For 40 years, Jemez Pueblo in New Mexico has been working to access water the tribe says it’s owed by the federal government.
KUNR’s Kaleb Roedel visited the tribe to learn more about those efforts.
It’s a gray and snowy day in late winter on the Jemez Pueblo reservation in north-central New Mexico.
Peter Madalena is standing on the banks of the Jemez River, a tributary of the Rio Grande.
Madalena says the river’s higher than it has been in recent winters thanks to more days like this one – filled with snow.
“It’s a blessing that we’re getting it because you’re gonna have more water, and hopefully more people plant.”
Madalena is the Pueblo’s 1st Lieutenant Governor.
He’s also a lifelong farmer – like many here at Jemez.
The tribe doesn’t own any casinos or large energy sources.
They’re largely supported by farming, with corn and chilies being their primary crops.
That means they rely heavily on this river, which they divert for agriculture.
“The crop from the seed up, as they say, we grow together. So that’s what we’re trying to protect here, the water.”
But that hasn’t always been easy.
Back in 1938, New Mexico, Colorado and Texas signed a compact that divided the Rio Grande Basin waters among the states.
But Native tribes and pueblos didn’t have a seat at the table.
That forced them to negotiate settlements or file lawsuits – even though their rights predate all other water users.
Paul S. Chinana is a five-term Jemez Pueblo governor and member of the tribal water team.
He’s been involved with negotiations since they started back in 1983.
“We’ve been having a lot of water shortages for as long as I can remember. And there were a lot of people that were moving in upstream.”
As more water-users – mainly, homes and businesses – are built to the north, less of it flows down to Jemez.
And there’s another challenge impacting the amount of available water.
“Drought. It’s just hard to get everything running normal like it’s supposed to run when there’s no water.”
This story was supported by The Water Desk, an initiative from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism.
The city of San Antonio, TX recently named Chicano poet Nephtali De Leon as the city’s poet laureate.
The bilingual bicultural artist says he’ll not only represent his Mexican-American culture in the post, but also his Indigenous roots.
Maria Martin reports.
The son of migrant workers, 78-year-old Nephtali De Leon is known for his children’s stories, his visual art, and most of all, for his code-switching poetry.
“While we bless all with holy water of our San Antonio, of ancient our Yanawana Springs, where you can even dance a Westside Polka… with Chiquita Banana.”
At his investiture as San Antonio’s poet laureate, De Leon told National Native News he and all Chicanos from the Southwest are rooted in the ancient Indigenous Mexica culture.
“We still carry the same blood as our ancestors.”
Poet Nephtali De Leon will serve as San Antonio’s poet laureate for the next three years, promoting the art of poetry while celebrating the diverse culture and history of this Texas city.
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