reies_tijerinaLUMPENPROLETARIATGONZO:  I was in high school when I first discovered Reies Tijeriña. [1]  I used to mine the San Mateo High School library for books about the history of the struggles for socioeconomic justice by my ancestors, my people.  Luis Valdez’s classic anthology of Chicano literature, Aztlan, became an important guide for some of us first discovering the occulted history of the Chicano Movement.  It seemed the Civil Rights Movement had paved the way for other subjugated ethnicities to organise themselves for socioeconomic justice, such as the Arizona land grant movementTijeriña would go on to work with other civil/human rights leaders, such as Dr. Martin Luther King on the Poor People’s March.  We had all learned about César Chávez and the United Farm Workers as well as the saintliness of Chavez’ commitment to non-violent resistance to injustice.  But there were other Chicano leaders, who were much more provocative and incendiary.  Reies Tijeriña was easily one of the most inspiring Chicano leaders of the 1960s counterculture generations, who expanded our political imagination with his unwavering conviction for liberty and human rights.



Reies Lopez Tijeriña video uploaded by Abel Muhammad on 12 JAN 2012 [2]

Reies Tijerina speaking at the Second Symposium held at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) on 5/9/1969, video from the Communication Studies Archive was uploaded by UCLACommStudies on 11 APR 2014.  One of the opening speakers, Juan Gomez, also the event moderator, a then-UCLA doctoral student and faculty member of San Diego State College, discussed El plan de Aztlan statement from the 1969 Denver Conference from four weeks prior.


AL JAZEERA AMERICA—[19 JAN 2015]  Reies Lopez Tijerina, a Pentecostal preacher turned activist who led a violent raid of a northern New Mexico courthouse nearly 50 years ago, died Monday. He was 88.

Family representative Estela Reyes-Lopez said Tijerina, who helped spark the radical Chicano movement, died at an El Paso, Texas, hospital, of natural causes. A nephew, Luis Tijerina, also confirmed the death.

Tijerina, who had been battling a number of illnesses, including a heart condition, had to use a wheelchair in recent years but still occasionally gave speeches.

While admired by some students, his activism was steeped in violence and his legacy remained controversial. He also drew criticism for his treatment of women and comments largely viewed as anti-Semitic.

In 1963, Tijerina founded La Alianza Federal de Mercedes, an organization that sought to reclaim Spanish and Mexican land grants held by Mexicans and American Indians in the Southwest before the U.S.- Mexican War.

Four years later, Tijerina and followers raided the courthouse in Tierra Amarilla to attempt a citizen’s arrest of the district attorney after eight members of Tijerina’s group had been arrested over land grant protests.

During the raid, the group shot and wounded a state police officer and jailer, beat a deputy, and took the sheriff and a reporter hostage before escaping to the Kit Carson National Forest.

Tijerina was arrested but ultimately acquitted of charges directly related to the raid. He did eventually spend about two years in prison for federal destruction of property. The raid outraged some, but it sparked excitement among Mexican-American college students of the Chicano movement.

It also placed Tijerina as one of the leaders in “Four Horsemen of the Chicano Movement,” which included Cesar Chavez of California, Corky Gonzales of Colorado, and Jose Angel Gutierrez of Texas. Tijerina was later dubbed “King Tiger” and compared to Malcolm X.




[1]  If memory serves me, from Luis Valdez’s classic anthology, Aztlan, Reies Tijeriña’s surname is Spanish.  So, the surname Tijerina, I think, is a corruption of the original spelling, Tijeriña.  Please correct us, reader, if you have confirmation of the correct spelling.

[2]  YouTube video by Abel Muhammad (12 JAN 2012):  This is a video I put together from a news report on NPR’s Latino USA on Reies Lopez Tijerina.  A beautiful human being and fighter for the Indo-Hispanic and oppressed people.  This YouTube video consists of audio from NPR LATINO USA with images of photos Abel Muhammad compiled from the internet and his personal collection.


[25 OCT 2016]

[Last modified 10:25 PDT  25 OCT 2016]