Pedro A. Casados Sr. 81 a lifelong farmer and rancher of El Guique, New Mexico passed on peacefully on January 20th. He and his wife Juanita Archuleta de Casados are notably known for their family’s widely recognized indigenous New Mexican food business known as the Casados Farms. He was influential in politics and in civic circles in and out of the Española Valley throughout his life. He prided himself in being self-reliant, “never working for anyone yet working very hard throughout his life to build his business and managing his beloved land.” As it is mentioned in his obituary, “He understood the value of land and the food that grows from it when you nurture the land.” He managed two farms, one in El Guique and the other in the neighboring community of Chamita. In addition to what he yielded from his own farms he worked together with other farmers from the valley to distribute various native food products such as pozol, chicos, atole, and chile in addition to other products such as sopapilla mix. The Casados family sustained their business using traditional methods in managing the land. In addition, their food products under the leadership of Mr. Casados were prepared using native technologies such as the horno to cook or dehydrating dried foods in the sun. These products would then go on to be distributed locally and nation wide. His respect for native methods extended to the native method of growing crops only during the short spring and summer seasons and allowing the land rest during the fall and winter months. Pedro A Casados knowledge of the land included a profound knowledge of managing the water. As the saying goes, “Agua es vida,” Mr. Casados knew that practices of irrigation extended beyond the confines of his own ranches and stretched into the community. Here he served as community leader on the San Rafael del Guique Acequia for many years as both a Mayordomo and as part of the Comisión of the Acequia. In this capacity he helped the community of El Guique organize the building of it’s drainage diversion dams which prevented much erosion from causing harm to the valuable agricultural lands below. One of the legacies of Pedro A. Casados Sr. left the greater Acequia community was his ability to affirm our traditional knowledges and make a sustainable and honorable livelihood by the sweat of his brow. He showed us the dignity of knowing and working the land. He his remembered most vividly by many of his friends riding his horse in the mountains checking up on his cattle, working at what he loved best. I personally never met Mr. Casados, however I was asked by the family to sing at Mr. Casados’ funeral this past week. They requested I sing “Canción de las Acequias.” His son Peter Casados Jr. shared with me his sentiment, “That song is what my father's life was about.” So as they laid this well respected man to rest in the land he worked and loved so much, we honored his memory by intoning these words:
La noche esta llegando,
Yo sigo trabajando,
Lo que yo quiero tanto.
Pedro A Casados Sr. QEPD
David F. García NMAA Community Education