In this video you can see the beginning of an acequia birthed at the Rio Grande River in Northern New Mexico during my last exploration up north in the San Gabriel de Yunque area of Española and Ohkay Owingeh.
Under that one word “Acequia” , the word, has two definitions. Acequia literally, physically is the irrigation conveyance system, the canal, the whole irrigation infrastructure that delivers water from the river to the irrigation field. The acequia is also the organizational structure and the group or community that is tasked with maintaining and operating the acequia. As an organization it is also a political subdivision of the state of New Mexico. An acequia is legally known as a government entity.
This video was taken of one of the oldest acequias in North America.
Did you know that the term “Acequia” is universal? It is. Acequia is actually Arabic. It is the Arabic word that is “as-sāqiya” and it literally means a canal. What makes it universal is based on — they call it the “Islamic Law of Thirst,” which is the doctrine that no living creature should be denied access to water.
Every living thing needs water to survive and it is not our place to deny life to any creature, any person, or any animal and the acequias have been that in an arid place like this — in New Mexico. They came from Valencia, Spain where you still see the highest number of them…functioning acequias. They were brought from the Spanish who learned about them from the Moors. They brought the concept of acequia — even the word “noria” the word we use for well. They got to New Mexico in 1598 via the Spanish and the first ones were dug in what’s the community of “Chamita” now and that was the community of “San Gabriel de Yunque.”
Anytime settlers came into an area the first thing they did was they dug the acequia and built a church.