Borderlands Reporting

Mancias: Camp Toyahvale Part of Long History of Native Resistance in Texas

Mancias at the head of the Lajitas No Pipeline March (See: Standoff at the Lajitas Resort). Image: Greg Harman

Water Protectors in Texas have been engaged in a months-long campaign to force Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren to resign from the board. (See: We Want Parks Not Pipelines). Below is a brief conversation with Juan Mancias, tribal chair of the Carrizo/Comecrudo nation, that places this effort in some historical perspective. It opens around minute 3:30 on the embedded livestream made at last week’s protest outside (and in-) the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission meeting.

ETP is the company running the Dakota Access Pipeline being resisted at the Standing Rock Native American Reservation in North Dakota. In Far West Texas, direct actions organized against another ETP pipeline, the Trans-Pecos Pipeline, already stretching from near Fort Stockton to close to the US-Mexico border, are being led by the Society of Native Nations out of the Two Rivers camp in Presidio County.

Over the weekend, a child of 16 was arrested after locking down on construction equipment as part of that effort: tppl-youth-action-jan28_2017.)

But Mancias and others have set up another type of resistance camp a couple hours away on the perimeter of Balmorhea State Park and to the north side of the Davis Mountains. The mission of Camp Toyahvale is to protect the sacred springs at Balmorhea by resisting oil and gas development as fracking picks up in the area, led by a major find by Apache  Corporation.

“The direct action there is education,” he told Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners, inviting its members to Toyahvale to educate them about the proper way to protect sacred areas in the state. Balmorhea, he added, has numerous such sites, including burial sites.

The point of discussion was a vote on a donation of a six-acre strip of land to the state that would join two 50-acre parcels now making up Balmorhea State Park, site of artesian springs that serve as a popular swimming hole and are considered sacred by, among others, the Carrizo/Comecrudo people.

“One of the concerns we have is to make sure there is some consultation with the native people of that area, now that we have an interpretive center out there,” he told the commissioners. “Basically, we are tired of being ignored. Of being called extinct.”

Here’s a visual representation of what Apache’s interests look like in terms of possible frack wells in the Balmorhea area, courtesy of TXSharon’s Bluedaze. The company intends to drill up to 4,000 wells ranging across the roughly 350,000 acres they have secured mineral rights to.


As Mancias describes it, Camp Toyahvale, dedicated to cultural restoration and teaching of native lifeways, and Two Rivers Camp, taking on the Trans-Pecos directly, are just the latest iteration of a long history of under-reported native-led efforts in the state.

“A lot of the people don’t know anything about the history of the native peoples in Texas; they don’t know anything about these pipelines and how much a lot of the tribes have been fighting against them,” he said before the TPWD meeting. “I think this is great. [Toyahvale] opens the eyes to a different awakening.”

Just as there are several native prophesies about a Black Snake that some have attached to today’s reality of the Dakota Access Pipeline being resisted at Standing Rock, Mancias recently shared the following rock art reproduction on his Facebook page that would connect the Trans-Pecos and other similar pipelines already crossing the Rio Grande to prophesy.


I am sharing the prophecy of the Rio Grande River. The picture indicates the snake crossing the the Rio Grande and how the Esto’k Gna will take the stand to make this happen.

We are but the dreams of our ancestors who recognized boxes with crane like arms. There is more to the picture as well. We are the 7th generation of a 7th generation of a 7th generation. We are the the 7th to generation to coming generations and if we do not teach the teachings as they have been left it will be left to another generation or there maybe no more generations.

So I say do not simplify the teachings of the people who have given me the identity to be Esto’k Gna, by romanticizing it with generic forms of modernized spirituality. These teachings are not induced by Hallucinated babblery of poorly made up, confused, cultish, and distorted egos. Teachings include all emotions that connect us to the reality of creation without losing sight of the tribal teaching.

Esto’k Gna is the proper name for a people the Spanish would later call Carrizo.

Below is Mancias’s testimony before the commissioners regarding the need for indigenous direction at Balmorhea.