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Trespassers on Our Own Land
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Trespassers on Our Own Land


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uan P. Valdez was born May 25, 1938 in Canjilón, New Mexico, the second of Amarante and Philomena Valdez' seven children. Juan's father took him out of school after the third grade to help with the raising of crops and tending of livestock necessary to support the family. After having been continuously denied grazing permits by the U. S. Forest Service it was necessary for Juan to sneak his family's cattle on and off the forest pastures on a daily basis. While in his mid-twenties Juan met Reies López Tijerina, a charismatic former preacher who was traveling from village to village in Northern New Mexico speaking out about how the United States had stolen hundreds of thousands of acres of grant lands that were supposed to have been protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Juan was the first of eight members of Tijerina's Alianza to enter the Rio Arriba County courthouse on June 5, 1967 in a failed attempt to arrest the local district attorney, Alfonso Sanchez. Ironically, the judge in the courthouse that day was J. M. Scarborough, the father of Mike Scarborough who would wind up assisting Juan in the telling of his family history. Trespassers On Our Own Land is the history of the Valdez family from the time Spain granted Juan Bautista Valdez, Juan's great, great, great-grandfather an interest in a land grant located around the present village of Cañones, New Mexico.