In 1848 the United States assumed sovereignty in New Mexico under the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and promised to respect, among other things, the property of the Indians. This began a land problem which has not been solved to this day.
In an effort to solve the Indian and other land problems, Congress established the Office of Surveyor-General for New Mexico. In 1858, upon the recommendation of the Surveyor-General, the Santa Clara Pueblo Grant was confirmed and on November 1, 1864 it was patented. However, the Santa Clara Indians did not receive title to the land which they considered traditionally to be theirs in the Cañada de Santa Clara. In 1891 the Court of Private Land Claims was created and soon afterwards litigation on the status of the Cañada de Santa Clara claim began. On September 29, 1894 the Cañada or Pueblo of Santa Clara Grant (also known as the "Shoestring Grant") was confirmed. Eight years of legal surveys centering on interpretation of the word "Cañada" followed. Finally on November 15, 1909 the patent to the Grant was confirmed. However, as early as July 29, 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive Order which enlarged the acreage of the Grant.
In the meantime people were settling on land within the original Santa Clara Pueblo Grant. This settlement by non-Indians was declared to be illegal by the Supreme Court in 1913 and the problem of land ownership in New Mexico magnified. In 1924 the Pueblo Lands Act was passed. This act created a board which was to determine who owned the lands which were claimed by both the Indians and non-Indians. This board, however, was not empowered to deal with the Santa Clara claim which alleged that boundaries of both the original grant and the Executive Order lands were short of the actual amount confirmed to the Indians under Spanish and Mexican law. Therefore, the Indians of Santa Clara Pueblo petitioned the Indian Claims Commission for redress. This case is now pending before the Commission.
Level of Degree
First Committee Member (Chair)
Donald Colgett Cutter
Second Committee Member
Richard Nathaniel Ellis
Third Committee Member
Baklini, Joanne. "The Land Claims of Santa Clara Pueblo." (1965). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hist_etds/210