Written by Juan Mancias, Tribal Chair of the Esto’k Gna – Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribal Nation of Texas
Connection. Our bodies are designed for it. Intricate systems of connections on and below our skin keep us alive. Neurons fire off and our hearts beat because our bodies listen to one another and no one system is competing above the rest.
Connection. Our minds are designed for it. We have an idea and immediately that idea branches off to various other points, creating threads of thoughts and beliefs. These are the foundation of our values and morals.
Connection. Our spirits are designed for it. Something happens, and we immediately want to tell others about it. We see a plant or animal, and our spirit is reminded of where we come from, reminded that we are connected.
Connection for original peoples of Abya Yala is everything. As Juan Mancias, Esto’k Gna of Somi S’ek wrote, “The land is our ancestors’ bones and flesh giving us life. The waters are the water that has left the bodies of our ancestors. So, as the ancestors are the land and we the ancestors, so the Esto’k Gna are the land. It is not we who own the land, it is the land that owns us. So, we stand for what gives us meaning and our ancestral identity. The river waters carry the blood of the Earth who are our ancestors as well. That water runs through our bodies thus giving life to the Esto’k Gna.’”
The Esto’k Gna are humans, the first people of Somi S’ek, with ancestral lands on both sides of the so-called Río Grande, which predates names given by the Spanish and all others arriving on their lands to what is now known as Texas, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and others.
Disconnection from ourselves is one of the first and ever-remaining tactics of internal forced displacement enforced upon original peoples. When the Spanish settlers arrived, they brought with them their connections to religion, money, and greed. They were not interested in the land, in the water, in the people. As such, they grouped and renamed the Esto’k Gna as Carrizo because of the carrizo (reed) huts or jacals used for homes. Later on, Mexican people called them Comecrudo because of the raw foods and greens eaten by the Esto’k Gna.
Disconnection is represented by the border wall, of which Juan Mancias writes, “The consequence of the Border Wall is the myths, lies and broken treaties that have been manifested to the U.S. citizens and the immigrants. U.S. citizens believe in the undeniable “All American Dream” of milk and honey” that this country proposes. Although as surreal as it may sound, it is not an immediate dream but an inter-generational nightmare of disparity and subliminal denial of language, tribal Identity, and Ancestral tribal lifeways. Immigrants to this country, depending on their skin color, are not often reminded that to achieve the “American Dream” you will surrender and sacrifice your very soul to the historical lies, thievery, murder, rape, and denial of cultural genocide of the Autochthonous Original People of the Land.”
Reconnection. What is needed, what will bring us back to one another. Since 2016, the Esto’k Gna have established villages along the so-called Mexican-US border to protect
indigenous sacred sites, resist construction of liquified natural gas (fracked gas) terminals and accompanying pipelines, and educate people about the environmental devastation the Border Wall will cause. One of these is Yalui Village, located a mile north of Ahumatau Mete’l (also known as the Río Grande), where ancestors of the Esto’k Gna rest, as well as descendants of people who had been formerly enslaved and freed, white abolitionists, and veterans from various wars. Yalui Village sits about a mile north of the so-called Río Grande, on the southern side of the levee, where the border wall has been proposed. Yalui Village is anywhere the Monarchs cross the Río Grande back and forth freely as it was before the colonized occupation of sacred lands.
*Juan B. Mancias, Tribal Chair of the Esto’k Gna of Somi S’ek, Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribal Nation of Texas, has a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas; a Certificate in Pastoral Studies from Incarnate Word University in San Antonio, Texas; and an Honorary Doctorate in Pastoral Counseling.