Dia de San Antonio – Celebrando las Acequias

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Join us for a celebration of Dia de San Antonio.  It will be two days filled with prayer, education, and celebration.  Friday will begin with a procession to honor San Antonio.  The NMAA will provide two workshops: Acequia Water Banking and Acequia Easements and the evening will include a presentation honoring local community members for their contributions to the acequias. 


7:00am  Procession

10:00am Workshop Water Banking

12:00pm  Lunch

1:30pm Workshop Easements

5:00pm Art Exhibition

6:00pm Food and Music!!

7:00pm Ceremony Honoring Community Members


9am – 12noon Mapping Presentations

For more information, call 505-995-9644. 


Mayordomo: The keeper of the Water and Traditions  

By Estevan Arellano 

 A couple of years back at the unveiling of a sculpture in Taos I was talking with State Historian Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez and he made a comment that has stuck in my mind ever since. He said, “There should be a sculpture of a mayordomo instead of only famous people, because it was people like them who have really made New Mexico what it is today.” We continued our conversation that most of the people honored, if from the past, were the conquistadores and if from today, the politicians.

      Everywhere buildings are named after a politician, but never do we see the illusive image of someone who has really made northern New Mexico what it is today, and that is a mayordomo, or a sembrador – a farmer – or a rancher.

      There is song of “la Llorona loca,” walking the banks of the acequia at night, but what about the mayordomo?

      To be a mayordomo, or the one who manages the water in an ancient acequia, is an honor and today very hard work. I say “ancient” acequia because of an old document about an Embudo land transaction found at the state archives by Dr. Danna Levin from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, from 1788 which mentions “la acequia antigua” that had been in use since the beginning of the settlement, presumably in 1725 when the Embudo land grant was made.

      Which brings me back to honoring our mayordomos with a sculpture, not in a manicured sculptured garden, a state museum or the Capitol Rotunda but rather along the banks of the acequias in his natural habitat. That is, where the acequias are visible from the road.

      When I think of a mayordomo, two people come to mind, both died in 1992. Pablo Romero, mayordomo of the Acequia de la Plaza in Dixon was a walking encyclopedia when it came acequias and farming: both were more than friends, they were my mentors. The other was Cleofes Vigil from San Cristobal; known to most people as a folklorist.

      But since Pablo was my neighbor I spent many hours under an old apple tree talking about acequias, fruit trees, chile, etc. He opened my eyes to how complex the acequia landscape used to be and how he used grapes vines as “cortinas,” curtains, to create edible, private spaces. And since his land was traversed by an arroyo, by terracing, his father had taught him to turn what could have been a negative into a positive space where they grew peaches. Terraces add a sculptural feeling to the landscape.

      On June 13th, the community of Embudo will be honoring two persons, one a mayordomo and the other a sembrador, at the first annual “Celebrando las acequias” during the annual Día de San Antonio events to be held at the Embudo Community Center and the Mission Embudo in Dixon, sponsored by the Embudo Valley Library, the New Mexico Acequia Association and the Embudo Valley Acequia Association.

      Dr. Rael-Galvez will be present to make the presentations and hopefully plant the symbolic seed to realize his dream. If Spain has their national symbol of a bull everywhere, why can’t we in New Mexico have the mayordomo, whom is also a sembrador, walking the “bordo,” or bank with his shovel resting on his shoulder?

      The mayordomo will be Aaron Griego, a retired educator and coach, who has been mayordomo of the Acequia de la Plaza for 50 years and orchardist Fred Martinez, who has a 3,500-tree orchard, irrigated by the Leonardo Martinez Acequia. 

      Their own community will finally recognize the most honorable of all occupations – to be a mayordomo and sembrador.

      Join us for this historic occasion starting at 5:00 for the opening of an art exhibit.

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