Atrisco Land Grant Struggle, Constant Battles Over Land And Resources

The land grant struggles in New Mexico have been not only waged long ago, but still a source of conflict.  Case in point is the struggle over the Atrisco Land Grant, in the Albuquerque area on the city’s west side.

In 2006 there was an offer to sell the shares of the Atrisco Land Grant.  There were a total of 794,927 shares distributed among shareholders.  The land itself totals 55,000 acres on the West Side of Albuquerque.

The Alibi weekly newspaper of Albuquerque gave a good story of it back in 2005:  (

First, a little history of where it got where it was.  There has been a long history of land grant struggles in New Mexico, starting after the colonization by the United States.  Land guaranteed to the Mexicano people who opted to stay on their land and become subjects of the United States after the invasion of 1848 was supposedly guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican War.  But like other treaties the U.S. signed in the 19th century with other nations, it was not worth the paper it was written on.  Land was swindled out from them by the Anglos.  With oppression came resistance, lots of times in the armed sense.  Los Gorras Blancas, Reies Lopez Tijerina, even some armed struggles in the 80‘s.  The struggle over land continued, and realizing this the U.S. governments had to give legal recognition to some of the remaining land grants.  One is the Atrisco land grant.

But there is not a happy ending for those heirs of that grant.  Another method of colonization is cooptation, and they did this through making the land grant part of a corporate structure.  The Atrisco land grant was made into a corporation, named Westland.  The heirs became shareholders of this corporation.  As with other corporations, decisions are made by a board of directors.  With the corporate structure many feel they have lost their say in the operation of the land.

The decisions of the land use are also affected by the resources on the land.  Experts report lots of untapped oil deposits on the land.  An estimate states that there may be at least 500 million barrels of oil underneath the land, waiting to be tapped.  At an average but fluctuating price of around $100 a barrel that comes out to resources worth close to $50 billion.  Lots of money at stake.


Company Overview

Westland Development Co., Inc. engages in the development, leasing, and sale of real estate properties in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company also develops lot sales to homebuilders and conducts bulk land sales to other land developers. The company was formerly known as Town of Atrisco Corporation and it changed its name to Westland Development Co., Inc. in 1967. The company was founded in 1892 and is based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As of December 7, 2006, Westland Development Co., Inc. operates as a subsidiary of SunCal Companies.

401 Coors Boulevard SW

Albuquerque, NM 87121

United States

Founded in 1892

13 Employees

-SunCal, a company that builds “planned communities.”  Suburb builders.  (


-Brent Lesley, Vice President, Westland

From Businessweek:

Brent Lesley has been Vice President, Marketing of Westland Development Co. Inc. since April 26, 1996. Mr. Lesley was employed by Westland Development Co. Inc. since May 1986. Mr. Lesley’s responsibilities are centered on the sale of real property, from undeveloped land to developed lots. Mr. Lesley’s responsibilities also include overseeing the acquisition of property for Westland Development Co. Inc. income property portfolio and the procurement of project financing on both a construction and permanent basis. He has been a Director of Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC since December 6, 2008. Mr. Lesley holds a B.S. degree from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. degree from the University of New Mexico.


Atrisco Oil and Gas


Atrisco Oil & Gas LLC. provides oil and gas exploration services. The company was founded in 2006 and is based in United States.

History of Atrisco Oil and Gas:

The Struggle Continues


McClannahan, Rory.  “Offer May Not Match Value of Westland.”  Albuquerque Journal.  May 31, 2006.  Pg. B1.



This Resolution was Approved by the National Latino Congreso on Day Three Sunday October 7th

Result: Originally Passed by the 2007 National Latino Congreso; Amended in 2010

Author: Mr. Jaime Chavez


Phone: 505-962-2551     Email Address:

Show Organizations who Support or Oppose this Resolution

WHEREAS, RESOLUTION 2.22 The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Community Land Grants and Acequias in New Mexico and other States resolution was approved by the National Latino Congreso in 2006; and

WHEREAS, the Atrisco Land Grant is recognized as a community land grant in the General Accounting Offices’s Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; Definition of Community Land Grants in New Mexico (GAO-01-3300), and

WHEREAS, the Atrisco Grant in 1967 was converted to a for profit corporation and in 2007 was bought by Suncal, a California corporation/developer in violation of the treaty threatening Atrisco’s historic, cultural landbase; and

WHEREAS the treaty must be respected inviolate as a treaty to protect the community land rights and human rights of Atrisco people;

1. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the organizations represented by delegates of the 2007 National Latino Congreso urge the Congressional Delegation from New Mexico support a GAO investigation of the corporate buyout of the Atrisco Land Grant, and that the Governor of the State of New Mexico give direction to the office of the Attorney General to uphold the treaty to protect as stated in the New Mexico Constitution, “the rights privileges, and immunities, civil, political and religious guaranteed to the people of New Mexico by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; and

2. AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the organizations represented by delegates of the 2010 Latino Congreso support the Atrisco Land Grant efforts in New Mexico to engage the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, the US Congress, the Department of the Interior, President Barack Obama, and Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico to uphold the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to protect the land rights of the Atrisco Land Grant Community and bring about a just federal solution to reconstitute 57,000 acres of Atrisco common lands within the 82,000 acre land grant approved in the 1905 Patent recognized by the US Congress and signed by than President Theodore Roosevelt.



About elloborojo

Okay, as the subtitle states, this is a notebook from what I call a New Mexico diaspora (look up diaspora if you are asking). I was a former resident of New Mexico, now living elsewhere, but New Mexico is still my homeland. To get more in touch with your homeland one must be away from it. This is my attempt to understand it. I was a former anti-militarism activist in the Albuquerque area. Still believe that United Snakes militarism is the greatest threat to the world, as do the majority of the worlds population. Uncovered much information about the ties in New Mexico, but never processed it all. This blog is an attempt to do that. Also hope it may come of use to others with similar interests.
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8 Responses to Atrisco Land Grant Struggle, Constant Battles Over Land And Resources

  1. The Town of Atrisco Grant Merced has attained political subdivision status and has a Board of Trustees. We are taking the next steps in our evolution as a land grant. We have no common lands left, thanks to the decision by shareholders (not all of whom were bloodline heirs) to sell the land grant’s 55,000 acres to SunCal Companies of California for $250 million. SunCal has since gone bankrupt and a Britsh bank now holds the land. We have plans to affect a clean-up of Pajarito Mesa, which is on Atrisco lands and other projects of a cultural, social and economic nature. You can find information about the land grant at

    Richard J. Griego, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Town of Atrisco Grant-Merced

  2. Susan Taggart says:

    Hello my name is Susan Taggart. I have misplaced my shares in Atrisco. Who do I contact to get copies?

  3. La Academica says:

    I would really like to ask you a couple of questions in some work we are currently doing that connects back to Westland/SunCal. How can I get in contact with you?

  4. Tina Mares says:

    I have shares but how can they benefit me?

  5. Lauren Oswald says:

    We are Heirs of the Atrisco, Proud Generations..We keep our history close and our certificates locked up. The land grant was awarded and wriiten for blood blood heirs, only…Shares not Stock. Check the Facts. My family is proud we are a part of the histoy, the stories are our riches. The Voted CEO’s of the Westland Corp., took advantage of thier power and managed to invent stocks from the shares they so openly stoled from the entitled people, millions of dollars. We have our pride and our history, and “what goes around, will come around”.

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