Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water
Publication Year: 2014
For generations the Río Embudo watershed in northern New Mexico has been the home of Juan Estevan Arellano and his ancestors. From this unique perspective Arellano explores the ways people use water in dry places around the world. Touching on the Middle East, Europe, Mexico, and South America before circling back to New Mexico, Arellano makes a case for preserving the acequia irrigation system and calls for a future that respects the ecological limitations of the land.
Published by: University of New Mexico Press
Series: Querencias Series
Title Page, Copyright Page
This work had its beginnings, unbeknown to me, when I was a child playing in the acequias in Cañoncito and seeing my parents grow so much food, from chile and corn to an array of sweet cherries, apricots, and other fruits. Then for a while they blurred from my vision during my time in college; when I came back from my fellowship at the Washington Journalism Center and started to work with the Living...
Part 1 • The Wisdom of the Land
Mis primeros nueve meses la pase en la barriga de mi madre, sin pena ninguna siendo que la pasé nadando en el agua, y cuando vine al mundo nací como 200 yardas del río Embudo en la resolana de los barrancos blancos, que saltan del remance de la sirena cerca la Bolsa, unos pasos del río Grande en el lugar de la oscurana cerca la Junta de los ríos. Todavía...
1: Sacred Water: Origin of Life, Drink of Knowledge
The preceding section was more autobiographical, and in this section we embark on a journey to look at other community open-air irrigation systems, all of which in one way or another relate to the acequia systems introduced by the Moors into Spain after 711; with Cortes, this system became one with what existed previously. This hybrid mestizo system is what eventually made its way to New Mexico in 1598, following the...
Part 2 • The Knowledge of the Water
2: The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro: The Water Road
Now that we have taken a tour of other community irrigation and agricultural systems in different parts of the globe, we are ready to embark on the next part of our journey. What came to be known as the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the Royal Road of the Inner Province) has been used by the people of the Americas since prehistoric times. During the Spanish epoch, the road stretched from Mexico City to Taos,...
3: The Embudo Land Grant: A Brief History
Land set tlement in New Mexico is a very complicated issue. Three documents in particular are critical for understanding how the land was settled after the arrival of the first settlers under the auspices of the Spanish Crown. The first is the “Ordenanzas de descubrimientos, nueva población, y pacificación de las Indias” promulgated by King Philip II in 1573. These ordinances were in effect when Juan de Oñate followed the...
4: La merced: El juicio de la tierra
Land patterns in New Mexico trace back to the first type of land settlements under the Spanish Crown. From 1598 to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 the land that was typically given to settlers was known as an estancia, and there were two types—de ganado mayor (for cattle) and de ganado menor (usually for sheep and goats) (land grants didn’t come until after 1692). These types of land settlements are what today we ...
5: Mi Querencia: Acequia Junta y Ciénaga, a Sense of Place in a Displaced World
Now the last leg of our journey brings us to La Junta, to my almunyah de la junta de los ríos, my 2.5 acres on this beautiful and bountiful piece of land that has been in my family since 1725. It is an almunyah in the true sense of the word, in that it is both a private experimental garden and an orchard and a recreational space. Mine is the seventh head gate or regadera on the Acequia Junta y Ciénaga and the fourth piece of land. The...
Epilogue: A la acequia o a la escuela: Acequia Literacy
Our journey is now complete, and we now know the truism of the dicho Sin agua no hay vida (Without water there is no life). If we want to continue the traditions of our ancestors, from the Indus Valley to Embudo, water and community have to remain one. Water cannot become a commodity, for today more than ever we have to remember the Muslim Law of Thirst, that water belongs to every living thing, be it a plant, an animal,...
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