Land, Culture and Kids: Local Event Gathers Generations of Farmers, Ranchers and Land Advocates 

On June 5, La Tierra Montessori Charter School of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with Rio Arriba County (RAC), hosted an event to commemorate the historical Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid of 1967. Although honored guest, Reies Lopez Tijerina, was not able to make it due to illness, speakers such as RAC Clerk and Co-Courthouse Raider Moises Morales, Mora County Commissioner John Olivas and several representatives from land and water based associations were still able to speak to the crowd.

While, attendees learned about the history of land grant issues in New Mexico and the movement to re-claim those lands by Native Hispanics, they also learned what efforts were being made by La Tierra to continue traditions of farming and land maintenance. Roger Montoya, Co-founder, and Arts and Culture Coordinator for La Tierra, explained that students, from kindergarten to 7th grade, utilize local associations and organizations to implement farming skills into their daily curriculum. Los Luceros Historical Museum, where the event took place, served as a prime example of the projects students completed, which included gardening, Acequia work and tree trimming.    

“Reies Lopez Tijerina left us with a legacy and how we move forward to perpetuate what he believed in is up to us,” said Montoya. “The most important thing I could do with my life and in education was to create a school that would literally infuse the daily work rituals around cultura de los Acequias…mentoring and passing of traditions is the most important thing.”       

Shirley Romero, Colorado Land Grant Activist, also spoke to the importance of educating youth about sustainable living traditions and their tie-in to the Hispanic culture after presentations from several La Tierra students, who gave praise their educational experience thus far.

“We must continue to educate the public and raise youth to cherish the importance of our land and how necessary it is to keep it healthy and thriving,” said Montoya. “Without generations to preserve what we have left, we stand to lose a lot. We have to learn not only to sustain our well being, but to also sustain the cultural significance we have on the land here in New Mexico.”

-Erika L. Martinez, June 2013