Tierra Amarilla

Youth Leadership Institute

A 7-day cultural immersion program held on 200 acres of liberated land in Northern New Mexico



"What we want to instill in our students is a pride in their history and their culture, which they don't always get in public education"

-Dr. Priscilla Falcón





A Brief History

The Tierra Amarilla Youth Leadership Institute was established in 1989 by a group of Mexican parents in Denver concerned with the future of their children.  These parents (majority of them being single mothers) began to question the social and political conditions facing Mexican youth.  The reality of a society plagued with racism, sexism, drugs, gang violence, teen pregnancy and high dropout rates led to a focus on youth empowerment through self-determination.


During this time, an armed struggle 250 miles south of Denver had reached its climax.  In Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, a historic victory took place for the Mexican community with the seizure of 200 acres of occupied land.  Here the group of parents saw the possibility for Mexican youth of the occupied territories to reestablish their lost connections to their land, history and cultural roots.  These two separate efforts led to the foundation of an educational youth program.







About the Program

The Youth Leadership Institute is a 7-day cultural immersion program located in Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico.  The program is held on 200 acres of liberated land that was won in 1988 through an 18-month struggle by the Mexican people.  Youth will gain leadership skills and the self-determination to challenge the social injustices prevalent in their communities.  It is our belief that youth must first learn to love and respect themselves before they can love and respect anyone else.







Tierra Amarilla symbolizes the creation of a community where youth can learn their true history, understand their culture and build the capacity to transform society.







What to Expect

A sense of community is created as people from different places meet each other and share in developing camp rules, organizing into work crews and setting up their tents and recreational activities.  The relationship between students and teachers, as well as all involved is transformed through equal participation in activities, fostering a mutual relationship between all individuals.


The land is rustic, with no electricity or running water.  Everyone sleeps in tents, eats nutritious meals and learns in outdoor classrooms.  The daily schedule begins with a three-mile hike at dawn and is followed by chore duties and work projects.  In the afternoon, youth attend class sessions and each night ends with a student-led dialogue that calls into question the economic, social and political conditions that Mexican youth face today.







Class Topics

7 Cultures of the Americas

La Mujer

Mexican Revolution

Contemporary Mexican History

Chicano Movement

Land Grant Struggles

Revolutionary Art

Food Justice

Health & Identity

Many more!







The Youth Leadership Institute is based on the following basic rules during the encampment

No alcohol or drugs

No firearms or weapons

No gang affiliations

Participation in all activities is required




Tierra Amarilla 2019




Tierra Amarilla 2018




Tierra Amarilla 2017




We would like to thank everyone who attended Tacos y Tequila Pa' La Tierra and 

contributed to the Tierra Amarilla Youth Leadership Institute.


A special thanks to

Adelitas Cocina y Cantina for providing the tacos and

Suerte for providing the tequila.

A Special Thanks to the Chinook Fund for their continuous

support of Tierra Amarilla Youth Leadership Institute



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