Enduring Acequias: Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water

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Author Juan Estevan Arellano poses with the first copy of his newly released book. Photo by Elena Arellano.
BOOK RELEASE: Enduring Acequias: Wisdom of the Land, Knowledge of the Water by Juan Estevan Arellano

UNM Press has recently published Juan Estevan Arellano’s latest book on community irrigation, “Enduring Acequias: Wisdom of the Land, Knowlwdge of Water.” The book is part of UNM Press Querencia Series.

The book, which Arellano had been working on for sometime finally arrived at the UNM Press warehouse on Sept. 9, and the author himself received his first copy on Sept. 11. This is the third book by hispanos on New Mexico’s acequias in the past 20 years, with Dr. Jose Rivera’s book (also by UNM Press) dealt mostly with the culture of acequias, and Dr. Sylvia Rodriquez’ book was more about the spirituality of water and the acequias, Arellano’s book deal with the role of the landscape on acequias, especially the land grants.

Arellano goes into detail of how closely the land grants are related to the health of the acequias. To understand acequias one has to understand the role of the mercedes (land grants) and its place names and their importance in understanding querencia. He uses the Embudo land grant and how the Laws of the Indies are a blueprint of how the land was divided and used successfully to save the agricultural land until Los Alamos came and changed how people viewed the land.

Rivera wrote, “Only Juan Estevan Arellano could have written about the sacred knowledge of water from a perspective of a nuevomexicano who has spent a lifetime observing and learning from his elders and mentors, people who passed on to him the memory of the land, water, and community. Arellano should be declared a State of New Mexico Historic Treasure.”

Enduring Acequias CoverJack Loeffler, coeditor of Thinking Like a Watershed: Voices from the West, added, “Juan Estevan Arellano is indigenous to his landscape. He is deeply in touch with his querencia, and he has written a handbook for the Rio Arriba bioregion that also serves as a perfect guide for everyone who is concerned with understanding a cultural relationship with homeland. Five gold stars to this great thinker.”

In October, Arellano will be presenting his book first at the P’oe Tsawa Library at Ohkay Owingeh on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 6:00 p.m. Then in Santa Fe and Albuquerque; On Oct. 9 he will be at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.) in Santa Fe at 6:00 p.m and in Albuquerque at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW) on Oct. 12 at 3:00 p.m. Then on Oct. 20 he will give a presentation on acequias and have his book available at the Santa Fe Hotel at 6:00 p.m. Then on Oct. 25 he will be at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and at Oasis in Albuquerque on Oct. 30 from 1:00 to 2:30.

Visit UNM Press for more information about purchasing this book. To schedule a book signing and reading contact Arellano directly at (505) 579-4027 or via email at estevanarellano@gmail.com