American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This thesis reexamines the history of the formation of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD) during the first half of the twentieth century. Previous histories have either uncritically celebrated the MRGCD, or have been critical of its formation because of the way it negatively affected Mexicano/Hispano farming communities. This thesis extends the critical literature by situating the MRGCD as a formation of settler colonialism and attending to the ways it affected Pueblo Indian Nations. I argue that the MRGCD, ostensibly designed to "protect life and property" in the valley, was actually concerned with securing forms of life and property that were productive for capital accumulation and settler national life. In so doing I aim to emphasize the ways that settler colonialism structures development efforts in ways that negatively affect Indian/Native nations, as well as the ways it extends forms of anti-Indian racial devaluation to create and mark the difference between the dispossessed and possessed within the settler community itself.




Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, development, settler colonialism, biopolitics, debt, race

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Advisor

Goldstein, Alyosha

First Committee Member (Chair)

Brandzel, Amy

Second Committee Member

Correia, David