Princeton University’s

Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs

Junior Summer Institute

BLI's partnership with Princeton University allows NMHU students to attend the Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Summer Institute with a full scholarship. Students nominated by NMHU and accepted by Princeton participate in a seven-week institute focused on developing critical public policy skills. Rodrigo Blanco Rojas participated in the 2009 Junior Summer Institute.

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3rd Annual Land and Water Institute
Honoring Our Legacy,
Planting Seeds for the Future

New Mexico Highlands University

May 19, 2008

9:30 am

Keynote Presentation:

Regis Pecos, Chief of Staff to Ben Lujan, Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives

  Fulfilling Our Sacred Trust for Future Generations;
Our Land, Our Home and Our Identity; Water, Our Life Blood
10:30 am

Youth Inspiring Hope for the Future, Sembrando Semillas:

Toribio Garcia, How My Family Makes Chicos
DJ Duran, Cattle Driven
Margarita Garcia, Haciendo Posole

Testimonials from Community Leaders

Shirley Otero-Romero, Sangre de Cristo Land Grant
Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farm and Greenhouses
Victor Mascarenas, Mobile Matanza, Taos County Economic Development Corp.

12:30 pm
1:30 pm
  Challenges Facing Rio de las Gallinas Acequias, William Gonzales
2:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions:

Honoring Work Past and Current, Finding Common Ground for Next Steps
Land and Water Rights Struggles: Janice Varela and Juan Sanchez
Integrating Culture into Youth Education: Marcia Brenden and Miguel Santistevan
Agricultural Revitalization: Leonard Ludi and Don Bustos

3:30 pm
  Reflections from Breakout Groups
4:30 pm

Painting 1

May 19, 2008

Keynote Presentation by Regis Pecos

Chief of Staff for Ben Lujan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives

Regis Pecos has dedicated his career to advocating for American Indian citizens at the tribal, state and national levels. He was born and raised at Cochiti Pueblo and is a lifetime member of the Traditional Tribal Council. He has been a Council member since 1978 serving terms as Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Pecos is currently the Chief of Staff for Ben Lujan, the Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

He served the State of New Mexico and U.S. Government in many capacities including as a member of the Governor's Council of Policy Advisors on Rural Economic Development, the National Task Force on Cultural Resource and Rights Protection and the National Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Prevention Task Force.
As a member of the Land Reacquisition Task Force, he led the fight to return over 35,000 acres of land to Cochiti’s control. He has been a member of numerous other committees, including the Environmental Review Committee, the Economic Development Review Committee, and the Education Task Force.

Mr. Pecos received his Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Princeton University and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the awards he received are the New Mexico Distinguished Public Servant Award, New Mexico Department of Education Recognition Award, New Mexico Legislature Recognition Award for strengthening State and Tribal Relations and the New Mexico Association of Bilingual Education Award.


Our morning panelists will inspire us. Our communities are home to many people who are making agriculture a vital part of their spiritual and cultural practice as a way of life and some who are finding innovative ways to make a livelihood also. For the morning, we will put aside our battle wounds from the many struggles to defend land and water in order to see what our potential might look like for the future.

Panel Presentation - Youth Inspiring Hope for the Future

This session will be an opportunity for young people involved in Sembrando Semillas to share their multimedia projects. The mission of Sembrando Semillas is to improve community health and well-being through intergenerational community food projects that increase the cultivation of foods that are spiritually and culturally meaningful to our communities. Youth participants are mentored by traditional farmers and ranchers in their communities and families and produce digital storytelling pieces about their experiences. This panel will showcase their work from the past two years including videos about making chicos, processing posole, and raising cattle. Presenters include Toribio Garcia, high school student at Peñasco High School, DJ Duran, high school student at West Las Vegas High School, and Margarita Garcia, college student at University of New Mexico.

Panel Presentation - Testimonials from Community Leaders

The land and water rights movement has many dimensions in New Mexico and Southern Colorado. This panel will explore the work of three leaders who are living testimonials to the work needed to sustain land-based culture and livelihoods. Shirley Otero Romero, who was involved in the decades-long litigation to recover land rights on the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant in Southern Colorado, will discuss the importance of land rights and the movement to retain and recover land rights. Don Bustos, owner of Santa Cruz Farm and Greenhouses, will discuss his experience in creating a successful farm from which he earns a living and his perspective on the importance of water rights. Victor Mascarenas will discuss his experience in the renewal of organic wheat cultivation in northern New Mexico and his role in the mobile matanza project of Taos County Economic Development Corporation.

Plowing fields

May 19, 2008


Our afternoon will begin with a somber look at some of the systemic challenges facing land-based communities with a focus on the area where we are meeting, the Rio de las Gallinas watershed. That will be followed by a block of time for concurrent sessions which will feature brief presentations on time-tested strategies for addressing issues of loss of land and water rights from communities, engaging youth in agriculture from a cultural perspective, and putting land back into agricultural production. In addition to featuring the work of the presenters, the moderators of the concurrent sessions will facilitate an interactive discussion about the work and lessons learned of the participants. Each session will conclude with a summary of the work being done by participants and key areas of common ground.

Presentation – Challenges Facing Rio de las Gallinas Acequias – William Gonzales

This brief presentation will cover the serious challenges facing acequias in the Las Vegas area and the important work of the Rio de las Gallinas Acequia Association, an association of several acequias in the watershed, to defend the water rights of their respective parciantes. Acequias in the area deal with water shortages that are the result of several factors including lower water yield from the upper watershed, over diversions by the City of Las Vegas, and poor condition of infrastructure. In addition, local acequias are in an intense phase of the adjudication process which could result in forfeiture and abandonment of water rights. This presentation will challenge us to consider the systemic problems that face our communities if we are serious about protecting acequias and rebuilding local food systems.

Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Session 1 – Land and Water Rights Struggles – Moderator: Lucille Trujillo

This session will feature brief presentations by Janice Varela of the New Mexico Acequia Association and Shirley Otero Romero of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant. Janice will describe the work of the New Mexico Acequia Association to protect water as a community resource in the face of increasing commodification of water and other threats. Juan Sanchez will discuss the recent creation of the New Mexico Land Grant Council to protect and recover common lands and seek remedies for the historical loss of common lands.

Concurrent Session 2 – Integrating Culture into Youth Education – Moderator: Teresa Trujillo

This session will feature brief presentations by Marcia Brendan with the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations and the ENLACE program which works with several schools in northern New Mexico to expose students to local culture through field activities and by Miguel Santistevan who co-founded the Sembrando Semillas Program of the New Mexico Acequia Association which seeks to create the next generation of parciantes through hands-on, community based experiential educational activities.

Concurrent Session 3 – Agricultural Revitalization – Leonard Ludi and Don Bustos – Moderator: Marcela Cruz

This session will feature stories about the efforts of two farmers to lead by example. They will discuss their lessons learned as a result of years of experience in the hopes that others may be inspired to explore the potential for their own farming and ranching operations. Both will also discuss and offer recommendations for creation of projects or programs that can help to replicate their success for others working on small-scale agriculture.

3rd Annual Land and Water Institute
Honoring Our Legacy,
Planting Seeds for the Future

May 20, 2008


8:30 am

Overview of Community Mapping: Panel Discussion

Quita Ortiz: Changing Land Use Patterns on Acequia de Alcalde
Estevan Arellano: Mapping the Querencia: The Commons and the Uncommon
Arnie Valdez: Memorias, Mapping, and Querencia
Sylvia Rodriguez: Mapping the Irrigated and Sacred Landscape

11:00 am
  Community Issues and Policy: Carmen Lopez
12:00 pm
1:00 pm

Concurrent Sessions 1:

Acequias: Defending Water and Protecting Farmland: Paula Garcia
Land Grants: Strategies for Protecting and Recovering the Commons: Shirley Otero Romero
Linking Universities to Community-Based Research: Manuel Garcia y Griego

2:00 pm
2:30 pm

Concurrent Sessions 2:

Integrating Agricultural and Natural Resources Education into Schools: Eric Romero
Local Food Production and Processing: Victor Mascarenas
Creating Community-based Processes for Research and Documentation: Sylvia Rodriguez

3:30 pm
  Reports from Breakouts: Major Themes for Program or Policy
4:30 pm

May 20, 2008


The morning of the second day of the institute will be focused on an exploration of mapping as a tool to understand current conditions of communities and the landscape as well as to visualize the future. It will be followed by a brief presentation to challenge us to consider what might be the policy implications of the lessons learned, challenges identified, and methods discussed up to that point in the institute. This will be a transition to the afternoon portion of the agenda which is dedicated to identifying recommendations in several topic areas.

Panel Presentation - Overview of Community Mapping

Community mapping is a potentially powerful tool for articulating ‘querencia’ or love of place by using visual representations of the landscape to express indigenous knowledge of the landscape and to express profound cultural connections to places. This panel will include a visual journey through some important work in the area of community mapping of the cultural landscape as well as brief presentations about specific work that has been done to address critical community needs. Quita Ortiz will share work from her master’s thesis in which she used maps to illustrate the changing land use patterns of the Acequia de Alcalde and to discuss the implications for these changes on the health of the community and local ecology. Estevan Arellano will discuss the importance of local knowledge, approaches to surfacing that knowledge in a community setting, and an example of cultural mapping in the Embudo watershed. Arnie Valdez will share his work that has been done in association with the Sangre de Cristo land grant in San Luis which was a vital part of the work to develop community-based strategies for management of land and water resources upon having regained use rights in the historic commons. Sylvia Rodriguez will discuss her work done in the Taos Valley at the request of community leaders who wanted to document traditional knowledge and customs concerning water sharing among acequias. She will also discuss the way in which rituals in the Taos Valley sanctify the landscape as part of the cultural underpinning for the practice of sharing water.

Presentation: Community Issues and Policy

In this presentation Carmen Lopez of the Ben Lujan Leadership and Public Policy Institute will lead a discussion about the policy implications of the issues identified as part of the institute. One of the primary objectives of the Institute is to create a forum for communities to identify issues of concern and develop policy strategies to address those concerns. She will introduce us to a process that can break down a social change goal into tangible and achievable policy objectives

May 20, 2008


These are sessions that are focused by theme and potential policy development outcomes. Each session will have a ‘discussant’ that will help to stimulate discussion and a facilitator/recorder to keep the sessions on time and take notes. Volunteers will be solicited to provide reports to the large group. For purposes of these sessions, “policy” is defined very broadly to include; local governments, such as acequias, land grants, and counties; community organizations; state level bodies, such as agencies and the legislature; and federal agencies and Congress. Furthermore, policy change broadly includes changes in rules, institutional practices and norms, or resource allocation.

Concurrent Session 1:

Acequias: Defending Water and Protecting Farmland; Paula Garcia will discuss recent efforts to defend water via acequia governance and potential tools for protecting farmland through estate planning. Recorder: Kenny Salazar

Land Grants: Strategies for Protecting and Recovering the Commons; Shirley Otero Romero will discuss the implications of the victory of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and what strategies might be useful for other land grants.
Recorder: Janice Varela

Linking Universities to Community-Based Research; Manuel Garcia y Griego will discuss efforts to create a center for the study of land grants at the University of New Mexico.
Recorder: Harold Trujillo

Concurrent Session 2:

Integrating Agricultural and Natural Resources Education into Schools: Eric Romero will discuss past work in doing curriculum development around community-based natural resource issues through NMHU.
Recorder: Lucille Trujillo

Local Food Production and Processing: Victor Mascarenas will lead a discussion on the challenges facing our communities with regard to food processing and potential strategies to address needs in the region.
Recorder: Sarah Lang-Gilliat

Creating Community-Based Processes for Research and Documentation: Sylvia Rodriguez will lead a discussion on the importance of sustaining indigenous knowledge and approaches that communities might use to document that knowledge in a community setting. Recorder: Kenny Salazar