Abstract

The objective of the Doña Ana Sphere Project is to contribute towards a fuller understanding of both crisis and dispute resolution during natural disaster, war and military occupation. From 1828 to the 1850s, a series of floods devastated the mostly indigenous and “mestizo” communities of Paso Del Norte. As a result of these floods, land for growing food and habitation became scarce. During this same time period, these same communities were subjected to violent attacks by indigenous groups known as “Apaches.” In response to the floods, many families of the Paso area lived a life in flux, moving from village to village, which created intra-community conflict. Eventually, many families moved to a place called Doña Ana, about fifty miles north. By 1846, the United States Army invaded and occupied Doña Ana during the U.S.-Mexican War.

This project will examine the strategies of the villagers of Doña Ana during the occupation of their village by the U.S. military. It will also examine the local Juez de Paz (Justice of the Peace) process in resolving the intra-village conflict precipitated by the flooding and inter-community migration. One of the key aims of this study is to understand, through diligent archival research, how the families of the Doña Ana Sphere negotiated and adapted to the political, economic and social realities of their time. Such a study may also reveal their tactics for the construction of a complicated peace.

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