A story over 400 years in the making is a story of hardworking, tenacious, yet hopeful people. The first immigrants to what is known today as the United States. A people who viewed their lives and their opportunities as coming from the land they worked; lands that provided shelter and sustenance; and finally in the land that represented hope for their children and their community. A small group of colonists who organized and created a beginning in the late 1500’s that has evolved today, some 400 years later, into a success story for the ages. Today, still organized and operating, the people of the Atrisco Land Grant pursue this generation’s hopes through the Atrisco Companies.
As a Spanish period land grant, Atrisco’s history covers from 1692 to the 21st century. During that time, Mexico, declared independence from Spain and ruled New Mexico from 1821-1848. Following the Mexican War in 1848, the United States acquired New Mexico beginning a new era for Atrisco. In 2006, the lands of Atrisco were sold to a commercial developer.
Among the original settlers of New Mexico with Juan de Oñate in 1598 were founders of Atrisco. By 1650, farmers and stockmen had settled Atrisco on the west bank of the Río Grande in present Albuquerque. In 1680, the Pueblo Revolt forced New Mexicans to flee south to El Paso. Governor Diego de Vargas retook New Mexico in 1692, and many of the settlers, among them Fernando Durán y Chaves of Atrisco, returned to reclaim their family lands.
When the Villa de Alburquerque was founded in 1706, settlers were already living in Atrisco, which ran from the escarpment south of the volcanos on Albuquerque’s west mesa to Pajarito. Atrisco stretched westward from the Río Grande River to the ridge on the western horizon. In 1769, the people of Atrisco received a second grant that ran from the ridge to the Rio Puerco River. Between the two rivers, Río Grande and the Río Puerco, the Atrisco Land Grant, encompassed 67,000 acres.
Who were these tenacious Atrisqueños? Among others, the 1790 census revealed that Atrisco had twelve ranching and seven farming families. Among them were four weavers, a spinner, and several wool carders. Shoemakers, carpenters and laborers, including a musician also resided there. By 1894, 224 settlers occupied Atrisco. They lived near four principal plazas named for dominant families in each location. This was an early evolution of our Atrisco community. The tenacity of our ancestors had helped them to survive in their new lands and flourish as a clan. Our ancestors believed in the spirit of the community land grant which they sought to protect and derive life from. A belief that the land was to be used for the benefit of all, for community.
By the 20th century, the people of Atrisco still farmed and ranched. In the early 1900s, agriculture began to decline. Sheep herding, homesteading and government land management programs had depleted or changed use of grasslands in the valley. After the Mexican–American War, Atrisco became a territory of the United States. From 1848 to 1904 the U.S. Government and the City of Albuquerque challenged Atrisqueños over the legitimacy of the land grant and it boundaries. However, in the end, Atrisco prevailed achieving in 1905 a US Patent recognizing property ownership in the United States of the Atrisco Land Grant by the Atrisco people. Between 1905 and 2006 other issues and challenges associated with the growth of the City of Albuquerque predominated, however, the land grant remained intact well into the 21st Century. In December 2006, Atrisqueños were approached by several land buyers as real estate prices and risen and once again the land had become a focus of interest. This time however, Atrisqueños voted to sell the land grant. It was sold to developer SunCal Companies of Irvine, California.
Our story, thankfully, does not end there. In 2007, the Atrisco Companies were spun out of the land grant sale. From assets retained and assets bargained for, new seeds for a new beginning were laid. A new generation of Atrisqueños, unwilling to see our heritage lost and our story come to an end set in motion the latest phase. We began a new chapter and a continuation of our 400 year journey. Through six (6) companies today, mostly non-profit organizations, the social enterprise known as the Atrisco Companies provides support to New Mexico communities though the various missions within the non-profit work. Bringing our land grant full circle to the original intent of our ancestors. Using the lands for the benefit of the community.
Today, approximately 50,000 Atrisco Land Grant heirs are descendant from the early settlers. Atrisqueños are committed to preserve the rich history and sense of pride that began with their forefathers.
We believe that the interests of our customers including their families are of primary importance. They provide the reasons for our existence and the rationale for the resources with which we operate.
As a social enterprise, we believe we have an obligation to provide to others our unique brand of leadership; setting a precedent for other non-profits to emulate and providing a model of sustainable support for the community to benefit from. As a social enterprise we shall operate in an intentional manner combining a unique application of free market business skills with social philanthropy; we further believe in value-based management delivery in all of our dealings with our stakeholders and seek to follow such strategies as a means of becoming the best service provider possible as well as offering our customers high quality services at prices below our market competitors.
We believe the long-term success of the Atrisco Companies is dependent upon the power of our own people. We believe our employees are our most valuable asset and that the continued investment, enhancement and increased diversity of our workforce is to be valued and celebrated.
We believe in a strong statewide presence by cultivating progressive relationships with local customers, partners, and their communities.
We embrace BOLD thought and action.
We proudly take OWNERSHIP of our mission.
We are ONE TEAM.
We are dedicated to SERVICE EXCELLENCE.
We believe TRUST is essential.
Peter is the CEO for the Atrisco Companies, a dynamic group of 7 social enterprises including the Rio Grande Educational Collaborative which provides before and after school programs for 1000’s of youth throughout New Mexico and Fathers Building Futures, an economic development initiative ensuring parents and families experiencing barriers from incarceration have the best oppurtunities for stability by providing on the job training in their custom wood shop.