Oral history interviews of Sharon Stewart's El Cerrito y la Acequia Madre Oral History Project
Scope and Content
The collection consists of oral interviews conducted with Macario Torrez (2001), Margie and Abran Quintana (2003), Jack and Heidi Lanstra (1993, 1998), and Helen and Florencio Quintana (2001). There is an outline of the interview with Helen and Florencio Quintana, all other interviews are transcribed. Sharon Stewart was the interviewer. She is joined in one interview (Jack and Heidi Lanstra) by Cindy Freedman. Interviews shed light on the history and culture of El Cerrito, N.M., with attention to water, agriculture and the acequia. The interview with Margie and Abran Quintana discusses historic preservation and church history in El Cerrito.
Language of Materials
Biography / History
As founding Vice President of the Houston Center for Photography, Stewart served on its Board of Directors, Programming and Education Committees while writing for its quarterly publication. She is a member of the "Water in the West Project and Archive," a consortium of eleven photographers whose continuing self-directed surveys document the politics and history of water use in the American West.
Sharon Stewart lives in the mountain village of Chacón, NM, at the confluence of the Great Plains and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where she has extensively photographed the economic, social, familial, mythic, and religious influences that define the cultural landscape of northern New Mexico.
Project History: This project, begun in 1992, presents a village life portrait of El Cerrito, NM, animated by an interdependence on water from the community irrigation ditch, or acequia. No one in El Cerrito remembers being told of the acequia’s origins, lending to speculation that the waterway was created by Native Americans who first inhabited this Pecos River Valley. Others believe its existence can be ascribed, as some other 1,000 acequias in New Mexico, to the efforts of Franciscan priests, who when colonizing the region for Spain, were directed by the crown to establish two vital elements of village life—water and faith. Very likely a confluence of efforts set this hand dug, one-and-a-half-mile gravity flow channel that sustains the village.
Acequia also refers to an association of users that honors water as a community resource rather than a commodity. Parciantes (water-rights holders) have shared for generations in the responsibility of maintaining a waterway that feeds their families, orchards, gardens, fields, and livestock. While recharging watersheds, acequias also provide a rich riparian zone for wildlife, shade trees, and native plants, many of which are used in traditional medicines. In a self-governing system dating to the Moors, who established acequias in Spain during their seven century occupation, the mayordomo (caretaker) is selected by the parciantes to oversee the acequia’s maintenance throughout the year and especially, in an almost religious involvement, during the spring limpia (cleaning). In El Cerrito, the limpia is the one social gathering outside the rare wedding and more common funeral for which extended family and curious students of traditional village life return.
Source: Biography and project history supplied by Sharon Stewart.
1 box (.35 cu. ft. including 16 CDs and 4 folders of transcripts)
- Finding Aid of the Oral history interviews of Sharon Stewart's El Cerrito y la Acequia Madre Oral History Project, 1993-2003
- Edited Full Draft
- B. Silbergleit
- © 2009
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is in English
- Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.
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