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Aamodt Water Case Collection

Identifier: AC 482

Scope and Content

The collection contains legal and organizational documentation concerning the water rights case. The vertical file at the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library contains extensive newspaper clippings on the case.


  • 1966-1993

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of print materials allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Historical Information

The original Aamodt case was filed by the New Mexico State Engineer in 1966 with more than 2,500 defendants. Claimants in the case (Nambe, Pojoaque, Tesuque, and San Ildefonso Pueblos as well as non-Pueblo water users) fought over the use of waters of the Nambe-Pojoaque-Tesuque stream system in north central New Mexico. In 1966, the New Mexico State Engineer’s Office filed a lawsuit naming the U. S. government, four Indian pueblos and approximately 2,307 other water users in an effort to define the rights tojthe water. Between 1974-1976, the pueblos appeared on their own behalf and the U. S. Court of Appeals reversed a lower court order that pueblo rights are limited to historical beneficial use under the laws of Spain, Mexico and the U.S.

In 1978, the pueblos asserted that they have water rights “prior and paramount” to those of all others. Between 1979 and 1982, the New Mexico State Engineer determined priority dates on a ditch-wide basis for approximately 1,200 non-Indian water users. About 700 defendants objected to the dates. In 1983, the court declared a moratorium on appropriations from domestic wells, restricting new appropriations to indoor water use only. In 1984, the adjudication of domestic wells was limited to those with water rights beginning on or before January 13, 1983. In 1985, the court ruled that pueblos are entitled to first right to enough irrigation water for their needs. The court also defines pueblo’s priority rights to irrigation water for acreage irrigated between 1846 and 1924. In 1986, legal briefs on priority dates for non-Indian water right holders were requested. In 1987, the courts held that the four pueblos involved historically irrigated 841.5 acres of tribal lands, excluding reservation and replacement lands scheduled to be decided by the courts in October. The pueblos had claimed rights to more than 12,000 acres. In 1993, the court rules Nambe and San Ildefonso pueblos may have aboriginal water rights on reservation lands based on actual, historic use. First priority applied to what was irrigated between 1846 and 1924. For the rest of the reservation, the priority dates to the creation of the pueblo in 1902


.5 Linear Feet

Aamodt Water Case Collection 1966-1993
Edited Full Draft
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the Fray Angélico Chávez History Library Repository

Fray Angélico Chávez History Library
New Mexico History Museum
113 Lincoln Ave
Sante Fe NM 87501 USA
(505) 476-5090