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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Letters

History through a wide-angle lens

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History is conveniently framed in your story about the conflict over Taos land grants ("Troubled Taos," HCN, 8/20/12). Nowhere is the King of Spain's right to grant the land in the first place ever questioned. One cannot argue there is a greater good in returning the land grants to Spanish grantees on the basis of beneficial use without opening the frame of history a bit wider: The indigenous peoples in this area already had a vibrant and sustainable system of beneficial use in place when the Spaniards invaded, bringing with them the concept of land "ownership."

To leave the local indigenous communities entirely out of the story of the struggle to return lands to so-called rightful owners or to proper beneficial use is both disrespectful and shortsighted. 

Kathleen Dexter Penasco,
New Mexico

HCN responds

HCN also believes that a tribal perspective would be valuable. Our writer, J.R. Logan, tried to get comment from the Taos Pueblo, but the tribe declined. It's our understanding that many New Mexico tribes have strong opinions on the land grant controversies, but don't go public with their concerns.

Ray Ring
HCN Senior Editor

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