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Acequia Limpia in Chamisal

By Juliet Garcia-Gonzales

On the morning of Saturday, April 29th some of the NMAA Sembrando Semillas youth group was able to walk alongside 31 peones and mayordomo, Candido Dominguez, as they cleaned the Acequia Madre in Chamisal.

The avisador had made contact with the property owners the prior week, and everyone was to meet at the compuerta where the acequia madre ends. To the north of this compuerta is the Acequia del Medio, and to the east is the Acequia Del Monte.

We started out early, making sure we had our equipment set up to record the peones. I have always wanted to photograph the peones, but have always had a great deal of reverence for the practice. With a sincere interest from some of the youth, we asked the mayordomo, and he allowed us to record audio, video, and take still photos.

The mayordomo assigned 3 different groups. The first group, composed of 3 individuals, was in charge of cutting jaras. The second group and third group were broken up equally, and they all had palas.

The age range of all the peones was between 16 and 77 years old. There was mutual respect between them all, and a genuine camaraderie. The majority of the peones were from Chamisal, and some were from the surrounding area. In the past few years, the acequias have been an opportunity to make some money. It is not much, but it is advantageous for the peon, and beneficial to the acequia community.

Toribio, Michael, Adam, Kevin, and Isaac, Sembrando Semillas youth members, were acequieros that day. Donne, Augustine, Ignacio & I, were taking photos, and had a few opportunities to speak with and interview the peones. We asked them to share with us a story about the acequia.

As we reached the compuerta in Ojito, and everyone stepped out of the Acequia, the mayordomo's son sat on the compuerta and turned the wheel, lifting the gate, and allowing the water to flow. It was a very powerful experience.

At the end of the acequia limpia, the mayordomo's wife, Aurora was there to assist with the paperwork. At this point, any peon who was assigned on behalf of a landowner is given a notita. The notita is the Acequias Property Owner Work Receipt, which states the acequia name, date, name of the worker, the number of hours worked, and the name of the property owner. You are then entitled to present this notita to the property owner for payment.

The acequia allowed us the opportunity to see a side of Chamisal that we have never seen before. We crossed many fences, and heard many concerns. Over the course of the next couple of months, the youth will use this material to compose a short film, and write the stories shared with us.

Ā”Que Vivan las Acequias! #32 – Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute. Part 2

Produced by Miguel Santistevan in collaboration with Cultural Energy (www.culturalenergy.org). Made possible with grants from the Panta Rhea and Christensen Foundations.

In show #32 you can hear the first presentation of the 3rd Annual Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute held at New Mexico Highlands University on May 19 & 20, 2008 by the youth leaders of the Sembrando Semillas Acequia Youth Project: Toribio Garcia, DJ Duran, and Margaret Garcia. The objectives for the Institute are to convene community leaders, youth, and students to learn from successful projects and campaigns to protect land and water rights, to discuss ways to replicate projects that demonstrate the viability of land-based livelihoods, and to identify strategies to integrate community interests and knowledge into the educational system.

Special thanks to Cipriano Vigil for our theme music and the B-Side Players for this monthā€™s musical selection.

Download episode: 32quevivan.mp3

Sembrando Semillas roadtrip to Hopi & the Grand Canyon!

From L to R: Rory Pino, Andrew and Samantha MascareƱas, and DJ Duran check out Window Rock

Hopi farmer David (left) and Andrew make a personal connection and later exchange seeds…

Can you believe his corn is planted 1.5 feet deep and never gets irrigated? Believe it!

We learned that even though we are from different places with different histories, we have a lot in common…

After our trip to Hopi, we went to the Grand Canyon…

Pictured at top, left to right: Lucille Trujillo, Pam Garcia, Miguel Santistevan, DJ Duran, & Samantha MascareƱas. At bottom: Paula Garcia, Travis McKenzie, Rory Pino, and Andrew MascareƱas. Not pictured: Christina Garcia.

Chamisal team plants papas!

2 acre field

Sembrando Semillas members Toribio Garcia, Eric Casados, and Augustine Gonzales are busy burying potatoes while mentors Edward Gonzales, Crestino Gonzales, and Rudy Sanchez plant. This is the first time this field has been planted in crops, having been pasture for many years. Thanks to Toribio’s grandfather for plowing and discing the land.

Toribio uses a small tractor to cover the potatoes while Eric and Augustine make sure they are covered completely.

Sembrando Semillas video to be shown at film festival!

Taking cattle to the sierra in LeDoux

DJ Duran, junior at West Las Vegas High School, is going for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place at the Ā”ESE! (Espanola Showing Excellence!) Film Festival to be held FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2008 in the ‘Cultural Documentary‘ category. His film is entitled ‘Cattle Driven’ and features information about his cattle ranching traditions in Chacon, New Mexico. In his film you will get to see rare footage of taking cattle to mountain pasture, acequia irrigation, and other cattle ranching traditions. Come to the film festival and vote for your favorite entries!

Date: Friday, April 18, 2008

Time: 7-9 pm

Place: Northern new Mexico College, Center for the Arts Auditorium

DJ Duran, Sembrando Semillas member since 2005




Ā”Que Vivan las Acequias! #27 – Sembrando Semillas Youth Hike La Jicarita Peak

Episode 27 of Ā”Que Vivan las Acequias! – produced by Miguel Santistevan of the NMAA in collaboration with Cultural Energy (www.culturalenergy.org). Made possible with a grant from the Panta Rhea Foundation.

This show features interviews of Sembrando Semillas members, mentors, and chaperones from a La Jicarita backpacking trip held July 16 & 17, 2007. In this program we talk about hiking to La Jicarita peak, the source of our water and the watershed, and being silent in nature. Participants include:

Celestino Chavez, Taos

RJ Chavez, TaosLa Jicaritaā€™s shoulder

Toribio Garcia, Chamisal

Joshua Rivera, Mora

Angel Martinez, Taos

Andrew MascareƱas, Urraca

Augustine Gonzales, Chamisal

Done Gonzales, Chamisal

James Duran, Chacon

Dominic Chavez, Taos

Mentor and chaperone Victor MascareƱas

Chaperone Reynaldo Santistevan


Mentor and chaperone Margarita Garcia.

A special thanks to The Center for Whole Communities in Vermont for helping to fund this backpacking trip. Additional thanks to Rocky Mountain Youth Corp in Taos for lending us backpacking equipment for this trip.

Theme music by Cipriano Vigil and this month’s musical selection, “Esperanza,” by the B-Side Players.

Download episode: 27quevivan.mp3

Ā”Que Vivan las Acequias! #25

Episode 25 of Ā”Que Vivan las Acequias! – produced by Miguel Santistevan of the NMAA in collaboration with Cultural Energy (www.culturalenergy.org).

This show features a Sembrando Semillas workshop held on October 20, 2007 in Chamisal, New Mexico.Ā  In this program you can hear the Sembrando Semillas team learn how to make posole from blue corn.Ā  Featured in this show are:

Maximiliano Garcia: mentor in the making of posole.

Miguel Santistevan: recorder and interviewer.

Margaret Garcia: youth mentor.

Victor MascareƱas, Taos Sembrando Semillas mentor.

AND Youth participants:

RJ Chavez, Taos High School senior.

Juan Felipe Roybal, PeƱasco High School junior.
Adam Casados, PeƱasco High School.

Karen Mirabal, Taos college student.

Toribio Garcia, PeƱasco High School junior.

Michael Fresquez, PeƱasco High School.

Music by Cipriano Vigil and David Garcia y su conjunto.

Download episode: 25quevivan.mp3

Sembrando Semillas makes Posole

Angel Martinez harvesting blue cornDesgranando maiz azul

On Saturday, October 20, 2007, the Sembrando Semillas team gathered in Chamisal to learn how to make posole from blue corn. This workshop was led by our mentor Maximiliano Garcia with great support from his family. The workshop was attended by Taosā€™ RJ Chavez, Karen Mirabal, as well as Questaā€™s Andrew, Samantha, Jordan, and Lauren MascareƱas. Penasco Semillas included Toribio Garcia, Michael Fresquez, Juan Felipe Roybal, Adam & Eric Casados, and Donne, Augustine, & Ignacio Gonzales.

RJ Chavez and Mr. Garcia stir posole

We learned about the entire process of making posole, starting with the planting and harvesting of blue corn last year. The workshop consisted of desgranando el maiz, aigriandolo, lavandolo, and boiling the corn with cal (slake lime) until it turned orange and the seed shell started coming off. It then had to be rinsed several times to remove the cal. At that point it was frozen or could also be dried for later use. Posole, like chicos, is a fundamental food in northern New Mexico culture so having this knowledge is important. You will be able to hear about this workshop on the November edition of ā€œĀ”Que Vivan las Acequias!ā€

Posoleā€¦ready to cook