Borderlands Reporting

Esto’k Gna Reviving Ancestral Villages In Border Wall’s Path

Juan Mancias, Tribal Chair of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas (Esto’k Gna) at the National Butterfly Center, a non-profit conservation project fighting the wall alongside the tribe. Image: Greg Harman

The Esto’k Gna tribe is reviving ancestral villages along the length of the Rio Grande that stand squarely in the pathway of Trump’s proposed border wall expansion.

“We’ve been here thousands of years,” said Isidro Leal, a member of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, or Esto’k Gna, as he surveyed the Rio Grande River atop a high bank fortified over the years by piles of concrete and rebar. From this rise, it is more than 70 miles downstream to the Gulf of Mexico, but double or triple that distance if you follow the wild meanderings of the river itself.

It is in these accordion-like bends and folds of the water’s course that the Esto’k Gna, whose ancestral homelands straddle both sides of the river, identify innumerable sacred sites. “A lot of our artifacts are there,” said Leal, “and old village sites.”

Only a few hundred yards to the north is Yalui Village, a resistance camp set up by the Esto’k Gna at the historic Eli Jackson Cemetery. Esto’k Gna tribal members are buried here, as are the descendents of freed slaves, white abolitionists, and veterans of multiple wars.

And long before that, “this spot in particular was always a burial ground for us, always sacred land,” Leal said.

Yet by siting 25 miles of border wall on top of the river levee abutting the cemetery, the government threatened to “completely destroy” Eli Jackson, said Ramiro Ramirez, a descendant of the cemetery’s original founders. It would also destroy another cemetery and chapel a short walk up the road.


Read the full story by Deceleration Co-Editors Marisol Cortez and Greg Harman at VICE.

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