pixel_pale.gif (61 bytes) Vaqueros
Curing Practices
Conservation and Recreation in San Juan /Rio Grande National Forest




Portrait of Charles
Acequia, the Spanish word for "irrigation canal," is derived from the Arabic as-saquiya (water carrier). Secondary and lateral ditches are called sangrías, a metaphorical term that expresses the same wisdom as the Spanish saying: "El agua es la sangre de la tierra," "Water is the blood of the land." Another saying: "El agua es vida," "Water is life."
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Science, Technology & Invention in The Rio Grande:
The traditional acequias and the water they carry symbolize the spirit of a community. One of the rites of spring along the upper Río Grande is the annual cleaning of the acequias from the acequia madre, or mother channel, down to each field. Everyone is obligated to participate in the effort. At the Northern Tiwa Indian pueblo of Picurís, special songs are sung to help keep the work rhythms of cleaning the ditch. Instead of beats on a drum, the cadence comes from the percussion of shovels hitting the ground. The flowing of the first water of the spring in the ditch is an occasion marked with blessings, excitement, and anticipation. When the compuertas, or floodgates, are opened near Indian pueblos, the waters are blessed with sacred cornmeal. In Hispano communities, the priest blesses the water and the processions that honor the patron saint of agriculture, San Isidro Labrador.

- Enrique Lamadrid
University of New Mexico

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Agricultural Cycles and the Acequias

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