Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume IX

July 2004

Number VI


Current Issue




About Us




 Amy Goodman Comes to Taos By Aspen Meleski

Taylor Ranch: A Victory for La Gente

Collaborative Forest Restoration Project By Kay Matthews and Mark Schiller

 In Memory of Geoff Bryce


The G.A.O. Land Grant Report: A Whitewash and Slap in the Face By Malcolm Ebright, Land Grant Historian

Amy Goodman Comes to Taos

By Aspen Meleski

On May 30th Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now!, came to Taos to speak at an event sponsored by Peace Action New Mexico, Cultural Energy, and KRZA 88.7 FM.

Taos was just one stop on Amy's seventy-city "Exception to the Rulers" book tour, promoting her book The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. The book offers Amy's perspective on world events, the motives of those in power, the Bush administration, and the corruption of the media.

Who's Reading La Jicarita?

Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now!

Amy was impressed by the size of the crowd, which was estimated at seven or eight hundred people. After the fire marshal was brought in to threaten evacuation, several hundred people were sent outside to the park where KTAO radio set up speakers to broadcast her speech.

Amy's cheerful, easy demeanor put the crowd at ease immediately; she spoke as if she were speaking to old friends. Her talk was full of humor as well as tragedy, as she told stories ranging from her experience on the Sally Jessie Rafael show where Sally Jessie had to be rocked and soothed by her stage crew because she was so incensed at Amy's outspokenness against the war in Iraq, to her story of being in East Timor during a peaceful demonstration by the Timorese when the Indonesian army opened fire upon the crowd and she was nearly killed.

After the speech, Amy signed books for the indoor crowd, and when the room had emptied, the people who were outside came in and got their books signed. The line in front of Amy's table was excited and happy, and the room was bursting with the noisy crowd swarming around her, vying for the chance to shake her hand.

Although speaking about serious issues, Amy was able to leave the audience feeling empowered and inspired, rather than discouraged and hopeless. She spoke of her belief in the power of every individual to make a difference, stressing the importance of staying active and involved.

Amy Goodman's daily news show, Democracy Now! can be heard on 89.9 FM KUNM Albuquerque at 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and on 88.7 FM KRZA Alamosa-Taos at 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday. It also airs on Dish Net, channel 9415, at 5:00 pm, and cable TV stations (check local listings), and is streamed via the Internet at www.democracynow.org

Taylor Ranch: A Victory for La Gente

For the first time in 44 years the gates of the Taylor Ranch were opened on June 11 to three truck loads of land grant heirs, activists and San Luis supporters who had been barred from the former Sangre de Cristo Land Grant by a succession of private owners. They came directly to the ranch from their victory in Costilla County District Court, where Judge Gaspar Perricone granted immediate access to the nine heirs in title to the former land grant.

While the Colorado Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in 2002, had already upheld the use rights of heirs to their former common lands for livestock grazing and timber and firewood harvesting, the plaintiffs found themselves back in district court because current ranch owner Lou Pai filed a motion trying to restrict access. He claimed that because he wasn't a party to the original lawsuit brought against previous owner Jack Taylor in 1982 he didn't have to abide by Supreme Court's decision.

A day after the court hearing one of the plaintiffs leads his small herd of cattle through the ranch gates

Perricone also ruled that the larger class of people included in the lawsuit, other heirs in title to the grant, will eventually gain access rights to the ranch For the first time in 44 years the gates of the Taylor Ranch were opened on June 11 to three truck loads of land grant heirs, activists and San Luis supporters who had been barred from the former Sangre de Cristo Land Grant by a succession of private owners. They came directly to the ranch from their victory in Costilla County District Court, where Judge Gaspar Perricone granted immediate access to the nine heirs in title to the former land grant.

While the Colorado Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in 2002, had already upheld the use rights of heirs to their former common lands for livestock grazing and timber and firewood harvesting, the plaintiffs found themselves back in district court because current ranch owner Lou Pai filed a motion trying to restrict access. He claimed that because he wasn't a party to the original lawsuit brought against previous owner Jack Taylor in 1982 he didn't have to abide by Supreme Court's decision.

Perricone also ruled that the larger class of people included in the lawsuit, other heirs in title to the grant, will eventually gain access rights to the ranch as well. He appointed a local title company owner to advise the court who the successors in title are, research that will take approximately a year to complete. According to Arnie Valdez, planning director for the management of the 77,000 former common lands called La Sierra, it is anticipated that there will be a close correlation between property owners of the Costilla Valley vara strips, or irrigable fields, and the settlement of the land grant at the time of Governor Gilpin's ownership in the late 1890s. To pay for the research, Perricone ordered the defendants (both current owner Lou Pai and the estate of Jack Taylor, the former owner) to make an initial $25,000 payment to the court.

Perricone made it clear that while the nine heirs identified in the suit have immediate access rights "I'm not going to restrict the plaintiffs on who they want to bring on the land." He also will allow a team of experts hired by the Land Rights Council, the San Luis-based land grant advocacy organization that has long been involved in the case, access to the ranch to begin work on an inventory of the resources in preparation for developing a management plan.

Valdez is thrilled to be able to begin the on-the-ground work for the Sustainable Land Use Rights Management Plan and Community Organizing Project: "For the first time in the history of the land struggle the community now has a voice in the planning process, helping to facilitate the development of a sustainable land use plan for the mountain tract." He is putting together a team of professional environmental consultants and local people to gather updated information on soils, water, and plant and animal resources on La Sierra. A biological resources inventory will be conducted by Colorado State University. Historic areas of grazing, access points and historic roadways will be examined for the cattle drive routes, and three major stream basins will be inspected for carrying capacity (this summer, the court will allow 300 head of cattle on the ranch). Traditional wood gathering and timbering areas will be mapped. While the land use plan is being drafted, the Land Rights Council will develop a high school and adult curriculum in sustainable land use management practices.

A status conference with Judge Perricone to review progress on the title search and discuss issues will be help on September 20, 2004. Until then, the celebrating continues, but so does the work to ensure that La Sierra, the common lands that so many years ago sustained the residents of the Costilla Valley, be managed for the health of the land and the people.

While the Taylor Ranch case has no bearing on land grant adjudications carried out by the Surveyor General, the Court of Private Land Claims, and the Supreme Court, there are New Mexico land grants, such as Las Trampas, that could be affected by this decision. The Las Trampas Lumber Company, which bought this grant after it was partitioned, issued land use agreements to community members to graze domestic animals and cut and collect wood. The Forest Service, which later acquired the grant, has never acknowledged the legitimacy of this agreement.

Collaborative Forest Restoration Project

By Kay Matthews and Mark Schiller

Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a two-part article regarding the Collaborative Forest Restoration Project, a $5 million per year Forest Service Region 3 forest restoration program. In this issue we will provide a general critique of the successes and failures of the program, and in the August issue we will take a closer look at the project grant proposals: who got funded, who didn't, and why.

Since 2001 La Jicarita News has been monitoring federal programs that fund wildland/urban interface projects designed to restore our overgrown forests and stimulate community economic development. In particular, we have watched and written extensively about the Collaborative Forest Restoration Project (CFRP), a USDA Forest Service Region 3 program, now in its fourth year of operation.

In a 2002 letter to the New Mexico congressional delegation, La Jicarita News submitted a critique of CFRP, which detailed ongoing problems with regard to the effectiveness and fairness of the program. While CFRP monies are also spent developing innovative ways to utilize small diameter trees, a very limited amount of forest restoration has been completed. According to the Forest Service, as of March 2004, with grants of $11.8 million dispersed, a total of 3,992 acres have been treated (95% of grantees reporting), with a projected total acreage of 11,126. Acres treated include 1,805 of mixed conifer/ponderosa pine, 1,398 of piñon pine/juniper, and 789 of bosque. Many community foresters believe this limited amount of acreage is not because of their failure to put people to work in the forest but because of fundamental problems inherent in the program.

Competition for Grants

The application and granting processes have tended to create unhealthy competition and divisions within the forestry community rather than promoting collaboration. The Forest Service has failed to establish clear lines of communication between the agency and community forestry groups and among the foresters themselves. Therefore, individual applications result in competition for, rather than coordination in, equipment, labor, insurance, and NEPA-ready projects. Foresters were aware of this problem at the outset of the funding process and consequently began to organize an advocacy group, the New Mexico Community-Based Forestry Alliance, to coordinate their efforts. One of the main roles projected for the Alliance was to act as liaison between the community foresters and the Forest Service so that the funding process would be more equitable and efficient. Over a period of two years, Forest Service personnel met with the Alliance and encouraged the group to formalize the organization and apply during the 2002 granting cycle to the National Fire Plan for operating expenses. However, the Alliance proposal was not funded.

Moreover, the CFRP grant proposal format is extremely complicated and cumbersome and therefore discriminatory towards those groups that cannot afford to hire professional grant writers. Many of the funded proposals have been from agencies such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Native American pueblos, and cities, entities that often have professional proposal writers on staff. The Alliance also brought this issue to the attention of the Forest Service and included funding for grant writers in its proposal.

NEPA-ready Lands

The Forest Service has misled community foresters about how much forest land is NEPA ready and immediately available for contract. While grant guidelines stipulate that forestry groups specify where restoration work will take place, it has been difficult for these organizations to actually pin down the Forest Service as to where NEPA-ready land is available. Unfortunately, even when NEPA assessments are in place, work has often been stalled because of other bureaucratic issues. El Greco, a community forestry business based in Truchas, was awarded a CFRP grant in 2003 to restore forests in both the Santa Fe and Carson national forests. In a letter of support, the Española district ranger stated that an area of Borrego Mesa in the Santa Fe was "ready to go" under stewardship contracts. According to company president Max Córdova, his workers have yet to enter the area because of an appeal of the Borrego Salvage Project by Forest Guardians, Forest Conservation Council, Wild Watershed, and Santa Fe Forest Watch. The appeal was denied, but El Greco then found out the Forest Service didn't have other necessary clearances in place, and last week the Santa Fe forests were shut down due to fire danger.

Building Community Capacity

CFRP fails to address the fundamental need to build community capacity with a long-term funding program. Many of the community groups that have applied are just beginning to build the infrastructure, including equipment, training of the labor force, development of business skills, and insurance coverage, that is necessary to provide long-term viability. Because many of the areas that need to be treated are not NEPA ready, community forestry businesses need to have access to funding that helps them build capacity so they are ready to bid on contracts as they become available. These needs cannot be met by the limited funding cycles offered by the CFRP program. Community forestry groups are extremely vulnerable to the vicissitudes both within the funding programs and the Forest Service, whose management decisions are made without their input. At a November 2001 meeting with the Forest Service, sponsored by the New Mexico Community-Based Forestry Alliance, then Carson Forest Planner Carveth Kramer admitted, "The Forest Service hasn't done a good job of getting people to the table to help decide where we're going to commit the money for a NEPA analysis."

Furthermore, many community foresters believe that too much of the funding is going to groups that provide technical assistance rather than to community foresters engaged in on-the-ground-work. For example, in the critique of one such proposal that was funded, the CFRP committee itself stated that the project "does not indicate that community members were involved in the development of the project" and "the proposal does not build local capacity or development and implementation levels, nor does it take into consideration the existing capacity in the community."

Particularly discouraging is the fact that no grants have been awarded in the Vallecitos Sustained Yield Unit, an area in the Carson where there are more NEPA-ready forest lands than any other place in northern New Mexico (and, of course, where the economic needs of the small villages throughout the Unit are supposed to be a high priority for the Forest Service). Luis Torres, a longtime norteño activist and former head of La Madera Forest Products, told La Jicarita that the El Rito district ranger pressured the Vallecitos-based for-profit organization, Alfonso Chacon & Sons, for whom Torres wrote a 2004 CFRP proposal, and Las Comunidades, a non-profit group also based in the Unit, to submit a joint proposal. "How were we going to do that," Torres asked, "when one group is for-profit and the other is non-profit?" Neither organization was funded. Ike DeVargas, founding member of La Companía Ocho, a longtime small timber company in the Unit, laments the adversarial climate created among La Companía, Las Comunidades, Madera, and other small operators: "We should have been working together once we got rid of Duke City. But the Forest Service, Bill Richardson, and some of our own people put us in a position where we were competing with each other."

Forest Contracts

The Forest Service has failed to develop a process that allows for more flexibility in dispersing contracts. Individual districts are bound to obsolete systems they have previously used to award timber contracts: these sales have been either too large for the capacity of local foresters, too small to generate adequate income, or too scattered to sustain a locally-based operator. For example, because El Greco's CFRP grant is being administered by the Santa Fe National Forest, the Carson has informed Córdova that it will not be supplying any NEPA-ready areas for his company. "I don't understand why they are creating these imaginary boundaries," Córdova said. "We need work in both forests to make our project work."

Dispersal of Funding

Once the grants have been awarded to community groups, the Forest Service system for dispersal of the monies is cumbersome and inefficient. El Greco had to wait months for reimbursement on its 2001 CFRP contract, has repeatedly had to resubmit invoices for reimbursement because of loss or misplacement, and has been misled about what information is necessary for reimbursement. Meanwhile, their resources have been severely taxed by having to cover these expenses.

Review Process

The CFRP grant proposal review process has long been criticized as being unfair and discriminatory. The purpose of the CFRP Technical Advisory Panel is to evaluate proposals and provide recommendations on funding. The 12-15 member panel includes: a State Natural Resources official; at least two representatives from federal land management agencies; at least one tribal or pueblo representative; at least two independent scientists; and equal representation from conservation interests, local communities, and commodity interests.

Luis Torres points out that the make-up of the evaluation committee is inherently discriminatory because members are not paid for their services, thus precluding community people - or "poor people", as Torres frankly says, from participating. Most of the members of the committee represent private or non-profit organizations and government institutions who are on salary during their participation in the process. It is a problem that is endemic to collaborative efforts in New Mexico: Over the years, community activists have made it pro forma at any community meeting with public lands managers to acknowledge those people who are attending the meeting without compensation.

The make-up of the committee has led to the complaint that some members of the review team have a clear conflict of interest because of their membership in groups that submitted proposals. In an article that appeared in The Santa Fe New Mexican in March of 2003, these concerns were publicly aired. The following review committee members directly represent groups that received funding: Ron Martinez, formerly of La Jicarita Enterprise and now with Highlands University, both of which received funding; Melissa Savage of the Four Corners Institute, which received $255,875 (she is also a consultant to Forest Trust, which received $349,530 in 2002); Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Catron County Citizens Group, which received funding in 2001; George Ramirez, Las Humanas, which received money in 2001; Phil Archuleta of P & M Plastics, which received funding in 2002; and Alvin Warren of Santa Clara Pueblo, which received $344,642.

Walter Dunn, the regional forest officer who oversees the project, denied there is a conflict of interest because project members leave the room when their project is being discussed. He defends the make-up of the committee as those who are knowledgeable about forest and cultural issues, as opposed to a committee comprised of independent consultants or people from out of state. Torres' response to this is that there are plenty of people who live and work in the forests "north of La Bajada Hill" who aren't affiliated with groups submitting proposals and who would be happy to sit on the committee if they could receive remuneration for their efforts.

The recommended term limit for committee members is two years, but they can be reappointed. Subsequent to the New Mexican article, the make-up of the evaluation committed was changed for the 2004 granting cycle (membership for the 2001-2003 cycles was essentially the same). There are still several people on the 2004 committee who represent grantee organizations.

Torres also claimed that the evaluation committee failed to judge proposals on the criteria that has been outlined in the program's guidelines. In next month's article we will take a closer look at the proposals, the criteria by which they were judged, and how committee members ranked them in an effort to determine the fairness of the process and the effectiveness of the program in general.

In Memory of Geoff Bryce

Geoff Bryce, director of the Taos Valley Acequia Association and board member of the New Mexico Acequia Association and Wool Traditions, was killed in a car accident on June 16 in Taos. Geoff will be remembered as a kind, caring, articulate, culturally sensitive, and effective advocate by all of us in the acequia community. As director of the TVAA, he was actively involved in the the Taos Valley adjudication, contributing his vast knowledge of acequias and water issues and his ability to get along with all factions in the community to what will hopefully be an equitable and precedent-setting settlement.

I particularly remember a workshop designed to impart better organizational and communication skills that I participated in with Geoff, many years ago in Santa Fe. We had broken down into affinity groups; Geoff and I were in a group focused on water issues. Also in the group was an environmentalist from the southern part of the state, who immediately started complaining about what he considered the wasteful agricultural practices of the acequia community and the need to implement instream flow legislation. In a quiet, non-confrontational way, Geoff quickly set him straight about the environmental, social, and cultural importance of acequias and reminded him that if he wanted to participate in meaningful dialogue about water issues he better educate himself tout de suite about acequias. The environmentalist decided to join another affinity group.

Mark and I extend our deepest sympathy to Geoff's family and friends.

- Kay Matthews


As we reported in the September issue of La Jicarita, Placitas citizens continue to battle a proposed water transfer of surface water from Valencia County to groundwater wells in the Overlook subdivision. After losing a protest hearing and a motion for summary judgement, the protestants (Lynn Montgomery, Robert Wesseley and Catherine Harris) have filed a court appeal, claiming the transfer will impair existing surface water rights in the "move-to" (Placitas) area. The protestants are represented by Taos water attorney Mary Humphrey. La Jicarita will continue to follow the case and update readers as necessary.

The G.A.O. Land Grant Report: A Whitewash and Slap in the Face

By Malcolm Ebright, Land Grant Historian

After four years of "work" the General Accounting Office has spoken. In its 222 page report: Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: Findings and Possible Options Regarding Longstanding Community Land Grant Claims in New Mexico, dated June 2004, the G.A.O. found that the United States government has fully met its responsibilities under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo regarding its promise to protect property rights in Spanish and Mexican land grants. The G.A.O. arrived at this conclusion without examining in detail specific land grant documents or the Spanish and Mexican laws and customs under which the grants were made, and without arriving at any standard of its own by which to measure whether the treaty's promises were fulfilled. The first e-mail reaction I received to the report was: "It's a whitewash." I would go further: the report is a slap in the face.

Illustration by Glen T. Strock, from Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico

The G.A.O. report is neither independent, unbiased, nor objective. It is, rather, a partisan brief for the government, rationalizing, as the government has been trying to do since land grants were first "adjudicated" by the Surveyor General of New Mexico in 1854, why these adjudications were fair. In fact, they were often not fair by any standard. As a result of government deliberations pursuant to the treaty some valid grants were rejected entirely (Embudo); some valid grants were partially rejected (San Joaquín del Rio de Chama, San Miguel del Bado); some valid grants were confirmed to the wrong people (Tierra Amarilla); some valid grants were confirmed to the right people but with the wrong boundaries (Truchas); and some invalid grants were confirmed (Sebastián de Vargas, the Baca Locations). The Surveyor General's proceedings lacked due process of law and the decisions of the Court of Private Land Claims and the Supreme Court were often mistaken in their interpretation of Spanish and Mexican law. Land grant scholars have been pointing this out for decades in well-documented peer-reviewed publications. How come this long-awaited, so-called independent study got it so wrong?

We may never know, but I believe the report's conclusion that the U.S. government "met all its obligations under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" was predetermined from the very beginning. In my conversations with G.A.O. staff I detected little interest in any of the overwhelming evidence that the U.S. government did not meet its obligations under the treaty. Neither Allan R. "Dick" Kasdan, senior G.A.O. attorney, nor any of the twenty other people who apparently contributed to the report, deigned to respond to most of the arguments that have been raised to support the view of many that the U. S. failed to meet its obligations under the treaty. The three most glaring examples of this failure are the lack of a standard for assessing the fairness of adjudications under the treaty, the lack of due process under the Surveyor General of New Mexico, and the mistaken interpretation of Spanish and Mexican law in the Sandoval case (U.S. v. Sandoval, 167 U. S. 278 (1897)).

U. S. v. Sandoval

In spite of its complexity and the importance of the issue of the ownership of the common lands of a community grant, the G.A.O report gives this subject short shrift. Less than five and one-half pages are occupied with the discussion of the ownership of the common lands, and of these only a paragraph is devoted to a discussion of the Sandoval case. Instead of analyzing the reasoning behind the decision, the authors of the G.A.O. study (whoever they may be), state simply, "the Sandoval court concluded that common lands within the San Miguel del Bado grant passed to the new sovereign - the United States - under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" because those lands had remained in ownership of the old sovereigns - Spain and Mexico. The determination by Sandoval that these governments and not the land grants themselves owned the common lands is not questioned or analyzed. This is the extent of the G.A.O. report's "discussion" of the Sandoval case. It is misleading and not even a complete account of what the Sandoval opinion said. This is typical of the entire G.A.O. report. It relies almost entirely on court cases that support the government's predetermined position.

The G.A.O. researchers could have analyzed the background of the Sandoval case. They could have examined arguments by Daniel Tyler, Michael Meyer, Michael Brescia, and myself regarding the historical and legal case for common lands ownership under Spain and Mexico (see Ebright, Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico, 48-9, 105-23, 266-69), but they choose to ignore this scholarship.

Due Process of Law under the Surveyor General

The G.A.O. report spends many more pages (twenty-one) dealing with fairness and due process issues than it does on the Sandoval case, but the results are even more one-sided, distorted, and outrageous. It is distorted because the report misstates the facts. It says that the notice provided by the Surveyor General to those with a possible interest in a land grant was adequate and "satisfied due process" (p. 129). In fact, in the case of the Tierra Amarilla Grant, absolutely no notification was given that it was being considered by the Surveyor General. The Surveyor Generals themselves complained that this procedure was unfair and did not protect individual property rights. For example, in 1867, Surveyor General Clark stated, "no notice is required to be given to any party of interest by publication or otherwise, and as a consequence, almost all investigation has been ex parte [one side making its case to the judge without notice to the other side]. . . . I have, therefore, again to urge that Congress will make provision for the better security of the rights of individuals in the settlement of these claims." (The G.A.O. report actually includes this quote but does not respond to Clark's criticism.) Surveyor General Clark did not think that property rights of all individuals with an interest in land grants under consideration by the Surveyor General were being protected or secured. One hundred thirty-seven years later the G.A.O. insists that they were.

The "reasoning" that leads the G.A.O. report to the conclusion that the Surveyor General proceedings met due process requirements is so illogical it is bizarre. The report reaches the conclusion that the notice that Surveyor General Clark thought was required may not have been required at all. The report implies that it was an excessive burden on the government to publish a notice in a Santa Fe newspaper in 1860 stating which land grants were being considered by the Surveyor General. You do not have to be a lawyer to realize it is not a burden on the government to publish such a notice and to devise other methods of informing people with a possible interest in a land grant that their interest is in jeopardy. In fact, this is the least you would expect from a government that is deciding whether it owns land it annexed by conquest or whether the land is the property of citizens of the invaded country protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Lack of a Standard: Assessing the Fairness of "Adjudications" under the Treaty

The most glraring omission in the G.A.O. report is its failure to arrive at a standard by which to judge whether land grant deliberations by the Surveyor General, the Court of Private Land Claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court met the property rights guarantees in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It is an example of U.S. government double-speak that the first part of the title of the report is "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo," and yet no attempt is made to decide independently what was required by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The standard that should have been applied was the same standard that the Surveyor General of New Mexico was instructed to follow by the General Land Office: "to deal with private titles . . . precisely as Mexico would have done had the sovereignty not changed," i.e., follow Mexican law and practice. (GLO Commissioner John Wilson to Surveyor General William Pelham, 1871.)

If the authors of the G.A.O. report had followed this standard they would have been required to examine the land grant documents themselves and the law and custom under which they were made. By doing this they would have found the answers they said they were seeking. They would have found, for instance, that notice to adjacent landowners was almost always given when a land grant was made so that those with a possible interest in that grant would have an opportunity to object. The governments of Spain and Mexico did not find this requirement burdensome; it was a matter of basic fairness. If the authors of the G.A.O. report had examined the land grant documents they would have found a definitive answer to the questions of who owned the common lands. In the Las Trampas grant, for instance, the grantees were granted private tracts together with a proportionate interest in the common lands by Governor Vélez Cachupín. It is crystal clear that the common lands of the Las Trampas grant and other community grants were owned by the grantees and not by the governments of Spain and Mexico, as the GAO study maintains.

The authors of the G.A.O. report looked only at the cases regarding land grant adjudications by the Court of Private Land Claims and the Surveyor General, not at their historical background. We did not need what must have been a multi-million dollar study to tell us what we already knew: that the U. S. government believes it met all its responsibilities under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in adjudicating New Mexico land grants. Because it is so partisan, the G.A.O. report does not deserve to be taken seriously as historical scholarship or as fair-minded legal analysis. The G.A.O. report is a slap in the face because it sidesteps the issues and still expects that scholars, lawyers, and land grant heirs and residents will actually "like" the report. The essence of the G.A.O. report is: Here are the court decisions regarding the adjudication of land grants in New Mexico; these decisions demonstrate that the process was fair and the U.S. met its responsibility under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; the G.A.O. agrees without doing any independent analysis. End of story.

But this is not the end of the story. New Mexicans interested and involved in the land grant question are more dedicated and more sophisticated than these Washington bureaucrats. They read and understand the research and land grant histories that have been written and continue to be written. They have worked this land, plowed it, irrigated it, planted it, weeded it, harvested it, and then gone to meetings in the evening about whether they owned it or whether they will retain their water rights to irrigate it. They have grazed their cattle on it and gathered wood, herbs, and other important resources from it. They can see behind the legal niceties that in their hard-hearted application by the G.A.O. squeeze the life out of something they hold sacred. They know, as their ancestors knew, that this land was guaranteed them by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and has been denied them because of unfair actions by the U. S. government. This is not the end of the story.

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