Native American Heritage Month
Darcie Little Badger is an Earth Scientist, author, and member of the Lipan Apache. She earned her Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University. Little Badger’s first novel, Elatsoe, is set in modern-day Texas with a Lipan Apache protagonist and reached the Indibound Young Adult bestseller list within its first week. She has contributed greatly to Indigenous Futurisms. Her second novel, A Snake Falls to Earth, is due out on November 23, 2021.
Juan Mancias is a Tribal chairman for the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. He is spearheading the protest and lobbying against the Texas Liquefied Natural Gas in an effort to protect the Garcia Pasture. A sacred site in the Rio Grande Valley, it contains remains and artifacts of various nomadic tribes, including the Carrizo/Comecrudo. Mancias believes it is his duty to “preserve our sacred sites because that’s part of our identity.”
Love Sanchez is a member of the Karankawa tribe and co-founder of the Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend. Sanchez seeks to halt the industrial expansion in Corpus Christi and to protect archeologically significant land in McGloin’s Bluff. The Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend also represent Lipan Apache and Mexica members.
Maria Rocha is a member of the Miakan/Garzas Band of the Coahuiltecan and co-founder and Executive Director of the Indigenous Cultures Institute. In 2020, Rocha and her husband, Dr. Mario Garza, were successful in their fight to have the University of Texas repatriate three ancestral remains. She hopes to continue the fight, saying “this is a bigger movement than just three remains right now.”
Marika Alvarado, a Lipan Mescalero Apache, is a traditional healer. She specializes in using Native methods passed down from the women in her family. Her goal is to “help in the healing of others and to pass on these teachings [she has] been given.” She teaches classes in traditional medicine and was honored with a Lakota name, Pejuta Wakan Yuha Mani Win (She who carries the sacred medicine).
Dr. Mario Garza is an elder of the Miakan/Garzas Band of the Coahuiltecan, a state-legislature-recognized tribe of Texas, and earned his Ph.D. at Michigan State University. Dr. Garza is a principal founder of the Indigenous Cultures Institute, whose mission is “preserving the cultures of Native Americans indigenous to Texas and northern Mexico and maintaining our covenant with sacred sites.” He is active in graves protection and repatriation along with his wife, Maria Rocha.
Ramon Vasquez is a member of the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation and an activist who focuses specifically on community mobilization and community/academic partnerships. Vasquez serves as the Executive Director of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions. He is also co-founder of Land Heritage Institute and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. Vazquez is currently engaged in a protest regarding indigenous burial remains at the Alamo.
Yolonda Blue Horse is an activist and member of the Rosebud Sioux. Blue Horse is a co-founder of the Society of Native Nations, whose mission is to “protect and preserve the way of life, culture, spirituality, teachings, and medicines of the Native indigenous people of North and South America.” She is a board member of the Dallas Peace & Justice Center, is active in the campaign against racists sports mascots, and has led numerous protests, including a protest against Liberty Mutual in March 2021.
Carlos Aceves was a public-school teacher and co-founder of Xinachtli Project. The purpose of the project is to “introduce students to their ancient, indigenous ancestors’ belief that there is a self-evident relationship between everyone and everything.” Aceves is also an author of two books and is currently working on a third.