Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo:
Definition and List of Community Land Grants in New Mexico
GAO-01-951: Published: Sep 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2001.
- Full Report:
Until the mid-nineteenth century, Spain made land grants to towns and individuals to promote development in the frontier lands that now constitute the American Southwest. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, the United States agreed to recognize ownership of property of every kind in the ceded areas. Many people, including grantee heirs, scholars, and legal experts, still claim that the United States did not protect the property of Mexican-Americans and their descendants, particularly the common lands of community grants. Land grant documents contain no direct reference to "community land grants," nor do Spanish and Mexican laws define or use this term. GAO did find, however, that some grants refer to lands set aside for general communal use or for specific purposes, including hunting, pasture, wood gathering, or watering. Scholars, the land grant literature, and popular terminology commonly use the phrase "community land grants" to denote land grants that set aside common lands for the use of the entire community. GAO adopted this broad definition in determining which Spanish and Mexican land grants can be identified as community land grants. GAO identified 154 community land grants out of the total of 295 land grants in New Mexico. Seventy-eight were grants in which the shared lands formed part of the grant according to the original grant documentation; 53 were grants that scholars, grantee heirs, or others believed to contain common lands; and 23 were grants extended to the indigenous Pueblo cultures in New Mexico.