Land and Water Traditions at the Core: The Importance of Community-Based and Community-Created Multicultural Education Models in New Mexico

  • Virginia Necochea Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS)


For far too long has the community been left out of major discussions surrounding educational reform in the state of New Mexico. Judge Sarah Singleton’s ruling in Martínez/Yazzie v. State of New Mexico (2018) opens up an opportunity for various stakeholders to offer alternative models in addressing the need to provide a ‘sufficient education’ to students who continue to be marginalized and underrepresented across the state. This article presents three educational models that are community-based and community-created—Cultivando Nuestro Futuro Leadership Institute, Macehualli Framework for Leadership Development, and the Ciclos de la Tierra: Cultivando Querencia through Mutualsimo and Social Justice Framework. Since 2011, the Center for Social Sustainable Systems (CESOSS), a small nonprofit in the Middle Rio Grande region, has been developing educational models that are founded on Indigenous/Native philosophies and that strive to connect young leaders, families, and community members to the importance of protecting and preserving land and water traditions in New Mexico. It is imperative that educational leaders include the voice and expertise of families and community-based organizations in addressing the recommendations as set forth in the lawsuit findings. The models presented here can offer ideas on how to incorporate transformative multicultural education models into K-12 education.