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Land Grants

The Abiquiú Genízaro Grant

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

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

Governor Vélez Cachupín, examined the area and found it to be endowed with rich lands of fine quality, an abundance of water, pasture lands and woodlands. With the assistance of Alcalde Juan José Lovato, the measurement of the grant was made as follows: approximately half a league, 2,500 varas, to the north, east, and west, and 5,000 varas to the south. This was said to be agricultural land under irrigation. In addition, the ejido to the south as measured as follows: north, the pueblo boundary; south, the road that goes to the Navajo; east, the arroyo that descends along the edge of the pueblo; west the height of the Rio de los Frijoles. Governor Vélez Cachupín noted that toward the west boundary, the high, ground of the Rio de los Frijoles, the pastures were of excellent quality because of the superabundance of grama grass. Later a copy was made of the grant at the request of los principales of the Pueblo as ordered by Governor Mendinueta.

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

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

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

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

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

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 Abiquiú Genízaro Grant