The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Signpost Cartoon copyright Rudi Klimpert
No swimming—pool will open in July

The new Bernalillo swimming pool remained closed through June because the town was unable to hire any Red Cross-certified lifeguards. The Red Cross has been experiencing problems with training-personnel illness and relocation, so there is a lifeguard shortage throughout the area. The pools at Santa Ana and Sandia Pueblos are closed for maintenance. That left the Rio Grande as the only option for locals looking to get wet and cool off.

Fortunately, according to town recreation director Jason Soto, the town has scheduled training classes for lifeguard applicants, and the pool should open in early July.

El Rinconcito español

Más vale poco bueno que mucho malo.
A little good is better than a lot of bad.

Si los años hicieran sabios, no habría viejos tontos.

If advancing years brought wisdom there wouldn’t be old fools.

Aunque salga de manos asquerosas, el dinero siempre huele a rosas.
Though it may come from disgusting hands, money always smells like roses.

Submitted by SOS-panyol, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills,

Las Placitas Association offers visit to Scott garden

Chuck and Sara Jane Scott's glorious garden was long a favorite of the Las Placitas Association's former garden tours. While LPA doesn't host the annual tours anymore, we're delighted to offer a return trip—for free—to the Scott garden.

Join us at 9:00 a.m. on July 15 at their home off Tunnel Springs Road in Placitas. While Chuck jokes that what you're most likely to see is ravenous rabbits, deer, squirrels, and chipmunks, you'll also see fruit trees, zinnias, waxleaf begonias, and majestic ailanthuses—the tree of heaven. Chuck and Sara Jane have been converting parts of their lawn to Xeriscape and have much advice to share on that.

Besides the man-made environment, a stream runs through the many-acred property, which also features a hiking trail.

The Scotts' property borders the national forest. Several years ago, they placed twenty acres of it under a conservation easement overseen by LPA to protect it from development. It's a rare and lovely property, with cool and shady areas to simply sit and relax in.

To get there, go south on Tunnel Springs Road (toward the mountain) for four-tenths of a mile to La Puerta Trail. Turn left on La Puerta and follow it all the way back to the Scotts' property.

Las Placitas Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving open space and the environmental and cultural aspects that make our community what it is.

1767 Placitas Land Grant a contemporary issue

Among his last acts on the last day of 1767, New Mexico Governor Pedro Fermín de Mendinueta granted to a group of settlers the lands now known as Placitas.

The people of the San Antonio de las Huertas community grant wasted little time taking possession of the land and water in a formal ceremony duly reported to the governor by the visiting alcalde who ran the proceedings.

“I took them by the hand and they tore up weeds and threw rocks and shouted three times, 'Long live the King,'” the alcalde wrote in Spanish (paraphrased from a copy of the document by former state historian Robert Tórrez).

“It's not just a quaint custom,” Tórrez told a recent meeting of the Las Placitas Association. “It's a public proclamation.
“You literally had to run your fingers through the dirt.”

Tórrez described an elaborate legal process requiring settlers to organize themselves, petition the governor, and demonstrate that they sought public lands not granted to other Spaniards or to the Indian pueblos.

The settlers had started the grant process two years earlier with a petition to the previous governor listing the residents wanting to farm and graze the lands spread along Cañon de Las Huertas and up the forested slopes of the Sandia Mountains. The governor dispatched the alcalde of Santo Domingo to inspect the land in the area known as Las Huertas and to consult with pueblo leaders.

“He was specifically not to prejudice the rights of the pueblos,” Tórrez said. Despite occasional lapses, Spanish law protected pueblo land grants preserving the tribes as cultural entities, he added.

The alcalde certified to the governor that the requested lands were public and that neighboring pueblos had not objected. Nothing happened, however, and it took a second petition to restart the process and win the governor's promise to extend the eastern boundary of the tract, Placitas historian Suzanne Sims Forrest wrote in a 1996 New Mexico Historical Review article.

The grant document was torn, and the eastern boundary of the grant remained uncertain, she added.

Regardless, the residents lived if not prospered in their fortified village into the 1820s when the now Mexican governor ordered many smaller settlements abandoned due to problems with Plains Indians and other marauders. Families moved back to the grant by the early 1840s, establishing small villages with plazas which gave the area its new name, Las Placitas.

Tórrez treaded carefully on the topic of how Spanish and Mexican land grants evolved after the U.S. conquest of 1846 and a treaty offering a general guarantee protecting the rights of former Mexican citizens. The burden of proving grants fell on the people; very few grants survived wholly intact; and others disappeared completely through means fair and foul, creating disputes still being presented to Congress, he said.

“In New Mexico, it's not a historical issue, it's a contemporary issue,” Tórrez said. “Being aware of the shenanigans allows us to understand the bitterness in some areas.”

The name of attorney Thomas B. Catron, reputed head of the Santa Fe Ring, appears in some of the more controversial disputes, and it was he Placitas residents hired in the 1890s after previous attempts to patent the Las Huertas grant had failed.

Catron succeeded, but the court took the forty-eight-thousand-acre grant—130,000 acres by some claims—and confirmed only the settlers' individual tracts, a total of 4,663 acres.

And Catron took a third of that as payment for his services, land-grant member Tony Lucero told the Legislature's Land Grant Committee in 2004. The many thousands of acres of common lands used by grant residents for grazing and wood gathering became public land and eventually national forest, he said.

One lawsuit attempting to partition the grant among its member failed, according to Forrest's research, but in 1916 the Las Huertas Land Grant Association won court approval to divide the land among members so it could be sold to cover the costs of years of litigation.

Today the association controls about five hundred acres of the original grant.

Rockin’ R to host cowboy celebration

The Rockin’ R Gallery in Placitas has been selected as the official New Mexico site for a July 22 celebration of National Day of the Cowboy.

Gary Roller, co-owner of the Rockin’ R said, “It’s a real honor to be chosen to host this celebration in a state like ours with such a strong Western culture. We plan to celebrate Day of the Cowboy throughout the month, starting with our July 8 chuck-wagon dinner and concert. July 22 will include another chuck-wagon dinner, followed by two speaking performances.”

Roller said that the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating the fourth Saturday in July, the day already observed throughout the country, as a day of celebration of cowboy heritage. For more information, call 867-9595 or visit






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