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"Census partners with American Indian group to encourage good count"

12/03/2009

It's admittedly small in comparison to San Antonio's other major ethnic and racial groups. In fact, the number may not reach 20,000 yet, but representatives of Bexar County's American Indian urban population — like many others concerned about the financial and political impact of a South Texas census undercount — are stressing participation in the 2010 Census.

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S.A. Express News



Portland, Denver and Chicago: Reaching for home Responding to needs of urban Indians

2/14/2005

Indian Country Today
By: Brenda Norrell

Summary of Article: PHOENIX - Stretched across the nation, Portland, Denver and Chicago are sister cities, sharing the common bond of attracting large numbers of American Indians in search of new beginnings. The cities, however, offer another common denominator: homelessness, hopelessness and the breakdown of the American Indian family. Between 31,000 and 36,000 American Indians live in Portland, Ore., and experience the unique circumstances of living in one of the most advanced and liberal cities while facing the highest percentages of urban Indian homelessness. Nichole June Maher, Tlinget executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland, said the city has the highest rate of urban Indian children dropping out of school and the highest rate of Indian children in foster care. Portland has long been home to Native families. It was a federal relocation site and the city attracted many tribal members from the six tribes in Oregon, which were terminated. ''A lot of Alaskan Natives who were homeless in Seattle come to Portland and are homeless,'' said Maher, one of the young community leaders at the National Urban Indian Family Coalition Summit in Phoenix, Feb. 2 - 4. Complete story: Indian Country Today.

Local dads take stand against family violence

01/19/2005

San Antonio Express-News
By: Vianna Davila

Summary of Article: A group of San Antonio fathers wants to provoke men — to take a stand against violence. The San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign's "Know More — No More" Stop the Violence Rally happens Saturday at the Plaza Avenida Guadalupe, 1327 Guadalupe St. The rally runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a social service resource fair until 3 p.m. Organizers planned the rally in response to a number of high-profile child abuse cases and deaths in the city and state over the past year. "Primarily with this rally we hope to accomplish I guess what we call a time for healing," said Frank Castro, with the San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign. "It's a time to reflect on the tragedies that happened last year and to also provide an opportunity for those who have been caught up in the cycle of violence to heal." The San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign is a partnership of seven organizations to promote the role of fathers in the family. District 7 Councilman Julian Castro and actor Jesse Borrego are among Saturday's keynote speakers. Complete story: San Antonio Express-News.


Fathers are united to provide holiday cheer

December 15, 2004

San Antonio Express-News
By: Vianna Davila

Summary of Article: Abraham Gonzales is a young father receiving help for his family this Christmas. Vicente Escobedo is a young father who's giving it. Escobedo, 17, is among a group of San Antonio dads who will donate to needy families across the city Saturday for the Fatherhood Goodwill Christmas Drive. He's also the single parent of 20-month-old Selena. "I'm just helping other families to get the help that I get, the support that I need and everything," said Escobedo, a student at Por Vida Academy, a charter school where he is working toward his high school diploma and taking parenting classes. Normally Gonzales, 25, helps other young fathers find resources as a volunteer for the Southwest Key Latino Fatherhood Program — resources that were hard to find when he became a dad at age 17. When he recently lost his job, members from Southwest Key were there to help him for the holidays. "This time they're reaching out to me since I'm the one in need," Gonzales said. And that's exactly what the Fatherhood Goodwill Christmas Drive is about — giving back to the community and showcasing the good work local fathers are putting into families, said Frank Castro Jr., coordinator of the San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign, a partnership to promote the role of fathers in families. This is its first year. Complete story: San Antonio Express-News


Coahuiltecan

April 1, 2001

San Antonio Expess-News
By John Davidson

Summery of Article: The American Indians who built the missions in San Antonio have been considered extinct for generations. Now descendants say their people never died out they went underground to survive. Many lived out their lives as Mexican-Americans. Many of them are asking for recognition - from the mainstream, from other Indians and even from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. "We always knew we were different. We knew we were Indian," says Ray Hernandez, sitting at his mother's kitchen table a block or two from Mission Concepcion. Hernandez and his mother are Coahuiltecans, members of the American Indian tribe who built the historic missions in San Antonio . The Coahuiltecans were long thought to be extinct, but now Hernandez and other members of the tribe are coming forward to say that their people did not disappear, but were forced to go underground to survive.
He and several other Coahuiltecans have participated in a study commissioned by the National Parks Service that may well place American Indians in a new light in Texas history, change thinking about ethnicity in San Antonio and add fuel to a growing grass-roots movement of Mexican-Americans identifying as American Indian.
For a complete copy of this article, contact the San Antonio Express-News.


Native Peoples Honored New Smithsonian Museum Celevrates Indian Culture.

September 26, 2004

San Antonio Express-News, Contributor: Rene A. Guzman
Chicago Tribune, By: Michael Killian
Summary of Article: Ramon Juan Vasquez (pictured right), a member of the San Antonio-based Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, hopes to see that reflected for regional American Indians as well. "I just hope its representative of our people here in Texas and South Texas," said Vasquez, executive director of the American Indians in Texas - Spanish Colonial Missions, a local nonprofit that offers advocacy programs for Indians. "Texas has always had a different history than the rest of the country, especially with its native population." Article not available online.

Foundation has ambitious plan for tract with a 15,000 - year history

06/27/2008

If archaeologist Alston Thoms could peer back in time, he'd sit atop the Tower of the Americas, look to the southern wilderness and watch ancient Coahuiltecans along the Medina River feasting on wild onions and turkey and chiseling tools from stone.

From this magical perch, the Texas A&M professor would see Spaniards arrive, Mexico lose land, Texas gain it and early Tejanos, Anglo settlers and black slaves working the land.

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American Indians in S.A. Mark a Milestone

12/03/2009

Ramon Vasquez points to the ground where Saturday's early morning ceremony will take place at Mission San Juan Capistrano. He and about three dozen others will erect a tepee 20 feet from the cemetery that holds the remains of Coahuiltecan Indians, Vasquez's ancestors who helped build the San Antonio missions. Sand will be spread to form the bed of a bonfire and reflections will begin.
Members of Tap Pilam, a local alliance of Coahuiltecan families, have held the ceremony for the past 10 years, since the Coahuiltecan remains were repatriated in thiscamposanto. For Vasquez, the ceremony will hold special significance as he considers how far his people have come since 1999.
That year, American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, Tap Pilam's legal entity, successfully closed a decades-long quest to re-inter the remains that archaeologists excavated from the mission in 1967.
“Standing here, it feels like it was just yesterday,” said Vasquez, AIT's executive director. “It was a very emotional time.”
Two hearses carried the bones from UTSA to Mission San Juan on that November day, and Tap Pilam elders worked two weeks to prepare the remains.
Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Vasquez said, only two bundles of bones were released for the public burial over which Archbishop Patrick Flores presided two days after Thanksgiving. All the remains ultimately were buried on the mission grounds, at the site of a church that never was completed.
The repatriation would catapult San Antonio's indigenous history into the public consciousness but not without a twist of irony. Coahuiltecan is the name assigned to South Texas Indian groups that were related by language. During the Spanish colonial period, many of these groups entered missions and were assimilated.
Descendants of Coahuiltecans, however, do not have federally recognized American Indian status. The Tap Pilam tribe has petitioned for federal recognition, but the process can take decades.
Despite the attempt to gain federal status, there is a debate among Coahuiltecan descendants about the need to secure official recognition.
“It's like we're asking permission to be who we are,” Vasquez said. “We've been very self-sufficient. We're living the life we want to live.”
Figures from the 2000 Census would appear to affirm his assertion. With its new feature allowing respondents to check more than one racial category, the 2000 count spurred an American Indian boom. Nearly 20,000 were counted in Bexar County, a stark contrast from the 4,265 counted in 1990.
Vasquez expects next year's count to be even larger, and his group has partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau for outreach into the local American Indian community. He looks excitedly toward the possibility of making San Antonio a hub for “urban” Indians.
So while Saturday's ceremony will be about the past, it also will be about the future.
“We're not here to fight anymore,” Vasquez said. “We're looking for creative opportunities to do the right thing.”

Veronica Flores-Paniagua - express-news

Council set to transfer historic Southside site to the Land Heritage Institute

1/9/2008

San Antonio Current
By: Elaine Wolff

Summary of Article: City Council is expected to vote in February to transfer the former Applewhite property to the Land Heritage Institute, a nonprofit coalition of historic preservationists, tribal representatives, naturalists, and archeologists who plan to develop it into a facility of interrelated living-history and artifacts exhibits, nature trails and primitive campsites, and open-air classrooms.
Complete story: San Antonio Current


Ramón Vásquez takes his proper place in community, family

11/20/06

San Antonio Express-News
By: Elaine Ayala

Summary of Article: Ramon Vasquez has come out of his father's shadow to assume a leadership role in the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation as Executive Director of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions. The challenges he faced growing up helped prepare him for the battles he would fight in his adult life, including the 1999 victory securing the repatriation of Native American remains at Mission San Juan.
Complete story: San Antonio Express-News


Powwow keeps up Indian traditions

9/19/2005

San Antonio Express-News
By: Karen Adler

Summary of Article: Long before the battle of the Alamo, members of the Coahuiltecan Nation helped build San Antonio's five famous missions and lived and died there. Descendants of those American Indians who want to protect their ancestors and keep their culture alive gathered on the grounds of Mission San José on Sunday for a traditional powwow and the Missions Heritage 5K Run/Walk. Events were organized by American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, or AIT-SCM, and United San Antonio Pow Wow. For many, the highlight of the day was a chance to meet Billy Mills, an American Indian who won the gold medal in the 10,000-meter race in the 1964 Olympics. Mills ran in the 5K and afterward spoke about defying perceptions. Complete story: San Antonio Express-News


Teaxas Indians: Blood is thicker than oil

2/20/2005

Indian Country Today
By: Brenda Norrell

Summary of Article: SAN ANTONIO - The state of Texas has recognized the descendants of five mission areas as the Aboriginal people of South Texas. However, in the oil-rich and primarily privately-owned state, American Indians are fighting long, hard fights for sovereignty and federal recognition. Ramon Vasquez, executive director of American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, said, ''Texas has one of the largest American Indian populations in the United States and does not have an Indian policy or commission that advocates on behalf of its Native population.'' Vasquez is among the founding members of the new National Urban Indian Family Coalition, seeking to give voice to the nation's urban Indians - a group Indian advocates call an invisible tribal nation. Many urban Indians live disenfranchised and dispersed, according to the coalition. San Antonio has the nation's 10th largest population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, with 10,000 Natives. Houston follows as the 11th largest urban Indian area in the nation, with 9,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to the 2000 Census. Currently, there are three federally recognized Indian tribes in Texas: Isleta del Sur (Tigua) near El Paso, Kickapoo near the border of Mexico and the Alabama Coushatta near the Louisiana border. Complete story: Indian Country Today.


Families and identity are the focus of new coalition to assist urban Indians

2/11/2005

Indian Country Today
By: Brenda Norrell

Summary of Article: PHOENIX - American Indians and Alaska Natives are organizing assistance to fellow urban Indians, who now constitute more than half of all Indians in the United States, following a radical shift in population to the cities from tribal lands since 1990. Gathered in Phoenix at the Heard Museum, the recent National Urban Indian Family Coalition Summit challenged Indian leaders and community members to develop new strategies to deal with the challenges of Indian child welfare, employment and housing while developing financial literacy and maintaining culture and identity. Complete story: Indian Country Today.


Men to shout out against kid abuse

1/21/2005

San Antonio Express-News
By: Tracy Idell Hamilton

Summary of Article: Like so many, Ramon Vasquez was horrified when he read about the starvation death of Jovonie Ochoa on Christmas Day 2003. As he spent the next year watching the death toll of abused children rise, the single father of three knew he had to do something. Vasquez, executive director of the American Indians in Texas-Spanish Colonial Mission, went to members with an idea. "I said 'Let's do a grito , a shout-out,'" he said. "We've got to end the violence." That shout-out begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, in the form of a San Antonio Fatherhood Campaign rally and resource fair, to be held at Avenida Guadalupe Plaza at 1327 Guadalupe St. "We know the men that perpetrate this violence are also victims of violence, and more than likely by men who looked like them," Vasquez said. "It's time for us to say no more. No more violence against our children. No more violence against our women, and no more violence against ourselves." "Know More — No More" is the rally's theme. By offering fathers information and support, Vasquez hopes men will help themselves. Complete story: San Antonio Express-News.

South San Antonio Chamber representative Penelope Boyer and Ramon Vasquez of the American Indians-Texas at Spanish Colonial Missions, who helped build the broad Land Heritage Institute coalition, stand on the bank of the Medina River on former Applewhite property.Coalition Summit: Phyllis Bigpond, executive director of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center, talks with Janeen Comenote, National Urban Indian Family Coalition coordinator from Seattle; Ramon Vasquez, executive director of San Antonio-based American Indians in Texas of the Spanish Colonial Missions; and Michelle Sanidad, CEO of United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle.
Ramon Vasquez, Executive Director of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, is the focus of a feature article appearing in the San Antonio Express-News.
Brenda Norrell Indian Country -- Sarah Hicks of the National Congress of American Indians Human Resource Committee talks with Ramon Vasquez, executive director of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, during the National Urban Indian Family Coalition Summit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix in early February.
Brenda Norrell Indian Country -- At the Feb. 2 - 4 National Urban Indian Family
Coalition Summit: Phyllis Bigpond, executive director of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center, talks with Janeen Comenote, National Urban Indian Family Coalition coordinator from Seattle; Ramon Vasquez, executive director of San Antonio-based American Indians in Texas of the Spanish Colonial Missions; and Michelle Sanidad, CEO of United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in Seattle.
Obituary: Coahuiltecan acknowledged her Indian heritage late in life

September 25, 2004

San Antonio Express-News
By: Carmina Danini

Summary of Article: It wasn't until her daughter's research into family history 15 years ago that Esther A. Herrera acknowledged a long-hidden truth: They were members of the Coahuiltecans, the area's first known inhabitants. For decades, prejudice against American Indians led her mother's family to retreat into the Hispanic community while denying their ancestry. "She didn't claim her Indian heritage until after I did, and as she learned more and more about her culture, she became empowered," daughter Nayoka Blackbird of Minneapolis said. "It was wonderful to see that she no longer needed to hide her identity." Herrera died on Wednesday of heart failure. She was 92. Complete story: San Antonio Express-News.

Indian remains' reburial today Group honoring past with respect, dignity

November 27, 1999

San Antonio Express-News
By: Joseph Barrios

Summary of Article: The remains of more than 100 American Indians are to be reburied this morning on the grounds of Mission San Juan Capistrano, more than 30 years after being excavated from the site. For the past two weeks, the remains - some no larger than a chip of bone - have been in the care of the American Indians in Texas-At the Spanish Colonial Missions, a South Texas group whose members trace their ancestry to mission Indians. Burial ceremonies began Friday at sunset. "We're trying to basically honor the past with respect and dignity," said Ray Hernandez, an "elder" of the group. "The first time they were being buried as Catholics. This time they're being buried as Coahuiltecans." The name Coahuiltecans encompasses several South Texas Indian groups that helped build San Antonio 's Spanish missions, founded in the 18th century by Spanish priests. The metal ping of hammer against pike echoed off the mission walls Friday as the group put up a large teepee in the center of mission grounds. Next to it stood a 5-foot-tall bonfire. The actual burial was scheduled to begin this morning just after sunrise. A Catholic Mass, administered by Archbishop Patrick Flores, is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. today. Hernandez's group, the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the National Park Service have been planning for the repatriation during the last several weeks, Hernandez said. Anyone with ancestral ties to the mission was invited to help plan the ceremonies.
For a complete copy of this article, contact the San Antonio Express-News.


Preserving a culture

September 20, 2004

San Antonio Express-News
By: Cindy Tumiel

Summary of Article: Joe Garcia's hands beat a soft rhythm on a simple rawhide drum as he sang the songs of his heritage — the prayer songs his father and grandfather had played before him. The soothing cadence of his voice and the native Coahuilteco words asked the creator to reach those who don't understand the ways of Native Americans, pleading that others embrace and preserve this culture for future generations."We gather in a humble way," Auburn Sky Gonzales, pictured right. Complete story and photos: San Antonio Express-News.


Connecting with culture Students focus on their American Indian roots for self-portraits

July 20, 2003

San Antonio Express-News
By: Marti Maguire

Summary of Article: Cedar smoke filled the air as Isaac Cardenas blessed each of seven images lining a wall at the Southwest School of Art & Craft's Navarro campus.All were portraits of young Hispanic faces framed by symbols of ancient cultures: a serpent motif, the Mayan god Chac Mul, a dreamcatcher. Seven local middle and high school students, all of American Indian ancestry, created the self-portraits during a month-long collaboration with California artist Emmanuel Montoya. A reception Saturday, which also featured the Yanawana Drummers, honored the students' work through the school's Guest Artists Residency Program. The workshop gave students a chance to learn more about themselves, their culture and their art. Cardenas, program manager for the American Indians in Texas - Spanish Colonial Missions, coordinated the project with the group's Rites of Passage program, which seeks to connect youths with indigenous teachings. "We know of our culture," said Cardenas, who is descended from the local Coahuiltecan tribe. "But we saw a lot of youth that didn't know."
For a complete copy of this article, contact the San Antonio Express-News.

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