Abiquiú fluctuated, sometimes dipping below the sixty families originally settled on the grant. In 1760 Bishop Tamarón counted 57 genízaro families totaling 166 persons and 104 Hispanic families totaling 617 persons.[8]

In 1776 Father Domínquez made his visitation and census counting 46 genízaros with 136 persons and 49 Spaniards with 254 persons. Father Domínquez noted that both groups had fields irrigated by the Chama River in separate areas and the Spaniards fields produced more and better crops because they applied themselves to a greater extent. In contrast Domínquez said that the genízaros were "sterile in their labor and cultivation so they do not yield what they might with attention and as a result so little is harvested that the Indians are always dying."[9] Father Dominquez further noted that Abiquiú genízaros spoke a form of Spanish similar to that of Santa Fe genízaros, but as to their customs (and probably their religious practices), the chatty and censorious priest said the genízaros were "examples of what happens when idleness becomes the den of evils."[10]

By the early 1800s, Indian raids were less of a threat to the Abiquiú genízaros than were sales by individual Indians of Abiquiú land. During this period Hispanic elites treated Abiquiú as an Indian pueblo, moved by the desire of privatizing unused land and stripping as much land as possible from the pueblo. The decline in farming at Abiquiú and the 1812 laws of the Spanish Cortes allowing privatization of unused pueblo lands set up a situation that was ripe for exploitation by Hispanic citizens, including the priest at Abiquiú, Fray Teodoro Alcina.

The Abiquiú genízaros remained Indians at heart and were deeply concerned when their parish priest, Father Alcina, severely but unfairly criticized and cursed them. Soon after the priest's criticism it became a real life curse when a hail storm all but destroyed the pueblo's crops, and a plague of locusts completed the devastation. The parishioners were so upset that they sued the priest to have him removed for a series of misdeeds. The Abiquiú genízaros were so distraught by Father Alcina's curse that they erected a cross by the church of Santo Tomas that stands to this day. Father Alcina was not as tolerant as Toledo had been, yet he remained at Abiquiú as biblical catastrophes continued to afflict the community.[11]

Another catastrophe Abiquiú faced was the sale of its lands by individual Indians of the pueblo, as well as sales by Father Teodoro Alcina himself. It was unclear whether individual Indians had the power to sell community or private land in the pueblo, but while government officials debated the question Indian land sales continued. In 1812 Teresa Cortés sold lands she had acquired from Abiquiú pueblo to José Velarde, but three years later in 1815 Governor Alberto Máynez (1814-1816) revoked the sale when the pueblo protested stating that "no one can sell pueblo land, and if any has been sold the sale is null and void." [12]

Abiquiú pueblo spent more than a decade fighting illegal land sales to elite New Mexicans in courts as high as the commandant general's in Chihuahua or Durango. These elites included Governor Bartolomé Baca and acting governor Juan Esteban Pino, both of whom coveted pueblo land; Manuel Martinez, the successful petitioner for the Tierra Amarilla grant; and José García de la Mora, the largest purchaser of Abiquiú pueblo land.[13] García de la Mora was a prime mover in the litigation, representing Father Alcina and some individuals who had purchased land from Teresa Cortés. José García de la Mora acted as alcalde at a time when he was one of the largest purchasers of Abiquiú pueblo land, a clear conflict of interests. In March 1823 he petitioned Governor José Antonio Viscarra (1823), on the purchasers' behalf, asking the governor to validate sales that previous governors had held null and void. Instead, Vizcarra, on behalf of the provincial deputation, ordered the sales rescinded and the purchase prices refunded. [14]

José García de la Mora was not happy with Governor Vizcarra's decision favoring Abiquiú pueblo, and his response to the governor and to the commandant general showed how deeply García de la Mora was involved in Abiquiú pueblo land and how far he was willing to go in challenging the very identity of the genízaro pueblo. First, he complained that if the Indians of Abiquiú pueblo were to refund his purchase price to him, he should receive not two hundred pesos, but a thousand pesos and would accept nothing less. His attitude demonstrates the value García de la Mora placed on the land he purchased, although it does not appear that he paid that much for it. [15] Second, he traveled to Chihuahua, about four hundred miles south of Santa Fe, to present his case directly to the commandant general.

After Mexican independence in 1821, the Commandant General of the Interior Provinces continued to act in some areas of his jurisdiction before independence, including hearing appeals from decisions by the governors. This official often knew very little about the conditions among New Mexico Indians and even less about the Abiquiú genízaros. His decisions were generally legalistic, vague, and sometimes ambiguous. Since no lawyer or agent represented the Abiquiú genízaros in Chihuahua, it was a perfect opportunity for Garcia de la Mora to attempt to mislead the court and have the Abiquiú pueblo land sales approved. García de la Mora informed Commandant General Gaspar de Ochoa that the Indians had only four years to object to the sales they made to Spaniards and they were not even from Abiquiú but were genízaros or coyotes.[16]

This argument was similar to his earlier attempt to alter the nature of the genízaro pueblo. Even before Mexican independence, García de la Mora, in his capacity as alcalde [of Abiquiú] asked Governor Melgares (1818-22) for clarification of the status of the Abiquiú genízaros. He told the governor that the viceroy and the commandant general had notified him of the total elimination of the former status of the mission of Abiquiú as a settlement of genízaros, which had been established, protected, and assisted by the King. To Garcia de la Mora this meant that the common lands of Abiquiú were subject to partition, and that the people of Abiquiú were no longer Indians deserving of protection. García de la Mora was already purchasing Abiquiú pueblo land himself and hoped to acquire more. The pueblo later claimed García de la Mora was planning its destruction, when he explained to Governor Melgares "I must see this pueblo not as it was, but as a plaza of vecinos subject to the tithe, first fruits, and other obligations and consequently . . . I should proceed to partition the common lands into equal parts [subject to acquisition by] poor vecinos who lack land." [17]

This challenge to the very identity of the genízaro pueblo was not accepted either in 1820 or in 1823 by the lawyer for the commandant general who considered the Abiquiú genízaros to be Indians subject to the jurisdiction of that court. The lawyer, Jesús María Mena, ruled that local authorities should decide the dispute after making an attempt at conciliation. In the meantime, the Spanish purchasers should retain possession of the land in question.[18]

Following the commandant general's decision both sides interpreted the ruling according to their own interests. García de la Mora took the language about leaving the purchasers in possession to mean that the commandant had ruled in his favor. The genízaro pueblo and the local officials at Abiquiú, however, focused on the language allowing local officials to decide the case. On 20 April 1824, Alcalde Francisco Jaramillo ruled that "the lands within said community [of Abiquiú] cannot be acquired or purchased by any individual of another race [i.e. non-Indians]."[19]

Despite this favorable ruling, the lawsuit between the pueblo of Abiquiú and García de la Mora dragged on through April, May, and June of 1824, requiring the pueblo to be vigilant in protecting its rights as García de la Mora and others persisted in their attack. Governor Bartolomé Baca was also an important player in this legal drama, as he jockeyed for position in his attempt to justify the privatization of as much pueblo land as possible. Alcalde Francisco Trujillo was quite specific in his finding that Father Alcina's actions in attempting to acquire land at Abiquiú pueblo were done without the consent of the pueblo. Nevertheless, when Alcalde Trujillo asked the governor for advice, Governor Baca responded with the dismissive statement that he should consult a lawyer.[20]

In response to the commandant general's suggestion that an attempt be made to settle the dispute through conciliation, each side named hombres buenos [upright men], to represent them. Initially José Pablo Martin was named on behalf of the Abiquiú genízaro pueblo and Francisco Salazar was named on behalf of the purchasers, particularly José García de la Mora. This was unsatisfactory because the two sides could not reach an agreement, so new hombres buenos were appointed, but still no agreement was reached. While the Abiquiú genízaros tried to follow the procedures García de la Mora and Father Alcina had chosen, the delay cost them dearly. Even though Alcaldes Francisco Jaramillo and Francisco Trujillo had ruled on numerous occasions that the sales of land by Abiquiú pueblo members were void and even fraudulent, Governor Baca refused to enforce these decisions, allowing the purchasers to remain in possession. This gave García de la Mora and others the opportunity to take additional land belonging to the pueblo and begin farming it. The Pueblo of Abiquiú filed numerous petitions with Governor Baca, pointing out these injustices and attaching decisions of former governors decreeing sales of pueblo land to be void. Yet, Baca, who was interested in privatizing as much pueblo land as possible so he and his allies could acquire it, continued to rule in the purchasers' favor.[21]

Despite Governor Máynez's 1815 nullification of Teresa Cortés land sale to José Velarde in 1812, by the 1820s the land had not been returned to the pueblo. The pueblo of Abiquiú was slow to respond to García de la Mora's attempt to circumvent the series of decisions voiding sales of Abiquiú pueblo land. When the pueblo's response came in April and May 1824, it was a two-pronged response. Acting on the pueblo's behalf, Francisco Marquez, Francisco Trujillo, and Miguel Antonio García brought suit before Governor Baca seeking the return of pueblo lands that had not been sold. Trujillo was not only a petitioner in this lawsuit, he was also acting as constitutional alcalde of Abiquiú at the time. Instead of recusing himself from deciding this case because of conflict of interest, he ruled on 18 May 1824 that "the land be restored to the natives of the Pueblo."[22] This ruling by one of the petitioners must have seemed irregular to the authorities, so former Protector of Indians Sánchez Vergara was appointed to present the pueblo's case as its attorney. A less consistent Indian advocate than Sánchez Vergara would be hard to find. In this case, he made a forceful argument for the inability of the Pueblos to sell their land without permission of their attorney or a judge. He opined that the pueblo lands Cortés and García sold should be returned to the pueblo with the pair refunding the purchase price. Sánchez Vergara argued convincingly that any sale of the lands of the pueblo of Abiquiú damaged the subsistence base of the genízaro Indians, stating that the pueblo was dwindling in area because of the land sales "leaving only a few families at the pueblo who are in complete misery, with not even a piece of land to farm and cultivate in order to make a living."[23]

In an earlier instance in February 1819, Sanchez Vergara, acting as protector of Indians, approved the sale of Abiquiú pueblo lands to María Manuela Perea.[24] There is no clear explanation as to how the 1824 sales differed from the earlier one in 1819. It may have been that in 1819 he had given official approval of the sale, but a more likely answer is that the later sales of pueblo lands did not involve a member of the local elite, such as Doña María Manuela Perea. This conclusion seems apt because similar sales, such as those to Father Alcina and Alcalde García de la Mora, while initially disapproved by Alcalde Pedro Ignacio Gallegos, were subsequently by Alcalde José García de la Mora.[25]

The April 1824 petition that Sánchez for Vergara filed for Abiquiú pueblo provided an opportunity for the pueblo to assert its identity and set the record straight on several matters. First, the petition mentioned the 1754 Vélez Cachupín grant that legally established the pueblo with definite boundaries, "leaving the pueblo fully satisfied."[26] Then Abiquiú pueblo pointed out that Teresa Cortés was a founding member of the genízaro pueblo, having equal rights with the other pueblo members to use the grant lands but not to sell them. Finally, Father Alcina, who had been claiming a right to lands of Abiquiú pueblo for over a decade, was described as being in league with the alcaldes who "instead of protecting and advising us as to our rights were planning our destruction."[27] Father Alcina had several tracts of Abiquiú pueblo land, but the main one he acquired was given to him in trust to farm with genízaro Indian labor, using the harvest for the upkeep of the church and as payment for administering the sacrament. Instead, Alcina appropriated the land for himself and still over-charged the genízaros for his services.

After cursing Abiquiú pueblo, Father Alcina attempted to force a sale of its common lands, which it held because it was still considered an Indian pueblo. This was to facilitate collection of some unspecified debt that the pueblo was said to owe him. Again the genízaro Indians of Abiquiú protested, this time to the Territorial Deputation of New Mexico. Governor Facundo Melgares, president of the Deputation, reported on 26 April 1822 that "the sale [or payment] of lands was null and the land was to be returned to the community."[28]

If this transaction had not been reversed, Father Alcina would have taken over the common lands of the genízaro pueblo. Irrespective of the governor's ruling, Alcina retained several private tracts of land within the boundaries of the pueblo (the tract Teresa Cortés claimed was bounded on one side by Father Alcina). In addition to taking land from the Abiquiú pueblo, Father Alcina admitted to stealing at least two sacks of corn from the genízaro pueblo. The genízaro pueblo had to sue the priest in order to obtain this admission, and in doing so, it again established its identity as a pueblo that would not put up with theft of its lands and property, even by its priest.[29] 

In 1825 Cristóbal Quintana petitioned Governor Baca to authorize the distribution and partition of the individual farm tracts within Abiquiú pueblo. The request was granted but the partition proved to be a difficult and contentious process that was not fully completed until 1841 when land was distributed to members of the pueblo.[30]

In addition to these struggles over land sales within the pueblo, Abiquiú genízaros were actively involved in another aspect of the protection of their lands, the measurement of their ejido to the south of the grant.[31] Unlike the pueblo of Pecos whose common lands began to be partitioned and privatized under the authority of Governor Bartolomé Baca, the ejido of Abiquiú Pueblo suffered a different fate. Although pueblo members sold some land to local Hispanics, much of the Abiquiú ejido remained in genízaro hands.[32]

The southern boundary of the Abiquiú ejido, which was considered to be part of the Abiquiú grant, was disputed by neighboring Hispanic settlers from Vallecitos between 1829 and 1831. In 1807 José García de la Mora and twelve associates received a land grant known as the Vallecito de San Antonio grant. The northern boundary of the Vallecitos grant was Abiquiú Pueblo, but the exact location of that boundary became the subject of a heated dispute. Soon after the Vallecitos grant was made, Abiquiú residents complained that livestock from the Vallecitos settlement had wandered into their planted fields and caused damage.[33] As with other grants to Spaniards that were adjacent to Indian pueblos, the exact location of the boundary of the pueblo was often not determined and marked with accuracy until after an encroachment on the pueblo's lands had made the boundary issue important. Often, measurement of the pueblo league was a first step in the resolution of such disputes.[34] Since the southern boundary of the Abiquiú grant was the southern boundary of the Abiquiú ejido, the question arose as to whether the pueblo owned the ejido or shared it with adjoining landowners. Other cases of ejidos attached to grants made to Spaniards answered this question in different ways. While the ejido concept implied common usage of land by the community receiving the land grant (usually for grazing cattle), in some cases several communities shared an ejido, and in others the ejido was for the exclusive use of the community to which it was attached.

The Recopilación law under which the grant to Abiquiú was made implied that the latter interpretation was meant for indigenous pueblos such as Abiquiú. Recopilación 6.3.8 states that the one league ejido given to Indian Pueblos must be a place "where the Indians can have their cattle without mixing with those of the Spaniards."[35] Governor Vélez Cachupín repeated this provision almost verbatim in the 1754 Abiquiú grant and made this interpretation when he granted the adjoining Polvadera grant to Juan Pablo Martín. In the Polvadera grant, west of the Abiquiú pueblo, Vélez Cachupín provided that the grant "shall be without prejudice to the Indians of Abiquiú, their farmlands and ejidos."[36] If only cattle of the Indians were to be kept on the Abiquiú ejido, it would appear to be an ejido that was part of the land grant to the pueblo of Abiquiú. By treating the irrigated fields the same as the ejidos Vélez Cachupín was protecting the Abiquiú ejido as Indian land. This was equitable because the Polvadera grant was made only to one person, Juan Pablo Martín and his family, and was of sufficient size to provide adequate grazing for Martín's livestock.[37]  While the status of the Abiquiú ejido seemed clear in 1766, by 1826 the Mexican government's views about common land had changed somewhat. The Spanish Cortes had encouraged the privatization of unused and unneeded pueblo common land in 1812 and 1813 and those laws were still in effect in the early 1820s. In 1825 lands of pueblos like Pecos, whose members had dwindled to only a handful, were privatized and either allotted to Spaniards or purchased by them from neighboring Indians. During this period a dispute broke out over the southern boundary of the Abiquiú Pueblo grant with the Vallecitos de San Antonio grant to the south. [38]
At the time of the partitions of private farmlands at Abiquiú in 1825, the southern boundary of the pueblo of Abiquiú was recognized as "the road of the Tiquas that goes to Navajo."[39]  This was also the south boundary of the ejido, but no landmarks remained to mark the location of that boundary. Accordingly, a new measurement of the southern boundary of the Abiquiú grant was ordered. It was not always clear how many varas should be measured, but most everyone agreed that the landmark on the south was the road to Navajo country.

In 1829 Governor Manuel Armijo directed Alcalde Miguel Quintana to establish Abiquiú's southern boundary after examining the Vallecito and Polvadera grants. He noted that the Polvadera grant was made "without prejudice to the 5,000 vara [ejido] of said pueblo." Alcalde Quintana then introduced serious confusion into the proceedings when he stated that the Abiquiú grant called for a "measurement of 5,000 varas south from the center of the pueblo to the Camino Real of the Tiquas which goes to Navajo which bounds the front of the pueblo."[40] The Abiquiú grant actually called for a measurement of the agricultural lands as 5,000 varas south from the plaza of the pueblo of Abiquiú to a landmark, from which the ejido of 5,000 varas was to be measured south to the road to Navajo country. Thus the distance from the plaza of the pueblo of Abiquiú to the road to Navajo country should have been 10,000 varas. A look at the later survey of the Abiquiú grant shows the village of Abiquiú to be on the north side of the pueblo grant. This confusion over the proper distance from the pueblo to the road to Navajo country almost led to violence when the location of Abiquiú's southern boundary became the subject of a lawsuit between the residents of the Vallecitos grant and the Abiquiú genízaros.[41]

In 1831 the matter came to a head when an attempt was made to find the Vallecitos grant in the Santa Fe archives. Governor José Antonio Chávez stated that the land grant could not be found because "it is not easy to find old document in an archive as old as this particularly when the date in not given."[42]  Apparently the Santa Fe archives were not well organized and the grant was not found. At the same time the Vallecitos settlers had little information about their own grant to go on.

Finally, in October 1831, Alcalde José Francisco Vigil attempted to locate the south boundary of the Abiquiú grant. He appointed "two of the oldest men of the jurisdiction who have been raised from childhood as shepherds in Vallecitos so they might point out to me the road to Tiquas that goes to Navajo."[43] In addition, each side was to name an arbitrator, and Alcalde Vigil was to name a third in case the other two did not agree. The focus would be on locating the road and then checking its location through a measurement.

The Abiquiú genízaros did not like this procedure because there were so many old roads in the area, any one of them could be the road in question. The genízaros refused to participate in the proceedings, which caused the alcalde to rail against them, "indeed these genízaros only try to disturb the order of the proceedings."[44] The genízaros were wise to boycott the proceedings, for the road that Alcalde Vigil identified was only 5,704 varas from the pueblo church on the north side of the pueblo: "having arrived at the landmark where the league of commons mentioned in the said grant reaches and seven hundred and four varas more where the old men say, that is the road to Navajo."[45]

Because the Abiquiú genízaros Pueblo were dissatisfied with the October 1831 measurement and had not participated in the procedure, Alcalde Vigil decided to make one more attempt to satisfy the Abiquiú genízaro pueblo and the Spaniards of the Vallecitos grant. It took almost a year, however, before he could get both sides to go to the land. Even so, the situation was so volatile that Alcalde Vigil had to appoint "fifteen of the principal citizens of the jurisdiction to assist me in the delivery of the said lands." [46] Undoubtedly, these principal citizens did not include any genízaros, for this alcalde's posse was insufficient to keep the peace. As soon as Alcalde Vigil tried to again measure the land of Abiquiú pueblo as he had done the year before, he was attacked by two of the genízaro leaders stirring up the rest of the pueblo "with a tumult of the whole pueblo of old men, young men, and women trying to take the documents from my hands. . . [and] shaking the bridle reins of my horse with his hand after several ignominies and insolent arguments with which they insulted me."[47] Initially, Alcalde Vigil had intended to measure only 5,000 varas south from the pueblo and then measure "the surplus until he reached the road to Navajo."[48] Referring to the Abiquiú ejido as surplus land was not what the genízaro pueblo had in mind and after the forcible display of their displeasure Alcalde Vigil quickly reversed himself, ordering that the lands should be measured from the pueblo 5,000 Castilian varas. Immediately thereafter there should be measured for commons another 5,000 varas, where the alcalde found "the road to the Tiguas that goes to Navajo and an old landmark."[49] This landmark does not appear to be the one erected the 1829 proceedings and was probably established at the time Vélez Cachupín made the grant in 1754. This was the end of the litigation of Abiquiú's southern boundary, but the northern boundary remained a matter of controversy sixty years later before the Court of Private Land Claims.

The Abiquiú grant was submitted to the Court of Private Land Claims in 1892 and confirmed in 1894. Chief Justice Joseph R. Reid's decision confirming the grant specifically mentioned the Vélez Cachupín's 1754 grant to a group of "converted half-breed Indians," and confirmed the grant with the following boundaries: "on the north, the Chama River; on the south, the highway formerly called the Teguas Road, leading to Navajo; on the east, the source (nacimiento) of the arroyo which descends along the border of the pueblo (or lands of the Plaza de la Capilla); and on the west, the hill (alto) of the Rio de las Frijoles, and the lands formerly of Geronimo Martín."[50] When Deputy Surveyor Sherrard Coleman surveyed it, the grant was found to contain a little more than 16,500 acres, about 1,000 acres short of four square leagues. The claimants protested the location of the northern boundary at the Chama River, arguing that the line should be established along the Chama River as it flowed in 1754. The Land Claims Court overruled the protest and a patent was finally issued to the Abiquiú Board of Grant Commissioners on 11 November 1909. Later a copy was made of the grant at the request of los principales of the Pueblo as ordered by Governor Mendinueta[51].

The measurement of the Abiquiú grant was similar to that of the Sandia grant, the only original grant made to the Pueblo Indians (all other grants to the Pueblo Indians were Cruzate grants, later determined to be forged but legitimate in that they granted the Pueblos the four square leagues (17,712 acres) to which they were entitled.[52]

Governor Vélez Cachupín later mentioned the fact that he had placed sixty families in possession of the Abiquiú grant in a document concerning a witchcraft trial at Abiquiú in 1764, but by 1776 when Father Dominquez made his visitation there were only forty-six families of 136 persons at the pueblo.[53] The pueblo had been abandoned just prior to 1770 when Governor Pedro Fermín del Mendinueta (1767-1778), ordered that Abiquiú Pueblo again be resettled. [54]

By the early 1800s Indian raids were less of a threat to Abiquiú Pueblo than sales by individual Indians of Abiquiú land. Several times the pueblo as a whole sought to set aside such sales and received favorable rulings in 1815 from Governor Alberto Maynez (1814-1816), in 1822 from Governor Francisco Xavier Chavez, and in 1824 from Alcalde Francisco Trujillo.[55]

The southern boundary of the Abiquiú genízaro grant was the subject of a long dispute with the Vallecitos de San Antonio, or Vallecitos grant to the south between the 1820s and 1831 when the dispute was finally settled. The primary issue was the location of the road to Navajo[land]. The remaining genízaros at the pueblo almost rioted when an attempt was made to locate the road 5,000 varas south of the center of the pueblo instead of the 10,000 varas called for in the Vélez Cachupín grant. Finally a measurement of approximately 10,000 varas was made south of the center of the pueblo where the road (probably the beginning of the Old Spanish Trail) was found near an old boundary marker (probably the one set by Vélez Cachupín in 1754).[56]

The Abiquiú grant was submitted to the Court of Private Land Claims in 1892 and confirmed in 1894. When surveyed by Deputy Surveyor Sherrand Coleman, it was found to contain a little more than 16,500 acres, about 1,000 acres short of four square leagues.  The claimants protested the location of the northern boundary at the Rio Chama, arguing that the line should be established along the Rio Chama as it flowed in 1754.   The Land Claims Court overruled the protest and a patent was finally issued to the Abiquiú Board of Grant Commissioners on 11 November 1909.[57]


[1] Among the early grants around Abiquiú were the Cristóbal Torres grant in 1724 (SANM I: 943), and the 1734 grant to Bartolomé Trujillo and nine others (SANM I: 954). In 1747 Governor Codallos y Rabal ordered the Abiquiú settlers to abandon their lands on pain of a five hundred peso fine (SANM I: 28).

[2] In 1750 Viceroy Revilla Gigedo ordered the resettlement of Abiquiú, and in that year seven Spanish heads of families and thirteen genízaros were settled at Abiquiú, SANM I: 1100. The 1754 genízaro grant is at SG 140, roll 26, frames 281 et seq.

[3] Recopilación de Leyes de los Reynos de las Indias, 4 vol. (Madrid: Ivlian de Paredes, 1681), Book 6, title 3, law 8.

[4] Abiquiú grant, SG 140, r. 26, f. 281-82.

[5] For a comparison of the land grant policies of Governors Mendinueta and Vélez Cachupín, particularly as they relate to Indians, see Malcolm Ebright, "Breaking New Ground: A Reappraisal of Governors Vélez Cachupín and Mendinueta and Their Land Grant Policies," Colonial Latin American Historical Review (Spring 1996): 195-233.

[6] Governor Pedro Fermín Mendinueta, Decree, Santa Fe, 31 March 1769, SANM I: 656 

[7] For genízaros staying at Ojo Caliente, see Alcalde Antonio José Ortiz, Inspection, Ojo Caliente, 11 June 1769, SANM I: 656.

[8] Adams, Bishop Tamaron's Visitation, 64. 

[9] Adams and Chávez, Missions of New Mexico, 126.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Mateo García, Manuel Montoya, and Mariano Martín to Alcalde Santiago Salazar, Abiquiú, 18 September 1820 and testimony of Manuel Martín before Juez Comisario Francisco de Hozio,
[Abiquiú], 21 October 1820. Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, 15, State Records Center and Archives, Santa Fe.

[12] Nadie puede vender tierras del pueblo, y si alguna se ha vendido, es compra nula y de ninguín valor. Governor Alberto Máynez, Decree, Santa Fe, 22 May 1815, SANM I: 208.

[13] Malcolm Ebright and Rick Hendricks, "The Pueblo League and Pueblo Indian Land in New Mexico, 1692-1846," in Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Archives. (El Paso: Book Publishers of El Paso, 2001), 4:114-22, 141-52; G. Emlen Hall and David J. Weber. "Mexican Liberals and the Pueblo Indians, 1821-1829" New Mexico Historical Review 59 (January 1984):5; Hall, "Juan Estevan Pino, "Se Los Coma": New Mexico Land Speculation in the 1820s," New Mexico Historical Review 59 (January 1982): 27-42; and Ebright, "Advocates for the Oppressed," 305-39.

[14] García de la Mora to Governor Vizcarra, Santa Fe, 3 March 1823; and Governor Vizcarra, Decree, Santa Fe, 13 April 1823, SANM I: 208.

[15] Garcia de la Mora to Governor Vizcarra, [Santa Fe], [13] April 1823, SANM I: 208; and Garcia de la Mora to the commandant general. 

[16] Ibid.

[17] Miro ya a este pueblo no como a tal, y si como a una plaza de vecinos sujetos a diezmos, primacias y demas obvenciones y de consiguente . . . debe seguirse el reparto de tierras en iguales partes . . . los vecinos pobres que no tengan [tierras]. Ibid.

[18] Jesús María Mena, Opinion, Chihuahua, 20 June 1823, adopted by commandante general Gaspar de Ochoa, Chihuahua, 21 June 1823, SANM I: 208. For a discussion of the commandency general during the Spanish period, see Marc Simmons, Spanish Government in New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968), 9-24. 

[19] Francisco Jaramillo, Decree, Abiquiú, 20 April 1824, SANM I: 208. 

[20] Governor Bartolomé Baca to Alcalde Francisco Trujillo, Santa Fe, 5 April 1824; and Francisco Trujillo on behalf of Abiquiú Pueblo to Governor Baca, Abiquiú, 8 April 1824, SANM I: 208.

[21] Governor Baca ruled that "the said land must be farmed by the legitimate owners, [and] . . . until title . . . has been cleared no obstruction shall be placed against the present owners."  Governor Bartolomé Baca, Decree, Santa Cruz de la Cañada, 4 May 1824. See also Francisco Marquez, Francisco Trujillo, and Miguel Antonio García on behalf of Abiquiú pueblo, Petition to Governor Baca, Santa Fe, 13 May 1824, SANM I: 208.

[22] Francisco Trujillo, Order, Abiquiú, 18 May SANM I: 208:1824,       

[23] Ignacio María Sánchez Vergara, Petition on behalf of Abiquiú Pueblo, 22 May 1824, SANM I: 208.

[24] Ignacio María Sánchez Vergara, Approval of sale of pueblo lands to María Manuela Perea, Jemez, 20 February 1819, SANM I: 208.

[25] Pedro Ignacio Gallegos, Declaration, Abiquiú, 18 May 1824, SANM I: 208.

[26] Petition of the genízaros of Abiquiú, signed by Francisco Trujillo, Abiquiú, [20 April 1824], SANM I:208.

[27] Ibid.

[28] La venta nula, y devuelva la tierra a la comunidad. MANM, r. 42, f. 11-12.

[29] Genízaros of Abiquiú v. Father Alcina, Abiquiú, 18 May 1824, SANM I: 208.

[30] Cristóbal Quintana, Petition, [May] 1825, Governor Bartolomé Baca, Decree, 2 May 1825, and Juan Cristóbal Quintana, Petition, 4 May 1825, Town of Abiquiú Grant, PLC 52, r. 38, f. 884 et seq.

[31] Governor Alberto Máynez, Decree, Santa Fe, 22 May 1815, SANM I: 208; and Francisco Trujillo, Order, Abiquiú, 18 May 1824, SANM I: 208. Governor Chávez’s decree is quoted in one of Francisco Trujillo's petitions. It reads in part as follows, "I provide that at once you demand the return to the pueblo of Abiquiú of the lands belonging to their grant, and without delay, immediately, and without any excuse." Alcalde Francisco Trujillo, Report, Abiquiú, 8 April 1824, SANM I: 208.

[32] In his petition to Governor Bartolomé Baca in 1825, Santiago Salazar said that he had purchased land from fourteen Abiquiú members. SANM I: 1066. In 1824 María Manuela Perea told Governor Baca that she had purchased land from natives of the pueblo, but Alcalde José García de la Mora had refused to deliver possession to her. SANM I: 709.

[33] Swadesh, Primeros Pobladores, 49.                             

[34] Ebright, "Advocates for the Oppressed," 308, 323-30.

[35] Donde los Indios puedan tener sus ganados, sin que serevuelan con otros de españoles. Recopilación.

[36] No ser en perjuicio de los indios del pueblo de Abiquiú; de sus sementeras y ejidos. Governor Tomás Vélez Cachupín, Grant, Santa Fe, 12 February 1766, Polvadera grant, SG 131, r. 25.

[37] The Polvadera grant was confirmed by the Court of Private Land Claims in August, 1893 and was surveyed at over 35,000 acres, 5,000 acres of which conflicted with the Abiquiú and Juan José Lobato grants. The survey was approved and a patent was issued in September 1900. J. J. Bowden, "Private land claims in the Southwest" (Master's Thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1969), 1,088-89.

[38] Hall and Weber, "Mexican Liberals," 5-32.

[39] Abiquiú grant, Bowden, "Private Land Claims," 1,101-1102.

[40] Del centro del pueblo se le midan al sur cinco mil varas de tierra lindando al frente del referido pueblo el CaminoReal de los teguas que va para Navajo.

[41] The lawsuit between the Abiquiú grant and the Vallecitos grant is discussed in Swadesh, Primeros Pobladores, 54-57.

[42] No es fácil encontrar en un archivo como tan antiguo este, documentos viejos y más cuando no se expresa la fecha de ellos. Governor José Antonio Chávez to the regidor in charge of the administration of justice at Abiquiú.

[43] Dos hombres los más ancianos de la jurisdición que se han criado desde tiernos en el Vallecito de pastores para que me señalaran el camino de los tiguas que va para Navajo. Alcalde José Francisco Vigil to Governor Chávez, Abiquiú, 10 October 1831, Abiquiú grant, PLC 52, r. 38, f. 899.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Quince ciuidadanos principales de las jurisdicion que asistieron con migo a las entrega de dicha tierras. Alcalde José Francisco Vigil, Report, Abiquiú, 21 September 1832. Abiquiú grant, SG 52, r. 38, f. 306.

[47] Con tumulto de todo el pueblo de viejos, mancebos, y mujeres queriendo quitarme de las manos los documentos sacudiendo con la mano la rienda del freno de mi caballo después de varios oprobios y razones insolentes con que me insultaron. Ibid.

[48] Lo sobrante hasta encontrarme con el camino de los teguas que va para Navajo. Ibid.

[49] El camino de los teguas que va a Navajo y una mojonera antiqua. Ibid.

[50] Chief Justice Joseph R. Reid, Opinion, Abiquiú grant, SG 140, r. 26, f. 441-42. Chapter 6

[51] Abiquiú grant, SG 140, Roll 26, fr. 281-82.

[52] Regarding Cruzate grants, see Sandra Matthew-Lamb.

[53] Vélez Cachupín's statement that he settled sixty genízaro families at Abiquiú appears in his report to the viceroy about a witchcraft outbreak at the genízaro pueblo of Abiquiú, Governor Vélez Cachupín to Viceroy Marques de Ervillas, Santa Fe, 28 March 1764, AGN, Inquisición, Expediente 12, Mexico City. For Father Domínquez'es visitation and census, see Eleanor B. Adams and Fray Angelico Chavez, Translators and Annotators, The Missions of New Mexico, 1776: A Description by Fray Francisco Atanasio Dominguez, with other Contemporary Documents (Albuquerque: The University of New Mexico Press, 1956), 120-26.

[54] Governor Mendinueta Decree Ordering the Resettlement of Abiquiú, Santa Fe, 6 November 1770, SANM I: 36.

[55] Decree of Governor Máynez, Santa Fe, 22 May 1815; order of Alcalde Francisco Trujillo, Abiquiú, 18 May 1824; Decree of Governor Chavez quoted in Report of Alcalde Trujillo, Abiquiú, 8 April 1824, SANM I: 208.

[56] Abiquiú grant, SG52, Roll 38, fr. 306 et seq.

[57] J. J. Bowden, "Private Land Claims in the Southwest." 6 vols. (Master's thesis, Southern Methodist University, 1969), 4:1106-7.