Inspired by the river, the settlers chose the name Atrisco

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – A busy street west of the river takes its name from a settlement that existed before Albuquerque was even an idea.

Atrisco Drive — and the Atrisco Land Grant after which it is named — are a monument to the first wave of European immigrants to New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The grant and the story of his heirs lives on today through the Atrisco Companies and the Atrisco Heritage Foundation. Albuquerque Public Schools opened a high school on the West Mesa in 2008 and named it Atrisco Heritage in recognition of the area’s settlers.


Atrisco Drive begins in the South Valley and heads north, breaking off at Interstate 40 and Coors Boulevard, finally ending near the Petroglyph National Monument. A walk along the road offers a glimpse of modern dwellings, but the area was once home to a colony of people who arrived with Spanish explorer Don Juan de Oñate. These pioneers settled along the western banks of the Rio Grande in 1598 and used the land to farm and raise cattle.

“They were the first non-native settlers to come to this state,” said Peter Sanchez, chief executive of The Atrisco Companies. “They were the first immigrants to come to our land. It was 10 years before the English landing on the East Coast. It is important to understand the beginnings of our state and how people started coming to our state. »

His convoy included mostly Spaniards, but there were also Mexican Indians, Greeks, Africans, and Sephardic Jews.

The name Atrisco comes from the native Náhuatl word “atlixo” or “aixco”. Several possible meanings are attributed to the words, including on water, on water, near water, and on the surface of a body of water.

Some suggest that the settlers named the area after their homeland in Mexico’s central valley, which was then New Spain. The meaning or reason for the original name may vary, but what is clear is that the early inhabitants of Atrisco were influenced by their proximity to the river.

“It’s an aboriginal term that means being near the river,” he says. “This name did not exist in Spain at the time.”

These people made their lives there at the behest of Oñate, who traveled to New Mexico to establish small Spanish settlements along the Rio Grande in an effort to claim the territory for the King of Spain. Sanchez said the South Valley’s geography made it an ideal location for a settlement.

“It was the biggest grassy plain from Los Lunas to Bernalillo,” he said. “It was prime property to grow crops and things like that. The west side of the river was chosen because of the sun.

Nearly 100 years later, in 1692, Spain granted the settlers a 67,000-acre land grant that stretched from the Rio Puerco in the east to the mesa in the west.

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 had blocked Spanish settlement in the area, but it returned to Spanish control when Don Diego de Vargas successfully reoccupied New Mexico territory. By 1760 over 200 people had come to live in what was now known as Villa de Atrisco.

According to the historical records of the Atrisco companies, there are today 50,000 heirs of land grants linked to these early settlers. The way of life started by their ancestors began to die out. The grasslands of the middle Rio Grande Valley were depleted in the early 1900s. The Industrial Revolution also changed the way Americans worked. Agriculture was no longer the only industry.

The majority of the Atrisco Land Grant was incorporated into Westland Development Co. Inc. in 1967, and the heirs became shareholders. It was a decision spurned by many heirs, who could trace their roots to the area 400 years ago.

One of them was the famous author Rudolfo Anaya, who received the shares from his parents. He criticized the move, saying the ancestors did not want them to sell the land and instead intended to use it for the social good of the community and future generations.

“The value of my inheritance as represented by my actions means nothing to stockbrokers on Wall Street,” he said in a 1967 editorial in the Albuquerque Journal. “The value of my shares means everything to me. They are a thread that I hold to my story. I wouldn’t give them up. I will not put my history and my culture up for sale on Wall Street.

Eventually, in 2006, the Atrisco Land Grant landed in the hands of commercial developers. Some heirs still call South Valley home, living on the land claimed by their ancestors so many years ago, but Albuquerque, Atrisco’s largest neighbor to the east, eventually swallowed it up, dragging it down with it. the pressure for commercial growth and development that we see there today.

Comments are closed.