A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Editorial: Ranchettes or Inhabited Wilderness? By Kay Matthews
New Aamodt Settlement Proposal Continues to Cause Debate By Kay Matthews
GAO Report on Land Grants Misses the Mark By Mark Schiller
The folks at the Dixon Cooperative Market aren't kidding when they say they're in business to serve the local community, both consumer and farmer. At its recent grand opening local gardener Karen Cohen came in with a bunch of turnips and co-manager Nelson Rhodes bought them on the spot.
Store managers Nelson Rhodes and Ann "Funny" Hendrie
The result of two years' planning by a local board of directors (including Linda Prim, Thea Spaeth, David Rigsby, Jeff Spicer, and Clark Case), the market opened on June 1 in the old Zeller's store that now houses the Dixon Community Center and local radio station KLDK (96.5FM) . The same board also started the Dixon Farmers' Market, which meets every Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot in front of the store. The goal of the board, according to member Spaeth, is to "feed the people of the community." By doing so, the store also provides the opportunity for local growers and producers to sell locally and contributes to a growing, land-based economy.
Inside the store we encountered a wide array of supplies: bulk foods, including nuts, beans and rice; a produce section with local lettuce, leeks, rhubarb, and both conventional and organic garlic; a frozen food section with additive free meat from Keller's and pre-packaged pasta dishes; organic and conventional milk; an herb supply; chips, dips and sodas (including both Coca-cola and Hansen's); a small hardware supply of nails, bolts, and nuts; paper goods; school supplies; and a wide array of packaged goods including beans, ketchup, fruit, cooking oil, and noodles. The store is supplied by both GDI and the Tucson Cooperative Warehouse, which specializes in organic food.
Ann "Funny" Hendrie, longtime Ojo Sarco resident, is co-manager along with Rhodes, a freelance animation cartoonist for 25 years. She told La Jicarita News: "We hashed it out in board meetings that we didn't want to dictate people's needs by making the store only organic or refusing to carry certain products. We wanted the store to serve everyone in the community." Rhodes added, "I used to never see anybody. But because the store offers so many different things I get to see everyone."
The staff tries to respond to all supply requests from the community. "Sometimes customers feel guilty when they see we actually ordered some obscure item they requested and think they have to buy it up," Funny laughed. "As we get going we'll increase our stock and diversity of items. Right now the trickiest part is figuring out how much to order, particularly of perishable goods like bread, which we have delivered fresh daily."
According to Spaeth, prices at the store are competitive with specialty stores like Wild Oats or Whole Foods, but the big selling point is the fact that people don't have to drive to Taos, Española, or Santa Fe to get many of the items they need. While some folks use the store as they would a convenience store, to pick up a half gallon of milk or a loaf of bread (what convenience store carries Sage Bakery bread?), according to Spaeth, an increasing number of customers are buying their weekly grocery supply or splitting their shopping needs at the Cooperative Market and a conventional store in town.
The market is open to everyone, of course, but as a cooperative sells memberships, which are growing every day. A regular annual membership is $25; a senior membership is $20; and a charter membership, to help support the store, is $200. The board recently received a donation from a local grower to support a low income membership of $5. When we spoke with Spaeth membership was 175 people and growing. The board has also received a USDA grant and smaller local grants, along with donated equipment (they're awaiting an ice machine) and is looking for volunteers for cashiering and store maintenance.
For now, store hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11 am to 7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm. But the managers and board are expecting to increase hours during the day and eventually be open seven days a week. "Our hours are shifting as we learn and grow," Spaeth said. The store accepts cash, checks, and credit cards, and will soon take debit and ETB cards. For more information, you can call 579-9625.
The First Annual Conference of the National Association of Latino/Hispanic Farmers & Ranchers is scheduled for August 25-27, 2005 at the Ramada Palms de Las Cruces Hotel in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The conference is the culmination of many years of hard work by Latino farmers groups throughout the United States who felt the need to organize and set an agenda for themselves. Members are from all over the United States, mostly small scale Chicano and Latino immigrant farmers with anywhere between 5-50 acres who are struggling to make a living off the land. For more information contact Jennifer Carter at 202-725-5912 or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org; the Association office at 202-628-8833; or Rudy Arredondo at 301-366-8200.
The Española Ranger District is proposing the Hyde Park Wildland Urban Interface Thinning and Prescribed Fire Project located east of Hyde Park Estates near Hyde Park Memorial State Park and adjacent to Black Canyon Campground. The purpose of the project is to reduce the risk of catastrophic crown fire by thinning trees (predominantly ponderosa pine with some mixed confer and piñon/juniper) on approximately 825 acres on areas with less than 40% slope. Final tree densities would range from 5 to 120 tress per acre with an average of 40 to 60 trees per acre. Openings from 1-5 acres in size, occupying no more than 10% of the project area would be created. The District is accepting written comments until August 5: Española Ranger District, P.O. Box 3307, Fairview Station, 87533. The contact officer is John C. Phillips, 638-5526.
Les Crowder will be teaching Fall Beekeeping at EcoVersity on August 27, 10 am-4 pm. Learn how to evaluate a hive's condition and prepare it for winter.
PRACTICAL BUSINESS SKILLS FOR THE EARTH BASED VOCATION with Donal Kinney, tax-accountant for a diverse cross-section of Santa Fe's earth-conscious businesses. The seven-week course takes students through the step-by-step process of developing and implementing a business plan. Class meets Tuesdays 6-8 pm, August 30-October 11. Visit Donal's website at www.beanplanter.com.
EARTH BASED VOCATIONS program begins August 26 with a two-week PERMACULTURE DESIGN CERTIFICATE COURSE. The Permaculture Design Course will be taught by Scott Pittman and is open to non-Vocations students. The twenty-week Earth Based Vocations program includes ten weeks on the EcoVersity campus with the core faculty, including Scott Pittman, Joel Glanzburg, Chrissie Orr, Alfred von Bachmayr and Arvo Thomson. For more information please call the office or visit http://www.ecoversity.org/ebv.html.
State Historian Estevan Rael-Galvez announced the launching of the New Mexico History Website Project on Thursday, July 21. The New Mexico History Web Project is an interactive and multimedia website that also will provide information on contemporary events across the state and nation that focus on New Mexico history. For additional information call (505) 476-7955.
The San Luis-based Land Rights Council, which was instrumental in the 2002 victory to gain access rights to the former Sangre de Cristo Land Grant (referred to as the Taylor Ranch), sponsored a Colorado-New Mexico conference to discuss strategies for asserting historic legal right to Spanish and Mexican land grants. Held on July 29 at the Centennial High School in San Luis, the morning session focused on Colorado issues and the afternoon session on New Mexican issues. The conference featured: a panel discussion with lawyers who participated in the 25-year legal struggle for Costilla County residents to win access to former grant lands; a presentation by Arnold Valdez, land use planner for the council, on grazing and resource issues; and testimony from Costilla County landowners who haven taken their livestock onto the ranch.
Meanwhile, more than 500 people may get keys to the gate on the Taylor Ranch at a July 26 hearing. There is an ongoing process to determine which landowners are eligible for use rights; so far 100 people are now allowed to pasture their livestock and collect wood on the ranch. For more information call the Land Rights Council at 719-672-1019.
By Kay Matthews
Twenty years ago Susan and Albert Wells, board members of the Abelard family foundation, bought a small ranch near Bozeman, Montana that they named Windcall. The only structure on the property was a listing barn, and the only inhabitant, other than elk and deer, was Mama cat. For two weeks in June I stayed on the ranch: every year the Wells offer Windcall as a retreat for social activists of all kinds who need a break from the rigors of union organizing, fair housing advocacy, or immigrant rights work. Housed in a comfortable resident house, provided with separate study and recreation facilities, residents ride the impeccably trained ranch horses, hike the neighboring mountain trails, swim in the cold, spring-fed pond, or just lie back and listen to the birds singing in the pines. Mama cat still lives in the barn (she may be headed for a slot in the Guinness Book of World Records).
By Mark Schiller
In an interview in the April 2005 issue of La Jicarita News Congressional Representative Tom Udall told the paper that the New Mexico "congressional delegation will look at [the] recommendations [contained in the General Accounting Office Report on Community Land Grants] and try to come up with a plan that incorporates either a mixture of several of the recommendations or focuses on one of them." Unfortunately, the Report ignores or rationalizes many of the blatant corruptions of justice that occurred during the adjudication of community land grants. If the congressional delegation bases its plan on the Report's findings, it could very well choose to do nothing at all.
La Jicarita News believes that this is a good time to raise some of the issues the Report misrepresents and which the congressional delegation must address if it truly wants to remedy this festering problem.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Article VIII of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo states in part: "In the said territories, property of every kind, now belonging to Mexicans . . . , shall be inviolably respected." "Inviolably respected" is a very high, but vaguely defined standard, and it was up to Congress to instruct the Surveyor General and the Court of Private Land Claims how to interpret it. Congress did this with the Acts of 1854 and 1891. Provisions of both Acts, however, made it impossible for the government to justly meet this standard.
The GAO Report maintains that "because of the non-self executing nature of the Treaty, Congress was required to enact legislation to put the provisions into effect. It did so in the 1854 and 1891 Acts establishing the Surveyor General and CPLC [Court of Private Land Claims] procedures, and under U.S. law, any conflict between these statutes and the Treaty provisions (which we do not suggest exists) must be resolved in favor of the statutes." The Report repeatedly falls back on this explanation to rationalize the clearly unjust and inequitable actions of the Surveyor General and the Court of Private Land Claims (i.e., they were acting within the restrictions of their mandates). Because the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was an international treaty, the federal government was obliged "to adjudicate these claims . . . according to the law of nations [and] the stipulations of the treaty concluded between the United States and the Republic of Mexico . . ." The congressional delegation should acknowledge that the Treaty itself, rather than the 1854 and 1891 Acts, defines the obligation the federal government must live up to.
Both Congressional Acts failed to mandate that the respective agencies give adequate notice of their proceedings. As a result many potential claimants and potential adverse claimants were completely excluded from the adjudication process.
An 1833 Supreme Court decision regarding land claims adjudicated under the Florida treaty stated, "the grants shall remain ratified and confirmed to the persons in possession of them [and] to the same extent." The New Mexico adjudication process, however, forced land grant claimants to demonstrate the legitimacy of their claims. By doing this, the federal government often placed an impossible burden on the claimants. Residents of community grants during this period were largely illiterate subsistence farmers and ranchers who spoke only Spanish, knew little of the world outside their communities, and were completely unfamiliar with the American form of jurisprudence. The federal government, on the other hand, had enormous resources to hire expert assistants to research what land grant historian Malcolm Ebright calls the "finely spun technicalit[ies] of Anglo jurisprudence", with which it defeated or reduced legitimate claims. Moreover, the government unjustly laid the responsibility for naming the persons who were in possession of the land claim on the claimant or claimants. This created an obvious conflict of interests for claimants who wished to monopolize a claim and led to grants being confirmed to the wrong people.
There were several legal decisions by the United States Supreme Court that resulted in the loss of enormous amounts of community land. The first of these, United States v. Sandoval, misinterpreted and misapplied Spanish and Mexican law. This decision erroneously determined that land grant communities were only granted use of the common lands by the Spanish and Mexican governments. Title to these lands remained vested in those governments and therefore passed to the United States federal government upon the change of sovereignty. Land grant scholars and historians have repeatedly demonstrated that community land grants were severed in their entirety from the public domain under Spanish and Mexican law, custom, and usage.
The second important decision, Hayes v.United States, overturned the presumption that the official or governmental institution that made a land grant had the authority to do so. Once again, the federal government misinterpreted and misapplied Mexican law in erroneously determining that local government officials and institutions such as deputations and ayuntamientos did not have the authority to make land grants or certified copies of grant papers that were lost or had deteriorated. As a result of this decision, at least ten land grants were rejected for confirmation.
Borders and Boundaries
Numerous community grants lost land because of misrepresentation or misinterpretation of boundary calls and incompetent survey field work. The Surveyor General and the Court of Private Land Claims deliberately conspired to reduce legitimate land claims by challenging or maliciously misinterpreting boundary calls. Field workers made numerous errors that were compounded by a burdensome appeals process. Some grants were surveyed three or more times, usually resulting in reduced acreage. Moreover, the government did not apply a just or consistent standard when adjudicating land claims that overlapped, nor did it refer to Spanish and Mexican law or custom and tradition in trying to determine a method for dealing with this important issue. As a result, many community grants lost some or all of their common lands.
The Office of the Surveyor General was riddled with corruption. For example, of the nine men to hold the office, three were blatant land speculators and two actually had land grant holdings while they were in office.
The GAO Report asserts that the federal government bore no responsibility for protecting community land grants once they were adjudicated. As a result, many community grants unjustly lost part or all of their common lands to taxation and partitioning. The federal government clearly should have insisted that the common lands of community land grants be treated as municipal property by state and county governments so that they would not have been subject to taxation or partitioning.
Finally, the Congressional delegation must bear in mind that these adjudications were part of an aggressive colonialist policy, fueled by racial prejudice and the concept of "Manifest Destiny", which posited that Anglo-America was preordained to settle America from the Atlantic to the Pacific and bring Eurocentric enlightenment to the "ignorant" Native Americans and Indo-Hispanos. These prejudices acted as a rationalization for many of the injustices that occurred and tainted the entire adjudication process.
Editor's Note: The Galisteo Watershed is bounded by Glorieta and Rowe mesas, the Estancia Basin Escarpment, and the Ortiz Mountains to the south; Thompson Peak, Glorieta Baldy, the Sunlit Hills, the heights of Rancho San Marcos, and the Cerrillos Hills to the north, encompassing 467,000 acres.
The history of Earth Works Institute is the story of how a group concerned with sustainable land use evolved into a watershed restoration group and managed to gain the trust and commitment of community people through years of hard work and outreach. While it's only one story, many of the issues the group encountered and the techniques it used to overcome obstacles and engage participation could be used as a model statewide.
Earth Works was founded in 1994 by Leslie Barclay, a Galisteo area landowner who has a background in land conservation. Barclay saw extensive land degradation on surrounding Cerrillos-Galisteo ranches and wanted to use her own ranch as a model for sustainability. Earth Works developed a master plan for a 160-acre demonstration ranch with a straw bale barn, a greenhouse for native plants, and schoolhouse (off the grid) and began networking with Galisteo neighbors, land management agencies, and consultants, quickly realizing that to address land use problems in the lower basin there needed to be collaboration with upstream communities.
Jan-Willem Jansens, a landscape architect who previously worked with Forest Trust, came on board in 1998 and Earth Works began mapping the watershed and identifying communities, agencies, and funding sources for watershed planning. The McCune Charitable Foundation provided seed money for community meetings and the group also received support from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), which had money for monitoring watersheds throughout the state.
Earth Works put forth the idea of developing a watershed association and initiated meetings in the upper watershed communities of Apache Canyon and Cañoncito in 1998. Subsequent meetings followed in the lower watershed communities of Galisteo and Cerrillos. Issues raised included soil erosion, the pollution of the night sky, growth, and the lack of a sense of community within the watershed.
In 1999 Earth Works received a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Section 319 grant for the Galisteo Watershed Restoration Project: publication of educational guides on erosion control and rainwater catchment systems, community outreach, and on-the-ground work, with the idea of eventually forming a watershed association. Restoration projects were initiated in Cañoncito and Galisteo that addressed long-term watershed problems: overgrazing that depleted riparian vegetation; extermination of the beaver population whose dams helped slow creek flows; the building of roads and the railroad in the floodplain; loss of land grants; and increased residential development. With the help of Bill Zeedyk, a streamflow specialist, project designs were developed that helped recreate natural river meanders to prevent erosion and maintain a healthy stream flow.
With a second EPA grant in 2002 Earth Works has been continuing its community outreach efforts and has developed restoration neighborhoods. For example in the watershed communities of Galisteo, Madrid, San Marcos, and El Dorado people have come together and formed committees to organize watershed events, provide educational material, and write a watershed restoration plan.
As is the case all over New Mexico, one of the most pressing issues in the Galisteo is the threat of loss of open lands to suburban development. In 2002 a large ranch south of El Dorado was slated for development, which would have created an entirely new village near Galisteo (the project subsequently fell through). Throughout the watershed five hundred new homes per year were being built, and from 1998 to 2003 the population had increased from 10,000 to 17,000. Earth Works began collaborating with non-profit, smart growth organizations as well as the Santa Fe Conservation Trust and the Santa Fe County Land Use Department to develop a vision and plan that would incorporate the work already being done at the community level. The draft version of the plan states: "The challenge for the people living in the watershed is how they can live in balance with a fragile, impermanent environment. Thus, what should guide how people in the watershed plan for the future?"
At the end of 2004 the Galisteo Watershed Partnership, a public-private association, envisioned many years ago, was gradually being formed. The group has developed a Memorandum of Understanding and was officially launched on July 7, 2005. While CWA Section 319 funding for the Galisteo Watershed Restoration Project has been spent, a wetlands project is currently being developed with an additional EPA grant. This summer, Earth Works also sponsored the H20 Festival and Symposium in collaboration with The Center for Contemporary Arts of Santa Fe. And so the work continues, poco a poco, bringing together the people who live and work in a watershed: people who have a stake in its health and vitality and whose future economic, ecological, and social well-being depend on its sustainability.
Copyright 1996-2002 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.