Reies López Tijerina

Reies López Tijerina founded the Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres (Federal Alliance of Land Grants) in New Mexico to reclaim Spanish and Mexican land grants held by Mexicans and Indians before the U.S.-Mexican War. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed after the U.S. victory over Mexico, guaranteed Mexican citizens the retention of their land grants. The Alianza hoped to reclaim ownership of land through the courts of New Mexico; however, it was determined in a court ruling that the United States Congress was the arbitrator on issues of land rights based on international treaties.
In 1967 Tijerina led a raid on the Tierra Amarilla (New Mexico) County Courthouse. This event brought the issue of land rights to national attention and became a stimulus for the Chicano movement. In 1968, Tijerina unsuccessfully ran for governor of New Mexico with The People's Constitutional Party. Between June of 1969 and July of 1971 Tijerina was held at a Federal prison in Springfield Missouri because of his activities with the Alianza. His prison sentence led to the eventual dissolution of the Alianza. Reies López Tijerina is now retired and lives in New Mexico.