Skip to main content

Tomas Atencio Papers and Academia de la Nueva Raza / Rio Grande Institute Records

Identifier: MSS-827-BC

Scope and Content

The collection is divided into seven series consisting of writings, research and teaching materials, biographical information, and ethnographic audio recordings.

La Academia de la Nueva Raza, (1966-1988) consists of documents, correspondence, photographs, articles and research files of La Academia de la Nueva Raza. "Administrative Documents" consists of developmental history reports, bylaws, proposals, and correspondence between La Academia and various local, state, and federal organizations. "Photographs" include hundreds of images of La Academia events in cities across Texas and New Mexico. Photographs document meetings, plays, and social events sponsored by Academia associates. "Writings" by Academia members and allies consists of poetry, short stories, essays, and speeches related to the mission and cause of La Academia. Authors include Esteban Arellano, Armando Rendon, Reíes López Tijerina, E.A. Tony Mares, Padre Luis Jaramillo, and Tomás Atencio. Publications by La Academia included in this subseries are El Cuaderno and La Madrugada

Rio Grande Institute, (1982-1993) contains artist files, slides and photographs, and administrative information on the RGI. "Administrative Documents" contains bylaws, funding proposals, organizational history, and correspondence between RGI and the New Mexico Arts Division. The "Art" subseries include images and exhibition information for artists Cesar Martinez, Alberto Barros, and Miguel Gandert as well as art slides and sketches by unidentified artists.

Resources, (1966-1986), includes publications, research documents, and newsletters and newspapers in the areas of art, Chicano issues, education, land and migrant issues, Latin America, and theology. The "Art" subseries consist of artist profiles and exhibition flyers as well as Chicana/o art essays, editorials, and documents from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas. "Chicano Issues" contains articles, newsletters, and unpublished material about Chicana/o civil rights initiatives such as the Brown Berets, Teatro Chicano, The Southwest Council of La Raza, and The Council for Community Action. "Education" consists of writings about the severe inequity in predominately Mexican American schools and the need for developing new models for teaching Chicana/o youth. "Land Issues" and "Migrant Issues" both contain articles and newsletters about the labor and migrant issues experienced by people of the Southwest. "Latin America" contains essays and articles about social and civil rights issues in Cuba, Argentina, and Chile. "Theology" consists of articles, research documents, and essays on the impact of religion and spirituality in the goals of social justice and liberation

Ethnographic Field Recordings I (1971-1994) documents the oral history projects of La Academia and the RGI. Interviews are with community members, Academia members, and native Nuevo Mexicanos. Most of the interviews were conducted by Tomás Atencio, Consuelo Pacheco, and Alejandro López. Several interviews were conducted by students at New Mexico Highlands University. Also included are recordings of particular meetings, seminars, workshops, and events.

Ethnographic Field Recordings II (1970-1992) This series was added to the collection in 2016. Processed by Claudia Avila-Mitchell, UNM Center for Regional Studies Graduate Fellow. This series contains Academia and RGI interview recordings (known to have originated from La Academia) from Enrique Lamadrid and Alejandro Lopez.

Sociology of New Mexico (1998-1999) This series was added to the collection in August 2011. Included is the reader for Tomas Atencio's course, Sociology of New Mexico and video recordings of KNME programs that were used as teaching tools.

Tomas Atencio Files, (1923-2013) This series was added to collection in February of 2014, at which time the title of the collection was expanded to reflect the addition. The series includes audio interviews and research for various projects that Atencio was personally involved with or facilitated, college papers, correspondence, draft manuscripts and speeches, administrative documents, and biographical information.


  • 1923-2013
  • Majority of material found in 1965-1999


Language of Materials

English Spanish

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Certain documents are sealed until 2030. These documents are located in the accession folder.

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

Founded in Northern New Mexico in November 1969, La Academia de Aztlán grew out of conversations between various scholars, community members and activists. Its original title projected to the world the concept of an educational process that is dialogical. Aztlán reflected the spirit of nationalism among Indo-Hispanos. With the involvement of individuals whose orientation reflected a non-political, non-nationalistic view, the name was changed to La Academia de la Nueva Raza—translated to The Academy of the New Humanity. While centrally located in Dixon, New Mexico, La Academia had an office in San Antonio, Texas and membership and special projects in Brawley, California, El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Phoenix, Arizona. A native New Mexican, Tomás C. Atencio received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of New Mexico in 1985. Dr. Atencio co-founded La Academia de la Nueva Raza in Dixon, New Mexico with fellow sociologist Facundo B. Valdez.

La Academia de la Nueva Raza evolved in response to various needs in the Chicana/o community. There was and is a tremendous need for an educational process that does not solely mirror the needs and demands of the dominant political, economic and social structures, but that reflects the human concerns of an oppressed people. La Academia has developed its own educational model based on the concept that learning is derived from life and historical experiences—from El Oro del Barrio—and from profound analysis of personal history and of forces that impinge on people's lives. Moreover, La Academia's educational method serves as a vehicle to build a body of knowledge from such analysis, thus providing oppressed people alternatives to learning, acting, and styles of living. La Academia aimed at creating awareness, conscientiousness, a thirst for justice, and a commitment to work towards a free society. In short, La Academia sought to create a learning society. The intermediate goal was to afford each person the opportunity to be a teacher as well as a learner. By doing so humankind may move on to La Nueva Raza—La Academia's ultimate commitment.

In 1978 La Academia dissolved and in 1982 the Rio Grande Institute (RGI) was created. RGI was divided into three programs: Arts, Humanities, and Health and Wholeness. The new program focused on issues of Indo-Hispano Legacies after-Columbus, a Praxis Learning and Action Research Project, and the Resolana Electronica, an electronic bulletin board connecting community projects associated with the Praxis Learning and Action Research initiatives. Consuelo Pacheco, cofounder and organizer, was instrumental in the creation and success of the RGI.


18 boxes (13.5 cu. ft.)


The collection contains administrative documents, correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, articles and research files of La Academia de la Nueva Raza, and the Rio Grande Institute, organizations dedicated to political, social, and cultural change. It also contains the files of Tomas Atencio related to his personal research and work on his many projects.


Collection is arranged in seven series:
  1. La Academia de la Nueva Raza, 1965-1988 (subseries: Administrative Documents, Photographs, and Writings (by Academia members)
  2. Rio Grande Institute (RGI), 1982-1993 (subseries: Administrative Documents, Art)
  3. Resources, 1966-1986 (subseries: Art, Chicano Issues, Education, Land Issues, Latin America, Migrant Issues, and Theology)
  4. Ethnographic Field Recordings I, 1971-1994 (subseries: Transcripts, Audio recordings)
  5. Ethnographic Field Recordings II, 1970-1992 (subseries: Audio recordings)
  6. Sociology of New Mexico, 1998-1999
  7. Tomas Atencio Files, 1923-2013 (subseries: Biographical, Chicano Art, Crypto Jews, Hispano Protestants, La Academia, Latin America / Latinos, Learning Society, Northern New Mexico, Old Town Albuquerque, Padre Martinez, Phenomenology, Religion and Theology, Resolana, Rio Grande Institute, Sawmill District Old Town Albuquerque, Social Change, Social Welfare, Traditional Knowledge)

Related Materials

Alejandro López Papers and Ethnographic Interviews, 1971-2021 (MSS-943-BC) Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections, University of New Mexico Libraries.

Separated Material

General publications have been transferred to the University Libraries for cataloguing. Master cds and original reels stored on B3. .WAV files for CDs 272-322 are stored on library file server.

Processing Information

Audio and video were reformatted from reels, cassettes, vhs, and super 8 to cd and DVd in 2009, 2011 and 2014.
Finding Aid of the Tomas Atencio Papers and Academia de la Nueva Raza / Rio Grande Institute Records, 1923-2013
Eric Castillo
© 2009, ©2011, ©2012, ©2014, ©2015, ©2016
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