Original Tome Land Grant documents now available for viewing

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TOME, N.M. — New Mexico has so much culture, history and diverse communities that continue to preserve and celebrate what’s been passed down from their ancestors.

Now, a piece of history has been preserved forever, thanks to UNM.

“The town of Tome land grant was established by the Spanish government in 1739,” said Andrea Padilla, the president of the Town of Tome Land Grant.

It’s a place where every year, New Mexicans take their spiritual journey.

“Tome Hill is a sacred place,” said Padilla. “It’s been sacred to the Native Americans way before any of us were here. It’s a sacred place to all of us now.”

Padilla’s family goes all the way back to the beginning. She says her uncle put up the three crosses at the top of Tome Hill.

“I love history,” Padilla explained. “I grew up, like I say, listening to my parents, listening to my uncle, talk about history and the importance of our traditions, our songs, our music, our traditional ways that we did.”

Tome has done a lot to preserve that history and culture, including holding onto a document that’s more than 100 years old.

“The original plat that was approved and signed by Ulysses Grant to establish that this land did in fact belong to the Town of Tome land grant,” Padilla said.

Those copies are now preserved forever thanks to UNM’s Center of Southwest Studies.

“The history of that community is just so incredible,” Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury said. “I think one of the things that really struck out from our land grant tour is how these elders and community members continue to keep the history alive.”

The congresswoman was visiting Tome as a part of a listening tour.

“When those papers arrived in Tome, they arrived at a metal tube that was hand soldered together,” Rep. Stansbury described. “The leadership brought out the actual metal tube itself – and when they opened it up, it had all of the original paperwork that had been signed by the US government, including the map that outlined the lands of Tome. It included the patent and it included the original papers that had been signed by Ulysses S. Grant himself.”

Rep. Stansbury suggested land grant leadership go to the Center for Southwest Studies, the archive at UNM Library.

“Many of them were crumbling,” Stansbury remembered. “Get them flattened out and get them digitized so that they would be preserved and available for generations to come.”

“It’s very important that we teach that to our younger generations because I think we have a lot of young people who have no clue that we’ve been here for hundreds of years and that what we do is important to our community, to our country and to the world,” Padilla said.

“The fact that the paperwork has been passed down for generations is a reflection of the resilience of our communities and that our land grants truly are the keepers of that history,” Rep. Stansbury said.

You can still see the original copy for yourself at the Town of Tome Land Grant Museum.