Chilili Land Grant Struggle, 1976 (pamphlet)

The following is a pamphlet about the land struggle in Chilili, New Mexico in 1976.

(Thanks to the one in the Chicano Movement group in Facebook for scanning this in the first place. )

Chilili Land Struggle

Chilili Land Struggle 2

The pamphlet was put out by La Federación Land Committee, affiliated with La Alianza group in New Mexico, known for Reies Lopez Tijerina. By that time La Alianza Federal de las Mercedes and Tijerina were involved in a change in politics that had much internal struggle. With that, I do not have any more information about the group behind the pamphlet.

Some research online about this turns up this following polemic from the August 29th Movement. They were a Marxist-Leninist group that came out of the Chicano Movement, and upheld a line on the Chicano Nation in their book Fan The Flames: A Revolutionary Position on the Chicano National Question. They were around during the New Communist Movement, a series of party building efforts in the United States in the aftermath of the New Left in the 1970s. These groups were known mostly for sectarian excesses, and ATM was no different, as shown here from this passage of the writing, titled: “Editorial: Practice Marxism Not Revisionism -ATM Cadre Reject Splitters.

What did the revisionist line of the splitters lead to in practice? Their narrow nationalist line led them to glorify the role of the peasantry, ignoring the leading role of the proletariat and Marxist-Leninists. In the Chilili land struggle, for example, they never distributed the REVOLUTIONARY CAUSE or any other Marxist-Leninist literature; the role of the proletariat was reduced to support resolutions by a few unions. They never once even mentioned the worldwide danger of Soviet Social Imperialism. Flowing naturally from their line, the splitters completely failed to bring class consciousness to the people of Chilili. After many months of supposed “Communist” work by ATM, the villagers of Chilili told us they were only fighting for their land grand and did not understand the question of a Chicano Nation and Communism.

Yep, the “worldwide danger of Soviet Social Imperialism” was of utmost importance to organize around the land grant struggle. It goes further in finding fault with the cadre attempting to organize in this area for further deviations, calling them “splitters.”  The editorial writers even bemoan the splitters for making them falsely report a mass turnout for a court solidarity when there were few who showed up, blaming the splitters for not organizing the masses. Go ahead and read the rest if you are a fan of archaic polemical style of the New Communist Movement. It didn’t help for me that I just watched again “Monty Python Life of Brian.” Overall, this led to a split in ATM in June 1977.

The ATM later merged with other groups, most of them non-white led,  to form the League of Revolutionary Struggle in 1978. The title of the second issue of their journal “Forward” with a date of August 1979 was devoted to the struggle for Chicano liberation, at least their view of it. Here is a picture from this issue that day. Note the banner in the background says “Self-Determination for the Chicano Nation.”


I am currently doing research on the August 29th Movement, and its impact on the Chicano liberation struggle. I will post more as I get it.

The Chilili land grant was known because it maintained most of its land from before it was under Mexican sovereignty. It is still governed by a board of trustees. As seen in the pamphlet above, the struggle for the land grants is ongoing.

Here is a report about a legal struggle that started in the 1980’s.

In Chilili, another incident that brought up the sovereignty of the land grant was when the trustee president of the land grant rented out land to a movie production company but claimed by another person who is Anglo.

What this shows is that the militant component of the Chicano Movement was at its peak in the 1970’s, when many tendencies embraced armed struggle. For Chicanos, this time period saw many land grant battles. One of these was at the Tierra Amarilla grant in the 1980’s. Many more. They show that the struggle for Chicano liberation was recognized as one about land.

This entry was posted in Aztlan, Chicano Movement, National Liberation, National Question, New Mexico. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Chilili Land Grant Struggle, 1976 (pamphlet)

  1. abran ortiz says:

    i have old clippings from the 70,s if you are interested .

    • Damian Cano says:

      I am interested in the history of Chilili, in part because my grandmother and my mother were born there. I would appreciate any information you have. I have seen references to Chilili as a Tewa settlement, and this was confirmed by my grandmother Rebecca Carter. Thank you,

      Damian I. Cano

  2. Adrian joe Ayala says:

    My grandfather Wilfredo Joe Torrez aka RED
    IS a land grant owner i miss those childhood trips out to pick pinions. Back when all the family was around together. Those were the days. I am plannong on going back to visit. O i will always remeber the route up those dirt roads.

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