Pueblo Design
 La Jicarita

A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico

Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521

Volume X

June/July 2005

Number VI


Current Issue




About Us




Picuris Pueblo Regains Ancestral Tribal Lands! By Mark Schiller


Book Review: The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico 1880s-1930s By John N. Nieto-Phillips Reviewed by Kay Matthews

Public Awaits Release of Forest Service Environmental Impact Statement on Invasive Plant Control Project

Updates on Top of the World Water Transfer Protest & Aamodt Adjudication By Kay Matthews

Acequia Mediation Team Proposed

Taos Regional Water Plan Back on Track

1st Annual Power of the Youth Gathering in Chimayó

Picuris Pueblo Regains Ancestral Tribal Lands!

By Mark Schiller

Picuris Pueblo has won another great environmental and spiritual victory by reacquiring the land where their potters' aboriginal micaceous clay pit is located. The original clay pit had been decimated by mica mining operations on ancestral tribal lands that were erroneously incorporated into the public domain by the federal government, then patented by mining companies under the notorious 1872 federal mining law. The Pueblo claimed the mining operations not only destroyed their clay pit but were poisoning the water and air and posing a public safety hazard because of eighteen wheelers that sped from the mining site on U.S. Hill, east of the Pueblo, through the small communities of the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo watershed carrying raw ore to the company's milling operation in Velarde. Moreover, during the battle to regain the land former Tribal Governor Gerald Nailor explained that loss of the clay pit was eroding the pueblo's cultural identity and was as significant as loss of their language.

The 537 acre tract, which includes 195 patented acres and 342 acres of unpatented mining claims, was transferred to the Pueblo under an agreement with Oglebay Norton Specialty Minerals, the mine's last operator. The agreement stipulates that the Pueblo dismiss all claims against the company in exchange for the patented and unpatented lands. The Pueblo hopes to protect the entire tract by eventually incorporating it as a trust. The agreement also stipulates that the Pueblo is now responsible for reclamation of the property. While the agreement with Oglebay Norton severs that company from the Pueblo's legal suit, the Pueblo continues to seek compensation for damages from previous owners Franklin Industries and Preston Capital Corp.

Simeon Herskovitz, of the Western Environmental Law Center, told La Jicarita News that Pueblo Governor Richard Mermejo and other tribal members who have worked on this issue have expressed a desire to restore the site as completely as possible. The Pueblo, which received foundation funding to underwrite the legal battle for the land, will continue to receive financial support to address the reclamation. The Pueblo will be working with Jim Kuipers, a mining reclamation expert from Montana, to develop a reclamation plan that not only addresses state standards but Pueblo environmental, spiritual and aesthetic concerns.

This is not the first time Picuris Pueblo has stood up to mining interests in their watershed. In the mid and late 1990s the Pueblo spearheaded a coalition of community and environmental groups that successfully opposed Summo Minerals attempt to mine copper in the Copper Hill area west of the Pueblo. The coalition was not only successful in forcing the mining company to abandon its claims but was also able to persuade the Bureau of Land Management, which manages that area, to withdraw the Copper Hill Site from further mineral entry, thereby protecting it from any future claims.


• The La Jara Hazardous Fuel Reduction and Restoration Project is one of the first projects on the Camino Real Ranger District that falls under the authorization of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA). This means that the Environmental Analysis for the project will be mailed in August of 2005 to those who commented during the scoping process or requested inclusion on the project mailing list. The Final Environmental Analysis (FEA) will be mailed in August. Instead of an appeal period there will be an objection process before the final decision is made and after the FEA is mailed. In order to be eligible to file an objection to the preferred alternative, specific written comments related to the project must be submitted during scoping or other public involvement opportunities. This particular project, located 17 miles east of Taos on SH 64 in Taos Canyon. The analysis area is comprised of 6,713 acres of mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, grasslands, aspen, Engelmann spruce and oak. Taos Pueblo lands, Taos Pines, Angel Fire, and Valle Escondido are the wildland/urban interface lands and communities that surround the analysis area. The project proposes to reduce hazardous fuels by creating fuelbreaks along private land/forest boundaries, treat 1,956 acres of the project interior through thinning and prescribed burning, thin along key grazing allotments division fences, provide personal use products, and various other treatments. For more information contact Cecilia Seesholtz, district ranger, at 505-587-2255. Comments should be sent to the Camino Real Ranger District, P.O. Box 68, Peñasco, New Mexico, 87553, ATTN: La Jara Project.

Adaptive Governance: Integrating Science, Policy and Decision Making by Toddi Steelman and Donna Tucker, will be published in July by Columbia University Press. Much of the field work for the book was done in New Mexico, and the chapter "The Camino Real: To Care for the Land and Serve the People," chronicles the Collaborative Stewardship program that was implemented on the Camino Real Ranger District by District Ranger Crockett Dumas and staff in the 1990s. The authors use what happened on the Camino Real district as an example of adaptive governance in the common interest. La Jicarita News will review the book once we receive a review copy and will also do a follow-up analysis of what happened to the Collaborative Stewardship program on the district and forest.

• • • • • •

La Jicarita News is combining the June and July issues. Look for the next installment of the paper at the beginning of August.

Book Review: The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico 1880s-1930s By John N. Nieto-Phillips

Reviewed by Kay Matthews

The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico is a enlightening read for any New Mexican who romanticizes "Spanish-American" culture: modern day hispanidads perpetuating racism and discrimination against Mexicanos; and hispanophiles, perpetuating a long history of exploitation and marginalization of Nuevomexicanos (how Nieto-Phillips refers to the Spanish speaking population of New Mexico instead of Hispano, Chicano, Latino, etc.).


Nieto-Phillips, a professor of history and Latino studies at Indiana University, investigates the origins of what he calls the "invented" identity of Nuevomexicanos who claim direct descent from the Spanish conquistadors of the 15th century. Confused by his own identity &emdash; growing up "Chicano" in Los Angeles but spending extended time with his mother's Bernalillo family of "Spanish" heritage &emdash;Nieto-Phillips describes how he was afflicted in his teens with a "serious case of nostalgia . . . to recover that which I had repressed or forgotten &emdash; as well as that which never really existed." His book is an effort "to come to terms with the contradictions of my family's lore that were the source of my shame and confusion as a young Chicano raised on tales of Spanish glory." It is an exploration of memory and longing for legitimacy.

The book is not autobiographical, however, but an extensively documented academic work. Nieto-Phillips traces the metaphor of identity as the language of blood purity, or limpieza de sangre, from the 1880s through the 1930s. Two basic factors fueled its creation: Anglo tourism and settlement that exploited the Spanish colonial past to implement Manifest Destiny; and Nuevomexicanos own use of Spanish purity, as opposed to Mexicano or metizaje, as a defense against political and social marginalization by this same Anglo settlement.

Purity of blood was initially equated with Spanish colonial conquest. The Americas provided Spain with the opportunity to "craft a more idyllic Spanish society, one presumably, uncorrupted by Jewish or Moorish blood or beliefs." But the language of blood in the Americas was more complex than in Spain, and the "contaminant" was Indian blood, and then "negro" blood with the spread of African slavery. In the book, Nieto-Phillips provides a table showing caste designations according to parentage: Español, India, Mestizo, Castiza, Negra, Mulato, Morisco, Albina, and on through nine other categorizations to coyote. Throughout the colonial period (1598-1821) and into the Mexican period (1821-1846) both civic and ecclesiastical authorities classified individuals into these categories. One's casta was related to one's calidad, or quality and social status: "Color, occupation, and wealth might influence one's calidad, as did purity of blood, honor, integrity, and even place of origin."

According to Phillips, a national "mexicano" identity didn't challenge this calidad system. Instead, "the reigning self-identified españoles of northern New Mexico who traced their lineage to Spanish conquistadores and hidalgos were well entrenched in the most powerful escelons of Mexican society in Santa Fe. . . ."

During the U.S. invasion of New Mexico and its struggle for statehood the concept of limpieza was revived as Nuevomexicanos responded to Anglo American racism by trying "to explain their racial pedigree amid accusations that they were a 'mongrel race' unfit for statehood." Under the census, Nuevomexicanos were classified as "free whites" (while Pueblo Indians became "wards" of the United States), but they were certainly not considered equals in social and political status.

The rise in Anglo American tourism, particularly after the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s, changed the "phobias" to "fascination with all things 'Indian' and 'Spanish'. This form of colonization treated Indian and Spanish cultures primarily as commodities." The Bureau of Immigration was largely responsible for this changed perception as New Mexico's leading booster organization. In reality, the bureau was a promoter of statehood, which necessitated increased migration and tourism "as a means of transforming New Mexico's racial demography." Thus the image of Pueblo Indians became one of "docile, sedentary, and semicivilized" and Hispano Nuevomexicanos became the descendants of the conquistadors. These images were perpetuated by writers like Charles Lummis and Lebaron Bradford Prince and were exploited by "a growing number of educated, middle-to-upper-class bilingual Nuevomexicanos and Nuevomexicanas [who] sought to study, document, preserve, embellish, and popularize hispanidad." This was a defense against both cultural erosion and civic inequality.

In the book's Epilogue, Nieto-Phillips references the 1998 Cuarto Centennial at the Juan de Oñate Center when late one night a group of Native American activists reportedly cut off the right foot of the Oñate statue, to memorialize Oñate's retaliation against the Acoma Indians in 1599. Nieto-Phillips describes the action this way: "This controversy demonstrates the emotional and political energy that resides in memory, and its potential to magnify longstanding ethnic tensions and ideological fissures in society. Debates over such monuments bring to light deep-seated assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions regarding the past, and provide a venue and a specific moment at which they might be contested. As tensions escalate, public spaces themselves often become sources of contention and disputed terrain. When spaces and landmarks are contested, so are the histories they consecrate and the community values or identities they symbolize; so, too, are the social relations of power which give them emotional meaning and political value. The Oñate statue debate is testimony to the ongoing polemic over the Spanish American identity, the polemic that is rooted in Nuevomexicanos's longing for legitimacy."

Public Awaits Release of Forest Service Environmental Impact Statement on Invasive Plant Control Project

In light of the recent news story that claims Forest Service managers in New Mexico ignored agency rules and environmental laws by utilizing herbicides on noxious weeds without NEPA analysis of its potential impacts, La Jicarita News contacted Sandy Hurlocker of the Española Ranger District to find out when the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Invasive Plant Control Project for the Carson and Santa Fe national forests is due to be released. According to Hurlocker, his office is finalizing its response to the public comment on the Draft EIS and will send the FEIS to the printer at the end of May. It usually takes four to six weeks to be returned and mailed to the public.

The Draft EIS (DEIS) Preferred Alternative B, Integrated Weed Control Strategy, calls for a combined use of herbicides, biological methods (insect and plant pathogens), manual methods (hand pulling, digging, cutting), controlled grazing (with goats or sheep), mechanical (mowing and root tilling), prescribed burning, and cultural methods (planting or seeding with desirable native plants). Other alternatives include no action, no herbicides, and only herbicides. Implementation of Alternative B would require an amendment to the Santa Fe Forest Plan, which currently prohibits the use of herbicides within municipal watersheds, in areas of human habitation, and on soils with low regeneration potential.

Most of the public comments raised concerns about or were completely opposed to the use of herbicides on the Carson and Santa Fe national forests. According to Hurlocker, some of the comments were very technical, questioning the effects of herbicides on humans and the environment. The Forest Service is reviewing its information with regard to each herbicide that would be used. The local staff uses an in-house process developed at the national level that relies on "on the best science we can find." The agency is not adding any new alternatives and it seems likely that beyond clarifying Preferred Alternative B in response to public comment, that alternative will remain the proposed action in the FEIS.

La Jicarita News reviewed comments submitted last August by the Weed Committee of Taos, Dr. Ann McCampbell, MCS Task Force of NM, and former Forest Service employee, Sarah Reeb, that bring up important issues other people have raised as well.

• First, the DEIS fails to mention treatments in light of drought conditions, which obviously exist during this time of evaluation. According to Reeb, non-herbicidal treatments such as timed-interval mowing can be highly effective on weeds.

• The DEIS identifies environmental and health concerns for all the proposed herbicides but then dismisses them through a process called risk assessment. According to Dr. McCampbell, risk assessment data can be used to declare that even the use of probable carcinogens can be safe. Inert ingredients of toxic chemicals have not been adequately analyzed. Any risks are a concern; once toxic herbicides are placed into an ecosystem the long-term effects may not be known for decades. According to McCampbell, "The extensive uncertainties present makes the decision to use herbicides arbitrary and capricious." There is also the possibility of human error, with risks to employees and the public. The federal official who advises the Forest Service on the use of herbicides and who has made the accusations that the agency ignored rules and environmental laws, claims that employees used restricted-use pesticides without the proper authority and that insecticides were used near campgrounds, jeopardizing the safety of campers. The official also complained that the Forest Service failed to adequately train employees in the safe use of toxic chemicals. Reeb claims that there is little information regarding the effects on fish and livestock as chemicals are ingested in insects, water, and forages and move up the food chain.

• The DEIS is strongly biased against non-herbicide treatments. The Forest Service attempts to justify the use of herbicides as being more cost effective and that "mitigation" efforts will prevent negative impacts to wildlife, soils, rare and sensitive native plants, and humans. In the discussion of the no herbicide alternative, the claim that they are ineffective is due to the fact that they were used in situations where they were inappropriate.

• Current management changes such as modifying road grading practices, the timing of pasture rotations on grazing allotments, monitoring ATV use, and timed cutting on special-use hay pastures could help prevent the spread of noxious weeds.

• The DEIS does not address the root causes of weed invasions, i.e., impacts from poor practices of livestock grazing, logging, mining, fire breaks, road construction, and off-road vehicles.

• There is no guarantee there will be adequate Forest Service staffing to monitor the effectiveness of chemical treatments and the cost analyses do not include costs for training certified pesticide applicators, the costs of storage facilities, or the costs of potential job-related injuries or litigation by the public.

• Finally, Reeb claims that much of the weed inventory information in the DEIS is out of date and inaccurate and mistakes were made in the mapping of noxious weed infestations. The Forest Service claims that weed identification will be verified "when we go to treat the site."

The Weed Committee (Taos County Noxious Weed Alternative Management Committee), has been working for years to promote safe and effective weed control. For more information contact them at P.O. Box 1961, El Prado, NM 87529. For a scientific analysis of the dangers of herbicides and pesticides you can e-mail Dr. McCampbell at DrAnnMcC@aol.com.

Updates on Top of the World Water Transfer Protest & Aamodt Adjudication

By Kay Matthews

In the February issue of La Jicarita News we reported that with the surprise withdrawal of the federal government's commitment to underwrite the cost of a water delivery system in the the Aamodt Adjudication, the parties involved in the suit were left with a proposed settlement that was completely unworkable. This settlement called for non-Indian defendants to cap their domestic wells and hook up to a proposed $280 million water delivery system while guaranteeing San Ildefonso, Nambe, Tesuque, and Pojoaque pueblos first priority water rights and future development rights.

Subsequently, in late May, the city of Santa Fe announced that construction of a pipeline from San Ildefonso Pueblo to deliver water south to the city or county would not be part of a proposed Aamodt settlement. Much of the criticism directed at the proposed settlement that was drafted last year had focused on the possibility of the city and county using northern New Mexico water to underwrite urban growth and development.

Protestants to the Top of the World water transfer application by Santa Fe County share this concern. This application proposes to transfer groundwater rights from Top of the World Ranch, near Questa, to surface water rights the county would access via the San Ildefonso infiltration gallery and send south to the Santa Fe area via this same pipeline. Traditionally, the Office of the State Engineer has not allowed water transfers across the Otowi Gauge; protestants to the transfer, primarily acequia parciantes, are concerned that taking water from San Ildefonso Pueblo, which is north of Otowi Gauge, and piping it south of the gauge to Santa Fe, would set a bad precedent.

At a recent status conference regarding the Top of the World protest, Santa Fe County attorney John Utton told attorneys for the protestants that he would recommend to the county that it commit to not piping Top of the World water south of the gauge if protestants drop their transfer protest. The 588 acre feet of consumptive water rights transferred from Top of the World would only be used for the water delivery system to non-Indians in the Pojoaque basin as part of the Aamodt settlement. (The County of Santa Fe has agreed to provide 750 acre feet to this water system. There remain thousands of adjudicated acre feet of water rights at Top of the World Ranch that could be used to provide future pueblo water rights included in the proposed settlement.)

In what lawyers are calling a "draft conceptual proposal" also released to the public in May, a new settlement will not include a requirement by non-Indians to cap their domestic wells. Rather, hook-ups will be voluntary, or the amount of water production will be reduced to a negotiated amount (post-1980 wells were reduced from 3-acre feet to 1-acre foot). The water delivery system serving non-Indian water users "may be reduced . . . but will be adequate to enable water service to be extended to all areas in the Settlement Study as the County obtains future funding." (Some folks involved in the case believe that Congress, or the Department of Interior, will eventually come up with the money for a full-blown water delivery system.) The county and state will still have to come up with the 2,500 acre feet per year for the Pueblos.

The county has yet to negotiate an agreement with San Ildefonso Pueblo for use of the infiltration gallery to transfer Top of the World water to the Pojoaque basin. Protestants to the Top of the World water transfer (the editors of La Jicarita News are parties to the protest) are waiting to hear from Utton on whether the county agrees to restrict Top of the World water to the Pojoaque basin above the gauge before deciding whether to continue with their protest. Another option is to ask for dismissal of the county's water transfer application for "failure to prosecute": the case has been pending for six years.

The city and county still reserve the right to construct a pipeline from San Ildefonso south to the Buckman Well fields to meet city and county growth and development demands. Protestants to the Top of the World transfer application continue to feel that it is imperative to maintain the Otowi gauge as defacto protection against the transfer of Top of the World, or any northern New Mexico water rights, to the southern part of the state to facilitate urban growth.

Attorneys who represent both the Top of the World protestants and some of the Aamodt adjudication defendants, made it clear to La Jicarita News that adjudications will continue to be litigated, rather than settled, until the state recognizes changes to the priority system. One attorney recommended that the state "memorialize" water sharing agreements and apply this template to the settlement of all adjudications, rather than enforce the priority water system that pits the Native American community against the Hispano community, these two communities against urban junior water rights users, and most tragically, communities against themselves. While there is great hope that the Taos Valley Adjudication (Abeyta) will entail a more equitable water sharing agreement among all the parties, negotiations there have been easier because the adjudication includes only Taos Pueblo (instead of four pueblos, as in Aamodt).

Acequia Mediation Team Proposed

The Spanish system of law governed the early settlers in New Mexico who had little access to lawyers or judges to settle disputes. With regard to arguments over water, the process of conciliación allowed each disputant to appoint what was called an hombre bueno (a good and honest man, as José Rivera defines the term in his book, Acequia Culture: Water, Land, & Community in the Southwest), who would represent his interests before an alcalde (mayor, or person of authority). According to Rivera, "Presumably, the hombres buenos would design workable solutions not according to a formal set of codified laws they knew little about, but according to the standards and informal precepts acceptable to the majority of vecinos in the locality." Rivera has also done research on the Tribunal de las Aguas in Spain, a consejo that regularly meets to hear water disputes.

As all of us who are involved in the acequia community know, these hombres buenos, under the American system of law, have been replaced with lawyers. El norte is a microcosm of our society at large. We've become a people who litigate even the smallest dispute. Some of our neighbors, who have been acequia parciantes since their teens, have been to court countless times over inter- and intra-community disputes concerning water allocation, rotation, movement, representation &emdash; anything and everything. Even more unfortunately, they have often involved the Office of the State Engineer, which increasingly puts the community control of our water rights at risk. Also at risk is the willingness of parciantes to actively participate in the acequia community when there is so much contention and bad feeling involved.

Recently, La Jicarita News, along with Paula Garcia and Janice Varela of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), and Hilario Rubio, the acequia liaison of the State Engineer, have been meeting to formulate a proposal to set up an acequia mediation team comprised of representatives of regional acequia associations who are knowledgeable about the legal and traditional aspects of the acequia system and capable of helping people work through hard issues. Oftentimes, acequia disputes are the product of long standing personal or family feuds rather than real differences over management of the acequia; hombres buenos from outside a particular dispute could bring the objectivity and clarity back to the process of putting our water to beneficial use. In a series of resolanos this summer NMAA will gather traditional knowledge from parciantes about how they have resolved disputes in their communities to help formulate a mediation team proposal.

Taos Regional Water Plan Back on Track

So far, eleven regional water plans have been submitted and approved by the Office of the State Engineer. Several more will probably be finished this summer.

The Taos Regional Water Plan got momentarily derailed this year when the consulting contractor, Louis Berger Group, failed to supply adequate information on water supply and Taos County terminated its contract. A new firm, DB Stephens and Associates of Albuquerque, has been brought on board to complete the water planning effort. Hydrologist Joanne Hilton will act as project manager.

At its meeting in May, the steering committee, comprised of representatives of major water user groups and water management agencies, set up several technical teams to advise and watchdog the consultant. A technical group of agency people such as Peter Vigil of Taos Soil and Water Conservation District, and Palemon Martinez, of the Taos Valley Acequia Association, will help provide critical information regarding groundwater and surface water supply and quality. A demographic team will look at population projections and growth issues. A legal team will coordinate the attorneys who are involved in various aspects of the plan and monitor how it develops with regard to state water law. Brian Shields of Amigos Bravos brought up the issue of Public Welfare, which is one of the criteria in judging water transfer applications, and the steering committee agreed that a separate team should work with the consultant on examining Public Welfare case law. This elicited a conversation about the necessity of preventing water transfers out of Taos County. Acequias commissions now have the authority to prohibit water transfers from their acequias, but they must incorporate this authority into their bylaws. While the Taos County Comprehensive Plan prohibits transfers out of the county, it was pointed out that the Top of the World water transfer application (see page 6 of this issue), which would transfer water in northern Taos County to Santa Fe County, is still pending.

Phase II of the water planning project begins July 1st with an infusion of money from the Interstate Stream Commission. In this phase the contractor will work on water demand analyses, develop water budgets for subareas (the county is divided into northern, central, western, and southern watershed areas), prepare the legal overview, identify and prioritize water planning alternatives, conduct feasibility reviews for priority alternatives, develop an implementation schedule, and produce the draft and final regional water plans.

1st Annual Power of the Youth Gathering in Chimayó

Youth from Chimayó, San Juan Pueblo, Albuquerque, and San Luis, Colorado gathered in Chimayó the weekend of May 14 to attend workshops on issues pertinent to their lives: gang prevention, literacy and leadership, New Mexico history, multiculturalism, land grants, and environmental awareness. Held on the spacious grounds belonging to Teresa Juarez and Daniel Shreck, the gathering was sponsored by Aztlan Youth Organization and the Chimayó Youth Conservation Corps through a contract from Rio Arriba Family Care Network.

On Saturday, Albino Garcia of La Placita Instituto in Albuquerque warmed the kids up, both figuratively and literally (it was a cold spring day) by guiding them through a circle exercise to get to know each other. Garcia has a long history of organizing and was previously affiliated with Barrios Unidos in Santa Cruz, California.

Northern New Mexico's well-known author and teacher Larry Torres took the kids on a tour of New Mexico history, but first he gave them a "cultural" pop quiz to see how much cultural knowledge they'd learned from their parents and grandparents and to contexualize their own place in New Mexico history. Some of the questions were illustrative of what a very unique place northern New Mexico is, to say the least:

• What do you do when you see an owl in the middle of the day? (You offer it some salt because it's believed to be a witch?

• When is all water sacred and free of all danger? (June 24, Dia de San Juan.)

• What must you do if you pee outside at night? (Make a sign of the cross.)

• What is the origin of the word "Chicano"? (Sons of the Meshica (Aztec) Indians.

In Torres's history lesson he reiterated what John Nieto-Phillips talks about in his book, The Language of Blood, that norteños are a wonderful mix of all the people who settled the land: Pueblo Indians, Spanish conquistadors, Mexicanos, Negroes, Catholics, and Jews.

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