History of the Tierra Amarilla Grant, northern New Mexico
Life moves slowly in Tierra Amarilla. Although the Courthouse has a new coat of paint and the general store is open, the old business district consists mostly of deserted and crumbling adobe buildings.
This is "Alianza country." During the 1960's, a political movement was organized by Reies Tijerina to obtain redress for purported injustices with respect to federal and private lands in north-central New Mexico.
The issues are complex and inflammatory. The basic com-plaint is that lands which once belonged to the Mexican American populace were taken from them through designation of National Forests and fraudulent acquisition of Spanish and Mexican land grants by 19th-century Anglo land barons.
The Alianza movement reached its peak on June 5, 1967, when the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla was raided by a group of Tijerina supporters. Two deputies were wounded in the raid, and one man was killed in later related feuding. Tijerina eventually served a term in jail for his part in organizing the raid.
Although the Alianza movement has now quieted down, periodic incidents of violence and talk of "land takeover" persist to the present time. Obviously the basic complaints—real or imagined—remain in the hearts and minds of many of the region's Mexican-American inhabitants.
- Butler, Charles, 1977, History of the Tierra Amarilla Grant, northern New Mexico, in: San Juan Basin III, Fassett, J. E.; James, H. L.; Hodgson, Helen E., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 28th Field Conference, pp. 91-92.