Tijerina, Reies

Alternative names
Birth 1926-09-21

Biographical notes:

José Angel Gutierrez, Reies Lopez Tijerina, Rudolfo "Corky" Gonzales (L-R) In El Paso, Texas at the first National Convention of La Raza Unida Party, 1972. Part of Part of Reies Tijerina Pictorial Collection, PICT 000-654-0001-0149 (Box 1, Folder 2).

Chicano land grant activist Reies Lopez Tijerina was born September 21, 1926 in Poth, Texas, to migrant workers Antonio and Erlinda Lopez Tijerina. Tijerina enrolled in the Latin American Bible School in Saspamco, Texas in 1944. He left the seminary in 1946 to pursue religious self-discovery.

1949-1950, Tijerina spent much time in the southwest and Mexico researching land grants. He relocated his family to New Mexico in 1957, continuing his land grant research. On February 2, 1963, La Alianza Federal de Mercedes (Federal Alliance of Land Grants) was founded, largely through Tijerina's efforts. La Alianza quickly became a radical organization. Occupation of the Echo Amphitheater campground near Abiquiu, and the June 1967 armed raid on the Rio Arriba County courthouse brought national attention and intense scrutiny to La Alianza, destabilizing its membership and significantly weakening its influence upon Hispanos in New Mexico. Tijerina, facing criminal charges relating to the courthouse raid, traveled to Washington D.C. in June 1968 to head the Mexican-American contingent at the Poor People's March. He also formed his own political party, the People's Constitutional Party, and attempted to run for governor of New Mexico, but was found ineligible.

Convicted on charges of criminal assault of a federal officer and the destruction of federal property, Tijerina served time in federal prison. Released in 1971, he was ordered to sever his association with the already weakened Alianza as part of a parole agreement. He incorporated the Institute for the Research and Study of Justice (IRSJ), a non-profit group that sought to research and study all aspects of justice. In 1983, he relocated his family to Coyote, New Mexico, where he began to focus on international issues such as millennialism, nuclear armament, the Holocaust, and Middle Eastern issues, especially the Palestinian and Israeli conflict.

Trials and tribulations from La Alianza days weighed heavily on Tijerina's family life. Two failed marriages and an arson fire in 1994 which destroyed Tijerina's Coyote home and extensive library were part of the price tag for his activism. By 1995, Tijerina relocated to Michoacan, Mexico, where he continues to speak out on indigenous land issues and a variety of international issues.

From the guide to the Reies Tijerina Papers, 1888-2003, 1963-1978, (Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico.)


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Ark ID:


  • Mexican Americans--New Mexico--History
  • Mexican Americans--Education--New Mexico
  • Rio Arriba County (N.M.)--History
  • Land titles--New Mexico
  • Political activists--New Mexico
  • Mexican Americans--New Mexico--Rural conditions
  • Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century
  • Migrant labor--United States
  • Social movements--United States
  • Mexican Americans--Civil rights--New Mexico
  • Land settlement--Southwest, New
  • Land tenure--New Mexico
  • Land grants--New Mexico


not available for this record


  • Tierra Amarilla (N.M.) (as recorded)
  • New Mexico (as recorded)