The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Shirley Cushing Flint and Richard Flint

Shirley Cushing Flint and Richard Flint, historians

Corrales Speaker May Series explores the Coronado Expedition of 1539-1542

Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint, historians and Spanish paleographers, are among the foremost authorities on the Coronado Expedition. They have spent nearly 30 years studying the Coronado Expedition and the peoples it met, as well as the contexts that shaped the behaviors of both groups. They have conducted research in Mexico, Spain, and the United States and have directed two conferences on the expedition.

No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada (2008) is Dr. Richard Flint’s newest book on the subject and will be highlighted in this Speaker’s Series lecture "Understanding the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542," on May 22 at 7:00 p.m. It explores why things happened and sheds new light on crucial events of the past. Important implications for the twenty-first century are also revealed.

The Coronado Entrada of 1539-42 marked the earliest large-scale contact between Europeans and Native Americans in what is now the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. The Entrada established a historical watershed, a cusp between history and prehistory. The Flint’s extensive research and archaeological investigations along the Entrada route reshapes our understanding of the expedition, exposes past misinformation, and explores important elements previously unknown or ignored. Interesting facts, including the size of the Entrada and where its support came from, will be covered.

Separately and in collaboration, the Flints have published many articles as well as three books, including Great Cruelties Have Been Reported: The 1544 Investigation of the Coronado Expedition (SMU, 2002).

Richard Flint holds a Ph.D. in Colonial Latin American and Western U.S. History from UNM. He is a Fulbright Scholar and recipient of numerous grants and awards. Shirley Cushing Flint holds an MA in American Studies from NM Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM.

The Flint’s presentation will takes place in the Old San Ysidro Church on Old Church Road across from Casa San Ysidro in Corrales. The event is free and open to the public. No reservations are required.

Blue Flax

Mountain wildflowers of the Southern Rockies and Central New Mexico

Blue Flax

Linum lewisii Pursh


Flax Family—Linaceae
Sky blue saucer-shaped flowers wave in the breeze on slender, tall stems. Dark veins line the five delicate petals of the inch-wide flowers. The two-foot-tall unbranched stems rising from a woody base bear narrow leaves and a loose flower cluster. Stands of blue flax are splendid morning sights, but by afternoon, the delicate petals have fallen, leaving only green sepals on the stems and fallen blue petals on the ground. Blue flax blooms in early summer in dry meadows from piñon-juniper to the Douglas-fir zone.

When Meriwether Lewis, leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, first encountered blue flax, he recognized that “the bark of the stem is thick and strong and appears as if it would make excellent flax.” Indeed, pre-Columbian Native Americans used blue flax fiber for weaving and making fishing line. Frederick Pursh, who gave the botanical name to the plant, noted, “Flowers large, blue, a very good perennial, and it might probably become a useful plant if cultivated.” Today, blue flax is available in nurseries throughout the West.

Flax seeds contain prussic acid, a substance with medicinal properties. Indians incorporated blue flax seeds in their medicine kit, and European flax has long been known to have curative powers. In the eighth century, no less an authority than Charlemagne decreed that flax seeds should be consumed in order to maintain good health.

Excerpted from Mountain Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies, by Carolyn Dodson and William W. Dunmire. Published by University of New Mexico Press.

El Rinconcito español

• Aquellos son ricos que tienen amigos.
Rich are those who have friends.

• Bolsa sin dinero, llámala cuero.
An empty purse is only leather.

• Cada uno extiende la pierna hasta donde alcanza la cobija.
Everyone stretches his leg as far as the blanket reaches.

Submitted by, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

Coronado State Monument offers variety of events

The Friends of Coronado State Monument are sponsoring a tin punching workshop at the Monument on Saturday, May 10 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The workshop will be instructed by tinsmith Jason Younis y Delgado. Jason learned tin punching from his grandmother Angelina Martinez and today continues the craft of five family generations. Most of his tools were given to him by his grandmother, and he makes punches to reproduce designs of seventeenth-century Spanish Colonial tinwork, incorporating his own unique imagery and drawing from traditional family patterns and historical tinwork. The cost of the workshop is $75, including a sheet of tin. Tools are provided. For more information, please contact Jason at (505) 385-3525.

At a special gourd workshop on May 17 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., create birdhouses, bird feeders, masks, folk-art chickens, Southwestern dolls, or whatever interests you. Decorate gourds with Native American or Hispanic designs or your own imagination. We supply glue, paint, beads, feathers, and other materials. Receive one practice buffalo gourd with admission. A selection of gourds for additional projects will be available for purchase at nominal prices. Come yourself or bring the whole family. Please bring your imagination and a sack lunch. The cost for the workshop is $20 per person. Reservations are required. Please call Pat at 822-8571 to register.

At a workshop on May 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., learn the art of flint knapping, or how the Native Americans made arrowheads and spear points from obsidian. The cost is $30 for instruction and materials. You will keep the arrowheads, scrapers, and points you make. To keep a toolkit (including goggles, gloves, a leather pad to work on, a leather hand pad, and tools) as well as extra workable stone, there will be an additional fee of $20. For over twenty years, workshop instructor Luther Rivera has made the tools of our American Indian ancestors. Honored with the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Award in 2001, he has also received awards from the Forest Service and an Achievement Award from the Archaeology Society of Albuquerque for making historically accurate arrowhead and point reproductions. This workshop is for adults only, and is limited to twenty participants. To reserve your space, please call Pat at 822-8571. Please bring a lunch and water.

On May 22 at 7:00 p.m., Friends of Coronado State Monument will sponsor a presentation by Dr. Brad Vierra, renowned archeologist and author, entitled “Archaeological remains of the Coronado expedition: A sixteenth-century campsite in the Tiguex.” The lecture will discuss the only fully-documented archaeological excavation that can be attributed to the Coronado expedition. Admission is $5 per person.

All workshops will be held at the Coronado State Monument, 485 Kuaua Road, located about a mile off I-25, exit 242, just west of the town of Bernalillo on Highway 550.

Jubilee Community Garden grows local food and community


Would you like to grow some of your own food this summer, right here in Placitas? Would you like some fresh squash and tomatoes and peppers and beans this fall? Would you enjoy having others share the work and fun? Are you interested in learning more about vegetable gardening in New Mexico’s high desert? Are you yearning to reconnect with Mother Earth? If so, the Jubilee Community Garden is the place for you.

Sponsored by the Earth Care Fellowship and Grounds Committee of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, and located in the village of Placitas on Highway 165 directly across from the Church, the quarter-acre Jubilee Garden welcomes everyone interested in working together to grow healthy vegetables for their family and our community. This year we hope to cooperatively harvest a thousand pounds or more of various fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Right now, we are organically enhancing the soil with charcoal ash and other homeopathic supplements. As the weeks go by, we will be experimenting with old and new practices of weed control, irrigating carefully via the acequia system to conserve precious water, and all the while working cooperatively with our neighbors to make the labor fun and productive.

The slogan of César Chávez and the farm labors, “Si, Se Puede” (“Yes, We Can”) might be appropriate for us this year as food and fuel prices rise and millions more innocent people face unnecessary hunger around the world, as well as right here close to home. During World War II, millions of Americans planted small “Victory Gardens” at home and made important contributions to our country. We can and do grow victory gardens even here in the dry mountains of New Mexico. Just a few square feet outside your door, the water from your roof or sink or shower, composted kitchen scraps, some seeds or plants, and the interest and care of a human being can yield hundreds of pounds of food. This is the spirit of the Jubilee Garden. Please join us in this adventure in good stewardship of the land.

For more information or to get involved with the Jubilee Community Garden, contact Dan Gips, Garden Coordinator (by phone at 867-4801 or email or Max Ellingson (771-9328), chair of the Grounds Committee at Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. Monday is our day for watering via the acequia. Saturday is usually a work day in the garden. But your participation is welcome whenever you have time

Placitas Library plan

Public examines new Placitas library plan offered by architects.

Public takes first look at new Placitas library design concept


On Saturday, April 19, SMPC Architects provided the community with our first look at a possible design concept for the new Placitas Community Library. About fifty Placiteños gathered in the Placitas Elementary School Gym to discuss rough floor plans, elevations, and topographic models of the site and building. Actually having something to look at made the new library more real in everyone’s minds and generated quite a lot of enthusiasm. The reaction to the two phased concept was quite favorable with most questions and concerns centered on the potential uses of the multipurpose room and the children’s area. Other concerns included softening the edges of the building to blend with the land and Placitas style, energy efficiency, solar gain and water harvesting. The architects took careful notes and all suggestions will be considered for inclusion in the more detailed Schematic Design. The Schematic will be completed in early June and presented for feedback from the Library Board and Building Committees. After that the long process of construction drawings will begin. Construction should begin before the end of 2008.

As many know, this site was chosen by Sandoval County because it was centrally located, affordable, and near another community facility. Because Sandoval County owns the land and is willing to act as the Library’s fiscal agent, PCL, a non- profit, is able to make use of the State and Federal funds allocated for this project. This site gives us beautiful views of the Sandias, Cabezon and Mount Taylor, all of which are being incorporated into the design. This will increase the number of indoor and outdoor spaces the community will have to enjoy while attending functions or using library resources.

On May 10 and 11, we will have our Mother’s Day Book and Plant Sale, (plant sale on Saturday only). There will be hundreds of titles; fiction, non-fiction, chiildren’s, science, old and rare, priced 25 cents and up. On Sunday, you can fill a grocery bag for one low price. Choose from xeric and rabbit-proof perennials, heirloom vegetables and ‘pots of color’ to brighten your patio. All proceeds benefit the PCL.

May Library Events and hours:

May 10-11: 9-4— Book and Plant Sale
May 1: 10:00 am, Thursday--Preschool Story Time
May 21: 3:00 pm, Wednesday— Bilingual Story time for ages 2-10.
May 31: 10-2— El día de los niños/ El día de los libros
June 5: 9 am, Thursday—Summer Reading Program, each Thursday until August
Library Book Group meets at 4:00 p.m. the first Monday of the month.
May title: Raising Ourselves by Velma Wallis
June title: Sixteen Pleasures, by Robert Hellenga
Call to verify date and location, 867-3355.

Library Hours: Tuesday 10-7 Wednesday, Saturday 10-4, Thursday 10-1.

Visit us at 1 Tierra Madre or call 867-3355, website:

Boss Saloon

The Boss Saloon gambling and concert hall was at 115-1/2 Railroad Avenue. The St. Louis Restaurant was to the left of it. The railroad workers and cowboys brought cash to Albuquerque. Gambling and saloons were open twenty-four hours a day.

UNM war protester

University of New Mexico student protests the war in Vietnam in 1972.

History of Albuquerque told through historic photos

From its founding in 1706 as a Spanish outpost to its place along Route 66, Albuquerque has been an integral part of the fabric of United States history. The story of the “Duke City” reflects both a diverse and progressive spirit, and a unique culture that is the foundation of the city’s present-day prosperity.

With fact-filled photo captions and chapter introductions by author Sandra Fye, Historic Photos of Albuquerque rediscovers the fascinating past of the largest city in New Mexico through nearly two hundred rare photographs culled from the University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research and the Albuquerque Museum, and showcased with exceptional clarity and beauty.

In scenes of events from parades to politics, celebrations to sporting events, “Old Town” to “New Town,” and much more, Albuquerque shines through the decades in glorious black-and-white photography, displayed in a large format.

“I feel the pictures and information in the book will pique interest in different aspects of Albuquerque history,” Fye says. “Photos tend to spark everyone’s imagination and make them curious about the people and places in them.”

Historic Photos of Albuquerque is part of Turner Publishing’s Historic Photos series. These books, highlighting the history of the great cities across America, have been acclaimed as a staple in the collection of anyone who loves history.

For further information, visit or call (615) 255-2665. (Refer to ISBN 13: 978-1-59625-376-0).

Winter runoff welcomed, but could pose problems

On April 12, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici said he has asked federal agencies that manage Rio Grande water resources to carefully monitor the levee system on the river as it experiences its strongest winter runoff in years.

Domenici said he welcomed the snowpack that now allows for a healthy flow in the river, but said the use of this water must be balanced with the need to properly and safely manage the flows in the Rio Grande.

Last week, Domenici asked General Robert L. Van Antwerp, chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, for an engineering opinion regarding the levees on the Rio Grande. Owned by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, the levees have reached the end of their economic life and need additional work.

Domenici has raised concerns about the President’s FY 2009 budget for the Corps, which eliminates funding for Albuquerque levee evaluations and for Rio Grande bosque restoration, as well as construction funding for eight projects, including the middle Rio Grande flood control, northern New Mexico acequias, the Central New Mexico Infrastructure Program (Bernalillo, Valencia, and Sandoval counties), and tribal assistance.

Sandoval County Historical Society hosts May events

New Mexico famed architect John Gaw Meem designed the Coronado State Monument as part of the New Deal. Meem is regarded as one of the most important and influential architects to have worked in New Mexico. On Sunday, May 18 at 2:00 p.m., Meem expert and architect Luis “G.L.” Castillo will discuss this famous architect’s role in the construction of this state monument and other buildings constructed during this era.

Also speaking that day will be author Richard Melzer, who wrote Coming of Age in the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps Experience in New Mexico, 1933 - 1942.

Both talks will last about forty-five minutes and the audience will be invited to tour the monument after the talks. Refreshments will be served.

On view at the monument will be a small exhibition from the Painted Kiva #3 with its frescos by Zia Pueblo artist Ma Pe Wi (1902 - 1973), whose works are in museums from Dartmouth to Tucson. The reconstruction of Kiva #3 and commissioning of Ma Pe Wi’s murals for it were paid for in part through WPA artist projects.

The lectures and exhibit are sponsored by the Friends of Coronado State Monument, Sandoval County Historical Society, and Coronado State Monument. The event takes place at the Sandoval County Historical Society Building on Edmund Road, off US Highway 550 (adjacent to Coronado State Monument). For more information, call Scott Smith, Monument Manager, at (505) 867-5351 or

When and how the acequias of Las Placitas were constructed


The original village of Placitas, referred to in history books as the old village of San Jose de Las Huertas (St. Joseph of the Gardens), was one mile north of Las Placitas Presbyterian Church. The original twenty-one families led a very hard life and depended on their crops and livestock to live. Water was their lifeblood. The water came from a spring called El Ojo de La Rosa Castilla (Spring of the Spanish Rose). They constructed an acequia system that they used for everything, including bathing, drinking, and cooking. They also used this precious water for irrigation and to make the adobes for constructing their homes, which usually consisted of two rooms.

With the Indian Revolt in 1680, these twenty-one families were asked to vacate their homes and stay with relatives in Bernalillo or Algodones so they could seek safety from all the Indian raids and killing. The settlers complied, but only with deep regret and with a fierce determination to return as soon as conditions allowed. A dozen or so years passed before they started moving back to San Jose. They continued living there for many years.

In 1765, the families petitioned the King of Spain for a land grant, which was customary among the Spanish at that time. The actual granting of the land took place on January 13, 1768. With a small ceremony, the residents took quiet possession of San Antonio de Las Huertas Land Grant.

The land grant extended from the red hills (known as the S turns) to a high point in the Sandias, then to a watering hole known as Uña de Gato (Nail of the Cat, a thorny plant) near the boundaries of El Tejon (The Badger, now known as Diamond Tail) north and including what is now known as Indian Flats and back down into Ranchos de Placitas and La Mesa. Placiteños planted crops way into El Cañón and as far up as what is known today as the Las Huertas Picnic Grounds.

There were—and still are—nine springs on the ridge east of the village, so many of these families decided to build their homes here. The ridge was called La Cuchilla (Blade) de Lupe. These nine springs are still owned by The San Antonio de Las Huertas Land Grant and provide water for today’s village population. Placiteños built four earthen reservoirs called El Tanque del Oso (Bear), El Tanque de la Ciruela (Plum), El Tanquecito and El Tanque del Cañón. El Tanque del Cañón’s water came from the mountain creek.

The acequias (irrigation ditches) in the village were excavated around 1840. Altogether, they measured about six miles. The acequias in the village measured about three miles. Every spring, before crops were planted, all the men in Placitas would clean all the springs and clear the acequias of old growth and debris. The cleaning process would take two weekends of hard labor. When the job was completed, the men would carry the mayordomo (ditch rider) on their shoulders and take him back up the hill to where they had started cleaning. Everyone in town would join them and there they would thank God for the water and they would bless it. It is said that they would also pour grape wine into the ditch from the wine made the year before.

After the blessing, there would be a big celebration with food that the women had prepared for the festivities. The festivities continued with a dance that lasted long into the night at the town dance hall, near San Antonio Catholic Church in the village.

Today we continue to enjoy the fruits of our forefather’s labor. Placiteños have been around for 250 years and more. Of course today, our drinking water comes to us in pipes and is treated according to the requirements of the State of New Mexico, but we use the acequias for irrigation. This village is unusual, as it is one of few villages that still have earthen ditches to water their crops and trees. It is also unique that the water comes from springs instead of from a well. We will continue to pray that this precious water continues to give us life for another 250 years.








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