American Indians •  Law and Southwest

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Advocates for the Oppressed: Hispanos, Indians, Genízaros, and Their Land in New Mexico

Malcolm Ebright

Winner of the 2015 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

Struggles over land and water have determined much of New Mexico’s long history. The outcome of such disputes, especially in colonial times, often depended on which party had a strong advocate to argue a case before a local tribunal or on appeal. This book is partly about the advocates who represented the parties to these disputes, but it is most of all about the Hispanos, Indians, and Genízaros (Hispanicized nomadic Indians) themselves and the land they lived on and fought for.

Having written about Hispano land grants and Pueblo Indian grants separately, Malcolm Ebright now brings these narratives together for the first time, reconnecting them and resurrecting lost histories. He emphasizes the success that advocates for Indians, Genízaros, and Hispanos have had in achieving justice for marginalized people through the return of lost lands and by reestablishing the right to use those lands for traditional purposes.


Malcolm Ebright is a historian, an attorney, and the director of the Center for Land Grant Studies. His most recent book, written in collaboration with Rick Hendricks and Richard W. Hughes, is Four Square Leagues: Pueblo Indian Land in New Mexico (UNM Press).


“One of the most comprehensive studies of land grants in New Mexico to date. . . . Ebright not only provides an important history of land policy in New Mexico but also reminds readers of the long history of people who defended the rights of Indians in New Spain for hundreds of years. With this impressive piece of scholarship, Ebright himself keeps the spirits of these advocates alive for the modern world to appreciate.”



“This excellent book provides many insights into the complex history of New Mexico—over centuries—under Spain, Mexico, and the United States.”


Western Historical Quarterly

“A must-read for anyone interested in the legal aspects of Spanish colonial life and the land rights of the lower classes, Hispanos, and Native Americans alike.”


New Mexico Historical Review

“Ebright’s beautifully illustrated Advocates for the Oppressed is a meticulously researched and well-written collective narrative of individuals who defended the rights of Pueblo Indians, Genízaros (Hispanized Plains Indian captives or former captives), and Hispanos.”


Great Plains Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 448 pages 15 drawings, 4 maps, 2 charts, 4 tables