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Types of Land Grants

Explanation of Types of Land Grants in New Mexico

by Malcolm Ebright and Robin Collier

          Hispano Community

Grants made to a group of Hispanos that included common lands in the grant at the outset. Settlers would receive small tracts of private land for their houses and garden plots with the right to use the remaining common lands for pasturing their cattle, gathering firewood and logs for building, hunting wild game, and gathering other resources, such as herbs and stone. Settlers owned their private tracts outright after four years and could sell them. The sale of a private tract by an individual carried with it the right to use the common lands, but the common lands could not be sold because the community owned them.

Hispano Quasi-community
Grants made to Hispano individuals who owned the entire grant and could sell it after the four-year possession requirement was met. Unlike Hispano/private grants however, Hispano/quasi-community grants included an explicit or implied promise by the grantee to bring other settlers on the grant, and when those settlers arrived, the grant would be operated like a community grant. The new settlers would receive tracts of private land with the implied right to use the unallotted land for grazing, wood gathering, and other traditional uses. In US courts, these rights have been not enforceable by the users of the "common lands" unless they were expressed in writing. See Lobato v. Taylor opinion re the Taylor Ranch in the San Luis Valley.

Hispano Emigration
These were grants made to Mexican citizens who wished to remain Mexicans and not become US citizens after the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. These grants were made by the Commissioners of Emigration in Northern Mexico to citizens who left New Mexico to settle in Mexico in these grants. Ironically, some of these grants later become part of the US when the US purchased additional land in the Dodson Purchase. Some of these grants were disallowed by the US on the basis that they were made to person not residing in New Mexico at the time of the grant.

Hispano Empresario
These were grants made by the Mexican government, more often in Texas, to encourage settlement or "colonization." The "Empresario" was required to recruit a certain number of settlers in a four-year period and in return, was allowed a grant of four square leagues for themselves.

Hispano Grazing
This was a grant to individual Hispanos for the purposes of grazing their livestock. Settlement on the land was not required by law, for example the Cochiti Pasture Grant.

Hispano Mining
These were grants made for mining only, which only required a Douncement of a mining claim. The Spanish and Mexican government retained certain rights over these claims including levies on proceeds.

Hispano Private
Grants made to Hispano individuals who owned the entire grant and could sell it after the four-year possession requirement was met. These grants did not include common lands, either at the outset or later.

Hispano Protective
These were grants made to protect the rights of an existing grant, for example up stream water rights. They may not have required settlement. For example, the Rancho del Río Grande in Taos.

Pueblo Community
Community grants made to a Native American Pueblo. Since the majority of Native American land holdings in New Mexico were of a communal nature, there were no private Native American grants.

Pueblo Grazing
These are grants made to a Native American Pueblo for the purpose of grazing Native American-owned livestock with no legal requirement to settle the land. An example of this type of grant is the grazing grant made to the pueblo of Cochiti by Governor Vélez Cachupín in 1766.

Pueblo Cruzate
These are grants to New Mexico Pueblos by Governor Domingo Jironza Petriz de Cruzate (1683‑1686 and 1689‑1691). The grants are not in the usual form of land grants, but rather purport to be the testimony of a Zia Native American named Bartolomé Ojeda, who was captured in 1689 after the Pueblo Revolt. Ojeda is asked as to each Pueblo whether he thought that pueblo would revolt again and he answers "no, that [Picuris] would not fail to render obedience [to the Spaniards]." Accordingly, Governor Cruzate makes a grant of four square leagues of land (about 17,700 acres) to each pueblo. Under Hispanic law and custom, the pueblos were considered to be entitled to four square leagues even without a grant. The Cruzate grants submitted to Surveyor General William Pelham were all confirmed by Congress, though they were later determined to be spurious. Since the pueblos were entitled to four square leagues of land in any case, the spurious character of the Cruzate grants is of little consequence from a legal standpoint.

Pueblo Protective
These were grants made to protect the rights of an existing Pueblo grant, in addition to their four square leagues, for example up stream water rights. For example, see the Cañada de Santa Clara.

Pueblo Purchased
These were grants that began as Hispano grants and were purchased by Pueblos to increase the common lands of the Pueblo. For example, the Laguna Pueblo Tracts.

Congressional Grants
These are grants made after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by Congress, when there was no basis for the grant under Spanish or Mexican law. For example, the Benjamin E. Edwards grant or the Baca float grants.

Fraudulent Grants
These are grants that were either never made or, not properly made, by the Spanish or Mexican Governments. These were later claimed, either on the basis of forged documents, or by asserting that conditions had not been met, or approvals that had not been made.