Shirley Romero Otero
2022 Corn Mother Honoree
I was born at home in 1955 in San Pablo, Colorado to Moises and Esmeralda Olivas Romero. I had three older brothers and a younger sister, Dorothy. My sister and I are the only ones still alive. My parents and grandparents were involved with La Sierra, especially with efforts to ensure communal access to common land on the La Sierra portion of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant in Colorado, particularly after that access was taken away in 1960.
I trace my ancestry to Mexican arrivants and Jicarilla Apaches and have spent my life as a public educator and leader for land rights in southern Colorado. Following in my parents’ footsteps, I have taken on wealthy absentee landowners who blocked communal access to common land on the La Sierra portion of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant in Colorado. I was deeply involved in a decades-long court case that culminated with a 2002 Colorado Supreme Court decision restoring grazing, wood gathering, and other use rights to the original land-grant families and successors. I continue as President of the Land Rights Council, serve as Director of the Move Mountains youth project, and am a newly appointed member of the Board of Directors of The Acequia Institute.
In addition to serving for more than a decade on fundraising committees for low-income families and as chief organizer of the annual La Raza Youth Leadership Conference from 1992 to 2009, I have served as Director of the local chapter of the Move Mountains youth project. I have also served on the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition and the Latino Advisory Committee for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
What I told my daughters as they stepped into the school bus:
“You are going to school for more than yourself. What your mind can conceive and your heart can believe, you will achieve.”
Shirley os on page 79-82
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