The County Attorney

  • Jim Catron


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story: Catron County's politics heat up as its land goes bankrupt

Jim Catron is a fourth-generation New Mexican and a distant relative of Thomas Benton Catron, the land baron for whom Catron County is named. He lives in La Joya, N.M., and is county attorney for Catron, Socorro and Sierra counties. He has tracked the path of the Celtic people from Continental Europe to the mountains of Great Britain to the Southern United States and finally to New Mexico: "There is a culture in the American West," he says. "It lives and breathes and it is under assault in the name of environmental protection."

"The Gaels believe in local government; they've always believed in it. They've always elected their chieftains everywhere they lived. In battle, the Celt general was general because of prowess; the Roman general was general because of political power. He was old and pot-bellied; the Celt general was a hero!...

"Because they believed in local government, they resisted in Ireland and Scotland and Wales. They resisted the Saxons for 700 years or longer. Seven hundred years of warfare distorts a people; they became hard-working, hard-fighting, hard-drinking, hard-talking ...

"This is very, very much a cultural movement, this rural Western resistance to the federal empire. They very much view the central government the way their ancestors viewed the Englishmen. The Gaels shun their enemies; they still shun. To this day, when a forest ranger comes into one of these country cafes, everyone shuts up until he leaves. They don't speak Gaelic any more, but they're still clannish and their friends and family mean much more to them than property ...

"In the name of environmental conservation, we're attempting to destroy the last vestige of people who resist central government in the world. They resisted the Roman Empire, the British Empire and now they're attempting to buck the U.S.

"And we're winning. If those one-worlders and those federal imperialists really believe they've got us whipped, that the final resistance to centralized government is over, they're wrong. We don't use bullets and swords; now we use lawsuits and injunctions."

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