Photo by Thomas Hamm
Mayordomo Noah Trujillo (center, bottom of shaft) repairing the head gate at San Gregorio reservoir, which had broken off deep inside the dam. The shaft descends about 15 feet. The gate was stuck partially open due to debris. Like a bathtub with its plug pulled, the lake had drained to the level of the gate, allowing Trujillo to get to it. This is an example of one of the challenges acequias face with aging infrastructure. The reservoir is at an elevation of 9,300 feet. It is about a mile within the San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area, where access is limited to hiking or horseback.
Photo by Miguel Santistevan
Acequia Madre del Sur del Río de Don Fernando de Taos after sunrise, where it crosses Witt Road and is divided by one of the main compuertas, the Vigil head gate. The water was moved from the Randall Community Ditch just moments before, so this is the first water making its way to a parciante’s field. It will flow through this channel for 12 hours before being switched back. This practice represents a water-sharing agreement between acequias that has been in place for many generations.
Photo by Marty Vigil
Two-year-old Ethan Vigil, youngest parciante (water rights holder) on the San José de la Ciénega acequia, helps his grandparents irrigate with a shovel made by their mayordomo, León Tafoya. He learned to use the shovel by watching his family. Ethan likes to play in the acequia. He was working/playing hard until he fell in the water.
Photo of Acequia de la Plaza & Acequia de las Canovas by 17-year-old Maya Peña (Santa Clara Pueblo)
“Braids of Our Mothers” by 13-year-old Kateri Peña (Santa Clara Pueblo)
By Maya Peña
Follow your gaze
Across lighting split skies creating nitric oxide,
Percolation reaching roots that in turn will help life reach for light.
Rows of water obey shovel’s petitions,
Performing a symbiotic cycle of water and farmer.
Commissioning heirloom seeds to feed another generation,
Memories of famine and starvation fading with every basket of corn.
Pride is palpable as relatives present gifts of harvest,
In that moment The Earth is Our Earth,
Because life is a consequence of collaboration,
And land is our most faithful partner.