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Condemnation & Possession of Customary Lipan Apache Lands in El Calaboz Ranchería
U.S. v. 26 Acres of Land, and Eloisa G. Tamez, et al, 1:08-cv-0351; U.S. v. .41 Acres of Land and Benavides, et al, 1:08-cv-309
Dr. Eloisa García Támez (Lipan Apache) El Calaboz Ranchería Lower Rio Grande Valley Texas-Mexico Border ~~~~ U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs Border Patrol, U.S. Army Corps Engineers April 23, 2009
Preparer Margo Támez (Lipan Apache, Jumano-Apache) Doctoral Candidate American Studies Program Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Consultants Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., (Lipan Apache) M.S.W. Council Chair Lipan Apache Band of Texas Denise Gilman Clinical Professor School of Law, University of Texas at Austin Dr. Jeffrey Sheperd Assistant Professor American Indian and Western History Department of History, University of Texas at El Paso
Introduction: The FY08 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R.2764), also known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008,1 sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and signed into law by former President George W. Bush, requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to consult each affected entity along the U.S.-Mexico border impacted by the fence construction. Native American communities are specified as a group within the scope of those affected, and Congress set forth that the U.S. DHS Secretary must provide consultation "to minimize the impact on the environment, culture, commerce, and quality of life for the communities and residents located near" the construction of the fence. The bill provided for consultation prior to fence construction, and for the Secretary to have discretion over the location of the fence. In the spirit of H.R. 2764 we are seeking direct, face-to-face consultation with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security per the stipulations of H.R. 2764 regarding Native American populations. Federal consultation with Native American populations is crucial to the larger consultation process with extant impacted communities because the unique cultural, environmental, and commercial needs and rights of Indigenous peoples are frequently overlooked in the standard methods of general consultation. Such clarification is not viable within the context of a broad consultation process that failed to provide adequate time for preparation of concerns, lacked sufficient advertisement, and that excluded individuals who did not possess the resources to access public dialogues indicative of the consultation procedures. Thus, direct, face-to-face consultation would facilitate explanation of the deep historical and cultural ties between the landowner, Dr. Eloisa Garcia Tamez, and the El Calaboz Rancheria Community with the specific impacted area. This would objectively demonstrate the negative and irreversible harm and burden of the construction of the fence as currently planned.2 Eloisa García Támez, and nearby land owners also affected by immediate plans to construct border fencing on their land, (RGV-HRL-5019 1:08-CV-309) are able to demonstrate the importance of consultation on Lipan Apache rights to culture, environment, economic livelihood and way of life in El Calaboz Ranchería. As well, the impacted community members wish to express their concerns for the protection of their rights to practice their heritage based upon lineal, genealogical occupation of customary lands pre-dating European immigration into the Americas, and lands titled to them through Spanish Crown law. Background Eloisa García Támez, whose affected land is located in the traditional El Calaboz Ranchería, is a lineal and genealogical descendent of Lipan Apache people, who are aboriginal to Texas, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua and New Mexico. Her lineal ties to pre-contact traditional Lipan Apaches
The Library of Congress, Thomas, at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:H.R.02764, (Accessed April 21, 2009). Jeffrey Sheperd, University of Texas—El Paso, Department of History.
recognized in the region are through her father‘s side, the Garcías. Her lineal ties to the Lipan Apache Band of Texas are expressed through the admixture of Lipan Apaches with specific allied groups coexisting within Lipan customary territories during the Spanish colonial Vice-Royal period. Land grant and treaty-based Lipan Apache peoples inter-married with settlers and expanded their land holdings through customary Spanish laws. These family ties are inherent in the Cavazos, Esparza, Villareal, and Garza lines, who are families of Dr. Támez, et al. Thus, El Calaboz Ranchería members, who are directly descendent from these genealogical and lineal lines, are direct descendents of Lipan Apache and Basque-Spanish, bi-racial Basque-Tlaxcalan, Basque-Huasteca, and bi-ethnic indigenous peoples, who settled within Lipan Apache customary territories, through Spanish Crown title, established by the 1767 Visita General and the conquistador, José de Escandón, who established the colony of Nuevo Santander.3 Because of her lineage, her age and experience and the fact that she has been able to maintain possession of a small piece of traditional land, Dr. Támez is considered to be an elder and leader among the Lipan Apache community members living in El Calaboz and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Her grandmother and grandfather, Andrea Cavazos García and Aniceto García initiated her in a traditional lightning ceremony when Dr. Támez was a young child, only performed by Lipan Apache customary groups, and this established her lineal rights to lead among traditional elders in El Calaboz. The Lipan Apaches of El Calaboz Ranchería are a traditional culture founded in aboriginal traditions and belief systems, which are unique to the region‘s heterogeneous histories of Indigenous, Spanish, and Anglo cultures. The lands of the affected El Calaboz Ranchería landowners were confirmed by the State of Texas legislature on February 10, 1852. Known as the ―Bourland and Miller Report,‖ the original which is in the General Land Office, the records show that the affected lands condemned and those remaining in the possession of the impacted families are registered in the Texas General Land Office under the San Pedro de Carricitos Land Grant, #336.4 According to anthropologists Morris E. Opler, Verne F. Ray, and Enrique Gilbert-Michael Maestas, the majority of Lipan Apache lands in the United States have been lost to the Lipans and their lineal and genealogical descendents. In the final statement to an extensive ethno-historical analysis of documents relating to the Apaches of Texas before and after the American period, Verne F. Ray summarily concluded, ―the Lipan […] finally lost their tribal lands because they were dispossessed by action of the United States through overwhelming force and dishonorable tactics, all in the interest of making the Apache lands available to white settlers.‖5 This statement is a critical framework which has a penetrating value and currency for the Támez-Benavidez struggles to maintain measures of control over the cultural, environmental, and economic and quality of life issues on the impacted lands. While most of the communal and traditional lands were taken from the Lipan Apache, some individual Lipan
Lawrence Francis Hill, José de Escandón and the Founding of Nuevo Santander: A Study in Spanish Colonization, (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1926), 17-20.
Texas General Land Office, Archives and Records Division, ―Guide to Spanish and Mexican Land Grants in South Texas,‖ 2003. ―336, Villarreal, Pedro ―San Pedro de Carricitos‖ 12, 730.59 acres, Cameron County; Abstract C-26.
Verne F. Ray, Apache Indians X: Ethnohistorical Analysis of Documents Relating to the Apache Indians of Texas, (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1974), 173, Section 4.
peoples have managed to maintain private title to small individual plots of land that originally were situated in the greater expanse of customary tribal Lipan Apache territory. This is the case of the property of Eloisa Támez. Lipan Apaches—Impacted Indigenous People As the U.S. takes possession of a significant portion of the last remaining Spanish Crown titled lands of the aboriginal, lineal, genealogically-tied Lipan Apache families of South Texas, there are significant and lasting impacts not only to the local Lipan Apaches directly impacted. The extended Lipan Apache communities in South Texas also experience the psychological and spiritual impacts felt by the Lipan Apache peoples in South Texas as a result of this condemnation. The impacted families are seriously concerned about their current ability to recover, restore, preserve and to archive their loss. Their efforts to engage in consultation provide them a way to recuperate their ongoing efforts to reclaim, recover and to utilize the cultural treasures on their lands on both the north and the south side of the fence. This presentation will map out the impacted landowners‘ continuing intentions and needs to utilize the lands to the fullest extent on both the north and south sides of the fence construction. The land owners are concerned for the protection and recovery of the traditional Lipan Apache culture during the construction and post-construction period. They express this through ancient and contemporary values presented in a research-based historical analysis of Nádasi’ne’ nde’ isdzáné begoz’aahi’ shimaa shini’ gową goshjaa ha’áná’ idiłí Texas-Nakaiyé godesdzog [Translation: Preserving Lipan Apache Traditional Laws, Lands, and Pride in El Calaboz Ranchería, Texas-Mexico Border]. The indigenous principles are based upon contemporary methods in preserving indigenous cultural landscapes at high risk of extinction. It is the firm belief of this preparer and the participating consultants that the landowners‘ dignified responses to the dispossession of their traditional and customary lands are grave and important. They deserve serious regard and respect in this consultation process. The cultural, religious, psychological and symbolic dimensions of the possession and condemnation are at the center of those landowner responses and form the basis for the conclusions of this preparer. The concerns of the affected El Calaboz Ranchería families inform the methods of this presentation. It is the landowners‘ wish to bring productive awareness, peaceable understanding and a strengthened platform upon which to negotiate a humane and dignified resolution to benefit the cultural and historical needs of the impacted families of El Calaboz Ranchería.6 April 2009--Divided Lands of El Calaboz Ranchería The Lipan Apache lands-- forcibly condemned, possessed and now divided by the United States government—are sacred to the impacted landowners of El Calaboz Ranchería. El Calaboz Ranchería is
Margo Tamez, Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., Denise Gilman, Jeffrey Sheperd are established experts on the claims of indigenous families along the Texas-Mexico border who are directly impacted by the fence construction.
a sister-village to La Paloma and El Ranchito Rancherías—all three were titled by the Spanish Crown to three Villareal sisters who established the three inter-connected villages as one larger communal entity, named La Encantada. Thus, the issues raised here about impacts have a spiritual and psychological effect on lineally related clans in La Encantada villages, in Cameron County, along the Texas-Mexico border. In El Calaboz, the land condemned by the United States divides the impacted land owners‘ titled lands approximately in half. The lands to the north and south side of the land condemned are in full possession of the landowners, in customary indigenous law and in Spanish Crown law. Community consensus in El Calaboz re-iterates that the indigenous originarios—First Peoples—are the landowners in customary aboriginal law. The division of the parcels will impact the landowners as well as the communities to which they belong. This presentation will demonstrate these along the themes of ‗culture‘, ‗environment‘, ‗commerce‘ and ‗lifestyle‘ from Indigenous peoples‘ perspectives and principles. Their specific requirements for access and continuity of culture takes into account both the severe impediment of the forced condemnation of ancestral lands, and brings to bear upon the consultation process the everstrengthened will of the community members to access both sides of the fence in a manner fitting the cultural objectives of the community leaders of Lipan Apache in El Calaboz Ranchería, including Dr. Eloisa Támez. The following is a summary of the situated cultural meanings of the few remaining acres still occupied by Lipan Apache peoples of the Lower Rio Grande, which both pre-date the United States, and are reaffirmed in Spanish Crown title.
Culture and Spatial Significance of the Affected Lands
Figure 1: Lipan Apache Customary Geo-Cultural Spaces Source: Brian DeLay
Treaties, and other legal agreements, such as Land Grants, customary collective titles of ranchería peoples, and treaties with the Spanish Empire and Mexican Government, identify the Lipan Apache as one of the regional tribes of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.7 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted an in-depth analysis, survey and inventory which provided clear identification of the Lipan Apache in the Lower Rio Grande, Cameron County, and the Coastal Bend. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers‘ extensive report and acknowledgement of the historical and continuing efforts of the Lipan Apache relative to archaeological, ecological, environmental, and historical resources signifies an acknowledgement by the federal government of indigenous peoples‘ interests and laws related to access, rights, easements, surveys, assessments, construction. The U.S. Army Corps‘ report also acknowledges Lipan Apaches‘ continuing ties and bonds to lands as their cultural right and customary tradition in U.S. understandings of Native American peoples. The report conveys knowledge of the Lipan Apache peoples, families, and communities who are indigenous to the region of South Texas, Tamaulipas, and throughout much of the entire TexasMexico border region.8 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers‘ extensive report cites that the Lipan Apache are the only surviving Native American tribe that can be culturally and historically affiliated with the Indigenous people of the Texas Coastal Region that extends from Galveston to Port Isabella, Texas inland to the Big Bend Region. In 2006, the Lipan Apache people continued their traditional practices with the repatriation of the Buckeye Knoll 41VT98 archaeological site similar to the Lower Rio Grande Region sites. The archaeological site spanned over 10,000 years of Native American life and burial consecration, pre-dating all known cultures in Texas. Much of this history has been passed down orally among the Lipan Apaches.9 Lipan Apache families, communities and persons have historically inhabited the entire region of the Lower Rio Grande, on both sides of the Rio Grande River, prior to "First Contact" with European conquistadors and colonial settlers in the 16th century, and into the current year 2009. Lipan Apache today recognize the region encompassing the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and cardinal points in all four
Lipan Apache peoples are signatories on legal treaties, agreements and title-holder Land Grants affording our people the right to live on our lands under state protection. These include the following treaties: Mission Valero de Bexar, August 19, 1749 (Spain); Colonial del Nuevo Santander, March 15, 1791 (Spain); Alcaldes de las Villas de la Provincia Laredo, August 17, 1882 (Spain); Live Oak Point Treaty, January 8, 1838 (Republic of Texas); Tehuacama Creek Treaty, October 9, 1844 (Republic of Texas; U.S. Government); San Saba Treaty, October 28, 1851 (U.S. Government). Land Grants: San Pedro de Carricitos 1761 (Spain), Confirmed as #336, Texas Land Office. 8 Gardner, Karen M., "Native American Cultural Affiliation Overview for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District," Reports of Investigations, Number 131, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Galveston District, Prewitt and Associates, Inc., Cultural Resources Services, Austin, Texas, November 2001.
Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., Chair, Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Cúelcahén Ndé, testimony on file with author, April 22, 2009. See generally, ―Ndé: Anthropological Report on the Cúelcahén Ndé: Lipan Apache of Texas,‖ © Copyright, ® All Rights Reserved, 2004.
directions, as Nde’ shini’ shimaa, the customary and traditional territory, or homeland of the Ndé gową goshjaa ha’áná’idiłí [Tr: El Calaboz Ranchería People]. Sacred sites and ceremonial grounds, burial grounds, traditional medicinal plants, traditional mammalian foods, traditional agriculture, and traditional agro-ecological forestry are inclusive to Lipan Apache customary cultural landscapes. The cultural resources of the El Calaboz Ranchería are necessary tools and archives to the Lipan Apache communities with lineal ties to both the Támez and Benavidez properties. The community requests the intervention of Judge Hanen to strengthen the mechanisms for ensuring and planning for strong legal supports for the El Calaboz Ranchería community members. Elders are concerned that the future generations‘ abilities to access, utilize, define, interpret, describe, cultivate, propagate and ensure title to their cultural resources on both sides of the fence—may be threatened by the presence of U.S. armed personnel in the region unfamiliar with indigenous peoples and cultures. The community elders believe this will be critical to the current and future health of the Lipan Apache communities. Given that the condemned lands are managed heavily by the Customs Border Patrol and National Guard, the inherent rights to culture of the community members will require unique strategies and mechanisms to ensure the safety of Lipan Apache lineal community members in their pursuit of their rights to practice their religion, culture and way of life. The community members fear that the tragedy of JumanoApaches in Redford (1997) might play out in El Calaboz, if the U.S. government does not provide clear mechanisms for community members‘ protection and safety by instituting limits on Border Patrol surveillance upon the customary land uses by El Calaboz community land owners.10 Environment (and Indigenous Religion) To the Lipan Apache and indigenous peoples, including Dr. Eloisa Támez and other property owners like her, the fence construction curtails, delimits, and forces harsher restrictions on their access to sacred religious sites, experiences, and their ties to sacred plants and animals. These are intimately connected to increasing loss of culture, languages, clan oral traditions, ceremonies, rituals, and the practice of Lipan Apache culture—directly related to a long history of dispossession by the U.S. The
The most relevant, contemporary reminder of an Apache community exerting their cultural rights along the Rio Grande River and along the Texas-Mexico border, and the mis-reading of Apaches along the Texas border as ‗aliens‘, ‗foreigners‘, and ‗threats‘ by the U.S. government personnel-- is the killing of Jumano-Apache Esequiel Hernandez, Jr. by four (4) U.S. Marines. This tragic killing of an Apache teenager who was goat-herding on his families‘ lands and murdered by the Joint Task Force 6 on May 20, 1997 in Redford, (El Polvo) Texas resonates for Lipan Apache in El Calaboz. The mostly agrarian Jumano-Apaches of El Polvo, like the Lipan Apache of El Calaboz, strived to sustain their culture, traditions and way of life along their customary and traditional lands on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. See ―105th Congress (1997-1998), Summary of Activity, Public Laws and Hearings, ‗Oversight of the Death of Esequiel Hernandez, Jr., A report of Chairman Lamar Smith of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, November 1998.‘‖ Lineal ties between the Jumano-Apache of El Polvo and the Lipan Apache of South Texas have been established through the documentation and research of the Lipan Apache Culture Committee, 2008-2009. The use of force by the United States against traditional Apache peoples along the Texas-Mexico border to enact border security policies is documented in Memorandum, Col W.H. Parks, USMCR(Ret), to Maj Gen J.T. Coyne, USMCR(Ret), subj: Request for Expert Opinion Concerning Compliance With Rules of Engagement, 15 November 1997. See specifically the ‗Coyne Report‘: ―Investigation to Inquire into the Circumstances Surrounding the Joint Task Force-6 (JTF-6) Shooting Incident That Occurred on 20 May 1997 Near the Border Between the United States and Mexico,‖ April 7, 1998, at http://www.dpft.org/hernandez/coyne.htm, (Accessed April 22, 2009).
Lipan Apache experiences in Texas throughout the 20th century and to the present moment have been deeply incised by the pattern of ever-increasing dispossession and displacement from customary and traditional lands. Every time Lipan Apache families are displaced from their customary lands, there are ripples throughout their community because they are matrilineally organized throughout South Texas across numerous counties.11 The Támez lands in particular present a critical opportunity for Lipan Apache communities of South Texas to restore crucial cultural environments of Lipan Apache customs on the Rio Grande River, due to the way in which the Támez lands have been stewarded with a softer ecological footprint for more than five contiguous generations.
Figure 2: Dr. Támez, El Calaboz Ranchería, April 2009 Source: Dr. Jeff Wilson
Where certain species have been absent from other parts of the Lower Rio Grande River, the Támez lands have provided a haven for numerous endangered species to thrive. For the Lipan Apache traditional medicine people and traditional elders, the site has been pinpointed as central to educating future generations of Lipan Apache youth and elders, as well as scholars associated with Texas universities, colleges and schools. Environments and continuous practices of ecologically-based cultures of indigenous peoples is a serious contemporary concern across numerous academic disciplines and governmental spheres, founded on the principles of valuing and strengthening the mechanisms for indigenous peoples‘ survival in the 21st century. Environment (and Lineal Histories in Customary Land Use) Lipan Apache traditional histories are carefully archived and stored within El Calaboz Ranchería. The Támez genealogies on the lands situate not merely single ‗landowners‘, but entire communities of lineally related families of La Encantada.12 The larger community, in which El Calaboz
Verne F. Ray, ―Ethnohistorical Analysis of Documents Relating to the Apache Indians of Texas,‖ Apache Indians X, (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1974) 158-159. Cameron, Webb, Nueces, Live Oak, Frio, Atascosa, Goliad, Wilson, Bexar, Medina, Bandera, Uvalde, Maverick, Zavala counties are listed in Ray‘s census of Lipan Apaches in South Texas; Lipan Apaches are distributed throughout thirty-one (31) Texas counties. 12 La Encantada, History, at ―La Encantada School webpage: School History,‖ http://www.sanbenito.k12.tx.us/schools/Encantada/ee_his.html, (Accessed April 23, 2009). ―In 1781 the San Pedro de
Ranchería is positioned, is comprised of three Rancherías which are registered on the Texas Historical Society‘s list of historically significant cultural environments.13 Despite the fact that the community has ties to historically relevant cultures, Dr. Támez and the Benavidez family were never consulted individually about placement or impact of the fence; nor were other cultures and communities along the Rio Grande River who were similar to them. However, Dorothy Irwin (culture: Historic Plantation property owner) and the University of Texas at Brownsville (culture: Educational Institution) were provided with extensive avenues for consultation and locally specific modifications to the fence, based on ‗culture‘, ‗history‘, and ‗heritage.‘
Figure 3: ―Esparza Cemetery.‖ Source: Margie Esparza, La Paloma Archivist; In-law to Dr. Támez.
Carricitos Grant was adjudicated to Pedro Villarreal for services rendered to the crown of Spain. Pedro Villarreal brought his family and laborers to settle on his grant. When they arrived at Rio Grande they selected the highest ground for their settlement. This portion of land was bordered by the Rio Grande on the south and surrounded by an estero (old river bed) which made it easy to defend. The high ground protected it from the floods, the estero made it easy to defend from bandits and Indians (Lipan and Karankawa). On this land they found a freak of nature in a grove of Sabino (Jupiter) trees. This type of tree had not been seen in the northern part of Mexico and it is of special significance to Spaniards. Sabino groves are considered enchanted so the settlement was named La Encantada (The Enchanted).‖ ―By 1910 all the people that were living on La Encantada Ranch had moved about one half mile north along the Military Road and named their new ranch El Ranchito. Along the Military Road there were five other ranches, El Calaboz, El Naranjo, La Paloma, Las Flores, and El Ranchito. These ranches each had a one room school.‖ El Calaboz is a ranchería of traditional Lipan Apaches and intercultural alliances with Basque-Lipan Apache peoples.
Esparza Cemetery , Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas, Cemeteries of Texas Coordinator: Dolores I. Bishop Information provided by the State of Texas Atlas Site; Gloria B. Mayfield, ―Cemeteries of Cameron County Texas,‖ Cemeteries of Texas Project Manager. ―Location: US 281, 8.5 mi. W of Brownsville; Marker: This graveyard was named for Carlos Villarreal Esparza (1828-1885), whose family's occupation of the surrounding ranch land began in the early 19th century. According to family records, the original Esparza Cemetery was established south of this site in the mid-1800s. In 1888, Carlos' widow Francisca Garcia Esparza moved his grave and those of other family members because of flooding and other problems at the old cemetery. It is believed that Carlos' parents, Pedro and Felicidad Villarreal Esparza, are interred here. The cemetery is the resting place of family members who served in World Wars I and II, local civic and political leaders, officers in law enforcement and the Texas Rangers. A record of the area's Mexican American pioneers, it continues to serve the community. (1999),‖ at http://www.cemeteries-of-tx.com/Etx/Cameron/HM/esparzahis.htm, (Accessed April 22, 2009). Also see ―Esparza Cemetery‖ listed on ―Historical Landmarks of Brownsville,‖ as ―#24. Esparza Cemetery,‖ at http://blue.utb.edu/localhistory/Alejandro%20Vera/historical_landmarks_page%202.htm#24.%20Esparza%20Cemetery, (Accessed April 22, 2009).
Dr. Támez and the Benavidez family are lineal descendents of the orinarios, [First Peoples] conferred land-grants of the 1767 Visita General by José de Escandón. Indigenous peoples throughout the Rio Grande River were provided with Spanish Crown titles, in the form of smaller tracts of porciones and rancherías.
Prior to 2004, Dr. Támez and Margo Támez began visioning and planning for a site study of the gową, [Translation: family complexes] in El Calaboz, which have been contiguously inhabited and occupied uninterrupted by ancestral Lipan Apaches both prior to European arrivals to the Americas and after first contact with Spanish conquistador, José de Escandón. The cultural traditions of subsistence and low-intensive, organic agriculture of both introduced and traditional food plants, and the traditional wild-crafting of medicinal foods and plants, are both central and sacred occupations of the local inhabitants. This tradition of living intimately with the environment, as an everyday expression of indigeneity, is further challenged by the division of lands by the border fence.
Figure 4: José Emiliano García (Lipan Apache) and male relatives stacking pea harvest on the south side of the levee, ca. 1945 Source: Lydia Esparza García (Basque-Spanish); Courtesy of Eloisa García Támez Eloisa García Támez is the daughter of José Emiliano García (Lipan Apache).
The impacted families are concerned for the ways in which wildlife, which are considered sacred beings and messengers to the Lipan Apache traditional leaders, will be protected in order to access the south and north sides of the fence. The Lipan Apache believe that their own survival as a people is intimately bound up with the movement and mobilities of sacred animal wildlife, from time immemorial. Numerous creation stories connect the Lipan Apache to the wildlife currently threatened by the division of these sacred lands. They see the current threat to species as an ominous message to their own survival. Thus, the spiritual, livelihood and cultural barriers caused by the splitting of the lands by the fence, is central to the requests of the impacted community and their lineal relations across South Texas.
Figure 5: Turtle (Trachemys scripta scripta) caught between fence construction and the north side of fence construction, Támez lands, El Calaboz. Source: Eloisa García Támez Upon hearing of Dr. Támez‘s rescue of the turtle, Daniel Castro Romero, Jr. stated: ―The last time a turtle appeared to an elder Lipan grandmother in distress, according to oral tradition, was the evening before the Ranald MacKanzie massacre of Lipans in Remolina, Coahuila.
In 2007, Dr. Maestas‘ ―Identification and Reintroduction of the Lipan Apaches Foods‖ identified and documented the traditional Lipan Apaches customary foods. The report concluded that any future encroachment or environmental destruction of the Lipan Apache lands bordering the Rio Grande River would severely hamper the Lipan Apaches‘ sovereign right to exercises their traditional practices in the Rio Grande Region. The Lipan Apaches oral history keepers are traditionally tied to the customary foods that grow exclusively in Texas, primarily the Rio Grande Region. The report revealed that 29% of band adult members and 4% of our band youth had diabetes, almost double the national average. The American Diabetic Association has identified “. . . diet and food intake” as being the number one cause contributing to the onset of diabetes. The survey identified that 8% of our band adult members and 62% of or band youth had hypertension. The American Heart Association National Center identified that a poor diet causes hypertension and “. . . eating healthy foods low in fat and salt” leads to a healthy life. Most alarming were the surveys findings that 46% of our band adult members and 42% of our band youth had obesity that can be linked to poor diet habits. Thus, access to traditional and customary lands and the restoration of traditional customary land practices is a critical health issue for Lipan Apaches who have been structurally excluded from access to their ancestral lands through the forces of displacement by white settlement and the use of force.14 Economic Commerce/Livelihood Since 2004, and throughout 2005-2006, Dr. Támez and Margo Támez articulated a vision and a plan for the cultural economic development of the lands now being divided by the condemnation, possession and construction of the fence. In this visionary plan, known as the Ndé Cultural Landscape (El Calaboz Ranchería) Project, which situates El Calaboz within the larger context of important
Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., Ibid.
archaeological and cultural studies in West Texas and in Mexico, the Támez mother and daughter plan to institute a living cultural center to serve the Lipan Apache communities of youth, elders and families of the Lower Rio Grande River. Given their deep involvement in higher education, their vision encompasses institutional ties to South Texas communities which are interested in serious engagement with critical indigenous histories, languages, sciences, and governance. The larger reason for constructing a cultural center, from a Lipan Apache perspective in El Calaboz, is to empower an aboriginal group‘s social, economic, governmental and religious presence and their integral ties to the region‘s culture, histories and future.15 Even if the titled lands of the impacted families are divided through construction of all, the families are still focused on pursuing a civic-minded cultural and historical restoration and preservation of the lands which are still under their legal possession. The active pursuit of economic partners, from nationally recognized environmental and civic engagement foundations, is being aggressively pursued.16 Ecosystems and biodiversity of El Calaboz are documented in numerous scientific papers of plant and animal studies in the region.17 These environmental resources increase the religious, historical, and cultural significance of the region‘s biodiversity—which is more seriously under threat as a result of the fence construction. With the understanding that indigenous peoples‘ rights have been marginalized and isolated as a group impacted by the border fence construction, it is ever more critical that the local biodiversities, upon which indigenous peoples depend for survivance be weighed and prominently considered in consultation. Indigenous people‘s economic livelihoods are intimately bound up in their cultural identification with the lands.18 Quality/Way of Life Non-Indigenous peoples with untrained eyes may drive-by El Calaboz Ranchería and might completely miss the significance of the regional heritage and historically significant sites for all Lipan Apaches in Texas. However, the scholarly investigation and analysis of the community‘s rich archives indicate the community is an integral ‗text‘ for all Texas communities to turn to for a profound engagement and appreciation for surviving Apache peoples—and their intimate histories with nonIndigenous cultures, into the present period. El Calaboz can provide a way for Texas and the U.S. mainstream societies to engage with border Native American histories and cultures from indigenous people‘s perspectives. Lipan Apache‘s quest for recognition, growth, empowerment and participation
Margo Tamez, ―Nádasi’ne’ nde’ isdzáné begoz’aahi’ shimaa shini’ gową goshjaa ha’áná’ idiłí Texas-Nakaiyé godesdzog [Translation: Preserving Lipan Apache Traditional Laws, Lands, and Pride in El Calaboz Ranchería, Texas-Mexico Border], Research Poster, Native American Research Expo, Washington State University, February 20, 2009.
See attached funding application to the Bullitt Environmental Foundation, Seattle, Washington.
Margo Tamez and Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., ―Lipan Apache History, Culture, Sacred Sites, Archaeological Resources, and Ecological Rights in the Lower Rio Grande, with respect to Cameron County and Titled Lands Held by Lipan Apache Lineal Descendents, in the case of Eloisa García Támez,‖ January 21, 2009. See report for references and citations.
For explication of the interdependence of local indigenous peoples‘ health, ecologies and cultural dependencies upon the lands, see Romero and Tamez report, as cited above.
on the border of both U.S. and Mexico‘s societies, should be respected and acknowledged as an example of democratic values and principles. Their civic engagement to protect their traditions throughout the border fence controversy should be a model in furthering U.S. societies‘ engagement with law, policy, border issues, and the challenges presented to international border cultures in the face of national security concerns.
Figure 6: Naiiees Isdzanaklesh –White Painted Woman Coming of Age Ceremony, Lipan Apache Culture Restoration Project, July 19-20, 2008, South Texas ‗Civic Engagement of Lipan Apache Daughters and Mothers in Response to U.S. Threats to Indigenous Cultures‘; Dr. Támez‘ daughter and granddaughter participated in critical cultural restoration of customary women‘s ceremonies in South Texas on July 19, 2008. Women‘s high status, lands, resources and customary law are the backbone of healthy Lipan Apache community life.
The landowners—elders of the community—believe this consultation process should be a resolution to alleviating contemporary problems in racial, ethnic, and political conflicts. They believe that they have valuable lessons to teach. Their story is worth deeper public engagement at numerous levels across community-based, public and scholarly forums. The elders believe that the lessons of a productive consultation process will benefit all cultures and future generations of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Elders of high status, such as Dr. Támez are integral to the resilience and persistence of indigenous cultures gaining more respect and gaining recognition in Texas and the United States. The community‘s elders represent the resilience of the indigenous peoples—in the public education system and at the community level. The border fence issue and its debate in public have seriously disfigured local peoples and cultures. Local peoples have been stereotyped and their cultures distorted through the xenophobic discourse of ‗the foreign‘, (non-Anglo) ‗Other.‘ The contemporary challenges to the Lipan Apaches‘ quality of life on the fringes of U.S. border policies and racism demonstrate the need to listen carefully to elders‘ voices to restore balance. Dr. Tamez repeatedly references the traditional uses of the mesquite pods among her community as an everyday health practice. Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) pods were chewed on by children, at the urging of parents and grandparents and other clan relatives for their health benefits. Tamez explains her standpoint,
―We used to climb up all the mesquite trees, and we learned how to choose the ripest ones, which were darker red and thick. Then we children chewed on them and enjoyed the sweet flavors. You see, we didn‘t have ‗deserts‘ then, as we were poor and we never knew that part of the Anglo culture, nor did we need to. Today, in modern medicine, we know how healthy and necessary these foods are for our indigenous people—and these types of foods in our immediate environments along the river are absolutely critical to our survivance as a people. We had everything we needed right here within our grasp—in the trees we had the mesquite pods and we ate them whenever we needed to. Nature was our grocery store and our pharmacy. We had everything we needed to be healthy. Today, even the wealthier people go to the curanderas / [traditional indigenous healers] to ask for the ‗right‘ medicines for their ailments. The scientists today know much more –they know that traditional uses are extremely valuable and critical for community health. This is why I cannot allow for our places to be destroyed, or for the medicinal plants which ‗raised me‘ to be destroyed. Shall we go into town and bulldoze or build a wall between the people at RITE AID, or H.E.B. or the fruit and vegetable road-side stand which Valley residents find beneficial to their balanced diets and menu planning for their families? I think not. Our traditional cultures have rights too and should be equally valued and respected.‖19 As gatherers, the Lipan Apaches ranged over large regions to harvest prickly pears (opuntia phaeacantha), algerita (mahonia wilcoxii), sotol (dasylirion wheeleri), mesquite (prosopsis juliflora), pinons (pinus edulis), pecans (carya illinoensis), buffalo gourd seeds (cucurbita foetidissima), and other wild foodstuffs. Where soil was good and water available, some crops, notably maize and squash were raised. The Lipan Apaches cultivated in the entire length of the Rio Grande River, group areas that were found in remote or hidden areas, or rancherias were temporarily established and maintained, or revisited during the growing season, while hunting and gathering activities were continued.20 Dr. Tamez‘ historical and contemporary lived experiences demonstrate the integral and intimate relationships between rare birds, woodland trees and botanicals along the river and riparian zones, and the value of indigenous peoples‘ low impact, subtle and nuanced interaction within their own environments.
Eloisa Tamez, telephone interview, January 22, 2009. Daniel Castro Romero, Jr., Ibid.
Figure 7: El Calaboz Ranchería, Extended Clans Gather north of, on, and to the south of the Levee. Easter Sunday, A traditional feast day for Catholic Lipan Apaches, ca. 1945 Source: Lydia Esparza García; Courtesy of Eloisa García Támez
These integral relationships of land, religion, peoplehood, and culture— developed over generations—aid the proliferation of biodiversity along with indigenous peoples‘ happiness and prosperity on their lands. The Lipan Apache are a religious people who have had endured throughout time with prayer, medicine, and the elements of the river. Secure access to their lands, practices, resources, and way of life makes them who they are—Ndé, the People. Deliverables: Impacted Lipan Apache and El Calaboz Originarios Position: The fence construction impacted and disrupted landowners from their community-based development of a research-based cultural landscape project to enhance the religious, ecological, social, economic, historical development of the Lipan Apache heritage of El Calaboz Ranchería by the government‘s taking of land for the construction of a border wall.21 The impacted families will need safe, regular access to both the north and the south side of the fence to continue with the implementation of these plans. The Lipan Apache peoples and the culture will continue to assert the rights of an indigenous community‘s need for ceremonies, feasts, gatherings, and for the development of a historical cultural center and education institution. This is an issue of high importance for all government agencies whose personnel will be encountering community members taking access to their lands on both sides of the fence. This issue will require relationship building and memorandums of understandings between the indigenous community leaders and the United States. The impacted peoples request consultation prior to the construction of the fence in El Calaboz. The following are the requests of the impacted land owners. 1. Site visit with consultation team of experts with the U.S. government and Judge Hanen at the El Calaboz Ranchería impacted lands, and surrounding community, to include: a.
Dr. Eloisa García Támez
Margo Tamez, ―Bullitt Environmental Foundation Grant Narrative,‖ April 5, 2009.
b. c. d. e. f.
Peter Schey, et al Margo Támez Daniel Castro Romero, Jr. Drs. Jude Benavidez and Jeff Wilson Dr. Jeffrey Sheperd
2. Face-to-face consultation meeting, mediated by Judge Hanen, between Dr. Támez and the United States government with the presence of attorneys and experts to determine a mutually acceptable location and form of construction of border fencing on the Támez and Benavidez properties as well as a mutually agreeable time frame for construction of the fence given the unique impacts on culture and indigenous rights implicated by construction of the fence on the lands at issue in this specific matter. 3. a. Upon proper consultation and agreement, the Tamez and Benavidez families would accept fencing to be built by the Department of Homeland Security upon their properties in the following manner: Fencing should be of the same height and form and should be constructed of the same materials as the fence constructed on the University of Texas at Brownsville campus pursuant to the agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the University of Texas at Brownsville. The fencing should be designed with current technologies which allow for the mobility, migration, and nesting/calving/feeding patterns of local wildlife. b. An access gate should be situated on each one of the properties to allow access to the south or Rio Grande River side of the border fence and to the full extension of the titled lands. The affected property owners should have full and complete ability to enter and exit through said gate 24 hours a day without restriction. i. Move gate location to El Calaboz, to honor the elders Benavidez and Támez physical limitations. Elders need special consideration in this consultation. They are taking the impact for all their future generations. c. On the Tamez land, the fence should be located no further north of the levee than the existing chain link fence currently on the property. If desired by both parties, the fence construction project could consist of improvements to the existing chain link fence rather than construction of an entirely new fence structure. On both properties, the fence must be located within the segment of land over which the Department of Homeland Security has obtained possession in these proceedings.
4. An agreement between the Tamez and Benavidez families and the Department of Homeland Security should be reached to allow title to the entire extension of the two affected properties to remain with the current property owners through withdrawal of the Department of Homeland Security‘s February 2009 condemnation complaint and the submission of a joint motion by the parties for rescission of the April 15, 2009 order of the court granting possession of the named properties to the Department of Homeland Security. 5. Full repair and compensation of all damaged lands, all shrubbery, all trees and all vegetation…on both north and south side of border fence; Particular emphasis on replanting the destroyed indigenous vegetation, local indigenous medicinal plants needed by the local wildlife species and for the traditional and customary uses of the Lipan Apaches and El Calaboz Ranchería community members. Habitat consultation is urgently needed because the U.S. balded out huge areas of connected lands prior to condemnation and possession, as they encroached upon the impacted landowners‘ properties. 6. Prioritize a fence structure which will mirror the significance of the lands‘ histories, historical persons connected to the lands, and the importance of the families‘ plans to develop the property in accordance with economic, cultural and religious values. Re-design the wall structure consistent with the value placed on the unique education mission of El Calaboz Lipan Apache experts, to establish a cultural center and institute for their community members. 7. Model the wall in El Calaboz prioritizing humane and sensitive practices. Construct a wall with similar features as the University of Texas at Brownsville—not a mammoth architecture of a prison gulag, currently in place. We are human beings, not prisoners to be condemned and scorned by the Border Patrol. The wall will have a psychological effect on the Border Patrol as well. If they see that the U.S. only sees fit to put a gulag prison wall around our sacred lands and our elders, then their psychological attitudes toward us as a people may have dire consequences for our current members who are going to be using the south side of the lands frequently. This is an indigenous peoples‘ perspective, based on consistent patterns of dispossession and racism. 8. Prioritize the mobilities of all sacred wildlife habitats existing in the El Calaboz area which allow for the seasonal migrations, and nesting/calving/feeding patterns of local birds, coyotes, deer, turtles, chacalacas, and others. They can exist there because our elders took care of the lands on which they depend. They are our responsibility as the First Stewards, and First Peoples here on these lands. Please provide us safe mechanisms to continue on our cultural path of integral bonds with our customary lands. 9. The community members fear that the tragedy of related Jumano-Apaches in Redford (1997) might play out in El Calaboz, if the U.S. government does not provide clear mechanisms for their protection and safety by instituting specified limits on Border Patrol surveillance upon the customary land uses by El Calaboz community land owners. Given the implemented plans to pursue their cultural institute on both sides of the levee, the elders request a Memorandum of
Understanding between the U.S. government and land owners to provide specific mechanisms, procedures, rules, and regulations to enact cultural trainings of Customs Border Patrol personnel about Lipan Apache customary uses of the impacted lands. The violent legacies of racism, nativism, xenophobia and cultural incompetency in regards to Texas-Mexico Native American communities has lead to violence, injuries and death among Apache families at the hands of U.S. Customs Border Patrol and U.S. Marines on the Texas-Mexico border before and after 1997. The land owners seek measures to keep the elders, families, children and future generations safe during this current period of U.S. possession of our customary and titled lands.
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