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Alfonso Sanchez papers

Identifier: MSS-803-BC

Scope and Content

The first part of the Alfonso Sanchez papers consists of biographical information about Alfonso Sanchez, including his own life narratives, news clippings, photographs, and various documents and certificates. The second half of the collection concerns the Tierra Amarilla Grant in Rio Arriba County, N.M. as well as Reies Lopez Tijerina, and the Alianza Federal de las Mercedes. These legal/court documents, news clippings, photographs, and large posters and maps chronicle the land grant struggle in Rio Arriba County.

The collection is arranged in three series:

Alfonso Sanchez Life Narrative includes Sanchez's written recollections, prepared in anticipation of writing his life story. The narrative is episodic and photographs and news clippings are attached to many entries. Audio of three oral interviews with Sanchez, conducted by Misty Ring in 2007 is also included in this series.

Tierra Amarilla/Land Grant/Court Documents is comprised largely of legal and court documents regarding the Tierra Amarilla land grant. This series includes documentation of Alfonso Sanchez's tenure as an attorney for the Tierra Amarilla Mutual Domestic Water Consumer Association, as well as Sanchez's research on the land grant, case notes, and correspondence.

Reies Lopez Tijerina series consists of collected documents on Alianza Federal de las Mercedes leader, Reies Lopez Tijerina, including legal documents originating during the Rio Arriba County Courthouse investigation. A number of documents collected by Sanchez pre-date the Tierra Amarilla land grant struggle and detail Reies Lopez Tijerina's family history and early adulthood. In addition, this series contains news clippings documenting Tijerina's capture, trial, and life after the 1960s.


  • 1856-2004
  • Majority of material found within 1955-1970


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biography / History

Alfonso Sanchez. Box 1, folder 1.

Alfonso Sanchez was born on February 23, 1928 in Belen, New Mexico. He was one of ten children. His mother died in 1937 and his father remarried soon afterwards. Sanchez joined the military the day after he graduated from high school, serving as a volunteer for two years. With the help of the GI Bill, Sanchez began college and joined the enlisted reserves. He was activated and served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War for another two years. Upon his return from the war, Sanchez completed his law degree at the University of New Mexico (1957). He then became the Assistant District Attorney in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He resigned after several years in this position and began private practice. On May 12, 1962, Sanchez married his wife, Cecilia. In November of the same year, he was elected as New Mexico State Representative. In 1963, Governor Jack Campbell appointed Sanchez District Attorney of the First Judicial District consisting of Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos Counties. Sanchez served as the District Attorney in Tierra Amarilla during the time of La Alianza Federal de las Mercedes' raid of the Rio Arriba County courthouse. Sanchez knew many members of La Alianza and its leader, Reies Lopez Tijerina prior to the raid which occurred after Sanchez prohibited a scheduled meeting of La Alianza and several group members were arrested. In response, La Alianza issued an arrest warrant for Sanchez and intended to fulfill their citizen's arrest against Sanchez at the Rio Arriba Courthouse when the raid occurred. Sanchez prosecuted members of La Alianza. He collected legal documents and research detailing the Tierra Amarilla land struggle.

Beginning in law school, when he became friends with Vicente Ximenes and Hector P. Garcia, Sanchez became active with the GI Forum and numerous other community organizations. He helped to organize De Vargas Savings and Loan Association and Charter Bank of Santa Fe as a response to what he felt were discriminatory loan practices in local banks. He also helped to organize the SER Jobs for Progress project, which helps train young Chicanos and matches them with employers on a national level. In the early 1960s, Sanchez implemented an in-school program to try to motivate children to grow up with respect for the law. Sanchez has continued to practice law privately since the Rio Arriba Courthouse raid. In 2007, he received an award from the University of New Mexico, marking his 50 years of practicing law.

As of April 2008, Sanchez continues to be involved in his community and local church. He also enjoys working on a Civil War memorial on his property near Glorieta, New Mexico. Alfonso and Cecilia Sanchez reside in Santa Fe, they have three daughters, a son, and several grandchildren.

Source: Interviews with Misty Ring, 2007


1 box (1 cu. ft.), plus 1 oversize folder


Alfonso Sanchez was the District Attorney for Rio Arriba County during the land struggle of Reies Lopez Tijerina and the Alianza Federal de las Mercedes. The collection consists of biographical materials pertaining to Alfonso Sanchez, as well as materials pertaining to the Tierra Amarillo land grant and Reies Lopez Tijerina.


3 series: Alfonso Sanchez Life Narrative; Tierra Amarilla/Land Grant/Court Documents; Reies Lopez Tijerina

Related Material

Reies Tijerina papers. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. Peter Nabokov papers. Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico. David Correia Research papers.Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico.

Separated Material

Original reel to reels stored in B3.
Finding Aid of the Alfonso Sanchez papers, 1856-2004
A. Rodriguez
© 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

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

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131