The Community Acequia: Its Origin and Development 261
THE COMMUNITY ACEQUIA: ITS ORIGIN AND
WELLS A. HUTCHINS,
ASSOCIATE IRRIGATION ECONOMIST, BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS,
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
The "community acequia," "public acequia," or "community
ditch," as it is variously termed, is an irrigation organization com-
posed of the owners of lands bordering on or irrigable by a ditch
constructed and maintained by such landowners. This organiza-
tion has been and is of considerable importance in New Mexico.
In other portions of the Southwest it was formerly important in
connection -with the colonization activities of the Spaniards, but
has been almost entirely supplanted by Anglo-Saxon institutions.
The origin of the community acequia as an institution may be
traced to Spanish and Indian sources, while its development was
closely associated with the Spanish settlement of the Southwest
and was continued under the Mexican and American regimes.
However, the water rights of existing community acequias or
ditches are not necessarily of Spanish or Mexican origin; there
being a clear and important distinction between the water rights
of the older acequias derived from Spanish or Mexican authority,
and those of community acequias or ditches originating after the
American acquisition of the Southwest and acquiring their water
rights under American State laws.'
The Indians of the Southwest have carried on agricultural
operations with the aid of irrigation for centuries. Remains of
extensive irrigation works of unquestioned antiquity have been
found in the Southwestern States," one ancient canal system having
'This article is part of a manuscript prepared for a bulletin entitled
"Spanish-American Community Acequias," by the same author, which
has not yet been published.
2Hodge, F. W., "Handbook of American Indians," U. S. Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, Part 1, plp. 620-621, and "Prehistoric
Irrigation in Arizona," American Anthropologist, July, 1893, pp. 323-
330; Mindeleff, Cosmos, "Aboriginal Remains in the Verde Valley, Ari-
zona," U. S. Bureau of American Ethnology, Thirteenth Annual Report,
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 31, July 1927 - April, 1928. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101088/. Accessed July 11, 2014.