Congresos de la Universitat Politècnica de València, Irrigation, Society and Landscape. Tribute to Tom F. Glick

Por defecto: 
Oral Tradition and Legal Authority in the Trans-Mountain Acequia Systems of the Mora Valley, New Mexico
Enrique R. Lamadrid, Juan Estevan Arellano

Última modificación: 23-02-2015


Abstract. During the 18th century conflicts between the Comanches of the southern Plains and the Spanish Mexicans and their Pueblo allies in New Mexico, the valley of Mora was a natural corridor to the settlements of the Río Grande valley for trade and warfare. The walls of Picurís Pueblo on the other side of Jicarilla mountain sheltered native Tiwas as well as their neighbors. When peace came, mestizo settlers headed east to Mora to begin farming and ranching. The land was fertile, but water was scarce, since it naturally flowed west to the Río Grande. As early as 1817, settler José Antonio Olguín approached the elders of Picurís where he had lived for years, for permission to divert some water from one of the Tres Ritos del Río Pueblo over the mountain to the other side. Since then the controversies and competition for water have grown over the years. With adjudication of water rights of Mora approaching, what is the valueof oral history in legal proceedings? How would it be possible to consult living voices to create a legally recognizable source of information? Several examples of this oral and documentary process illustrate the case of the trans-mountain "waterfall acequias" of Mora, including an inconclusive 1882 legal case filed by Picurís Pueblo, declarations of pueblo leaders, local interviews, and a 2008 children's book, Juan the Bear and the Water of Life by the authors of this article. Although there is little possibility for any of these testimonies to complement future legal proceedings, it is important to understand cultural processes of historical validation where the documentary record is so sparse.


Keywords: oral tradition, adjudication of water rights, trans-mountain acequias, Mora and Picurís, New Mexico

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