A conference exploring the legal rights, culture and history of genízaros, a long-overlooked group from whom many East Mountain residents are descended, will be held at Cañón de Carnué Land Grant Hall in Tijeras Canyon Aug. 23 and 24. 

The Nación Genízara Conference (Genízaro Nation Conference) will feature on Saturday, Aug. 24, a full day of talks by noted scholars and authors who will share knowledge and stories related to genízaro culture, history, slavery, early settlements, genealogy, music and art.

Genízaros were slaves taken captive in battles between Spanish colonials and Apaches, Comanches, and the Navajos; some were purchased at trade fairs after capture. They lived in Spanish homes as servants, but could gain their freedom by living in “buffer” communities that would serve as protection from Indian raids for larger, Spanish communities; for example, genízaros first settled in 1763 in what is now Carnuel to serve as such a buffer for Albuquerque. Constant raids prompted residents to abandon that settlement, but they returned in 1819. Nación Genízara also celebrates the 200th anniversary of this return.

Conference organizer Moisés Gonzales said Saturday panelists include Enrique LaMadrid, professor at the University of New Mexico and an expert on genízaros who, with Gonzales, is co-editor of an upcoming book on the subject. Also scheduled to speak are law professor Bill Piatt, on genízaros’ legal history and rights; Vigil, Isabel and Dexter Trujillo of Abiquiu Pueblo, who will share findings from a DNA study; Alexandria Garcia, on the erasure of indigenous identity; and Los Alamos National Laboratory research technologist Miguel Torrez, who is an expert on Native American genetic history.

Other participants include author Judy Alderete Garcia, who has written a book about her family in the Manzano Mountains; Susan M. Gandert, who discovered Indian slavery in her own family; and Dr. Irene Blea, author of Chicano social science textbooks.

The conference starts with a reception Friday Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. at the campground and picnic area south of the land grant hall. The Rock Canyon Tap Room next to the hall will be open. Conference speakers will talk throughout the day on Saturday and a dance will be held Saturday evening.

Registrants have the option to camp onsite. The conference fee includes the talks, some meals, the dance and camping. For registration fees and updates about times and speakers, visit the Cañón de Carnué Land Grant website at canondecarnuelandgrant.org, or contact Gonzales at coolarrow505@gmail.com.