Chamizal Speaks is a series of interpretive talks given by park rangers to public audiences. Our park rangers give talks on a variety of subjects that pertain to the Chamizal National Memorial mission of exploring peace and understanding through cultural diversity and education.
The land that Chamizal National Memorial resides on was once part of Mexico and called Cordova Island. Guest Speaker Pete Flores, a local author, speaks of his childhood playing on Cordova Island, from sneaking over the border to pick fruit or play baseball to watching whiskey smugglers walk north into El Paso.
Ranger JR gives a stirring talk during concert intermission. June is nationally known as LGTB Pride Month and is observed by the US Government, the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, and Chamizal National Memorial. The video is very quiet at first, but at minute 1.21 the sound quality improves
Ranger Kristi gives a Music Under the Stars talk about our park's official seal. Learn about the Bald Eagle of the United States and the Golden Eagle of Mexico and how they contribute to our shared cultural diversity.
Good evening everyone. How are ya’ll doing? Are ya’ll enjoying the band?
I have 2 quick announcements before I give my talk. The first announcement is that we would like to say Happy Birthday to Greg Lawson, our Senior Sound Technician, back there in the middle. The second announcement is that the Chief Ranger wants to remind everybody to keep the middle aisle clear. Its ok for what you are doing right now; walking. But we don’t want anybody to park their bikes, or sit down in a chair, or stand in the aisle. Because that is our Emergency Exit aisle.
What we wanted to talk to you guys about tonight is Cultural Diversity. One of the things that Chamizal is here for is to provide you with cultural opportunities, like tonight we have Tropicalissimo Apache, next week we will have a Motown band. We also have events in our theater inside and all of these things are to allow people to expand their cultural knowledge.
If you look at our park seal here, that my two lovely assistants are holding, you will see some signs of our cultural diversity. On the top we have the American eagle, the Bald Eagle,, and on the bottom we have the Mexican eagle, and then in the middle we have a river running down the middle. What river might that be?
Yes, the Rio Grande. So basically our seal is reminding us that we are the United States. Right now we are on United States land but less than 50 years ago we were on Mexican land, and it all revolved around a river that ran down the middle of it.
So now how did we get these two emblems, these two eagles as our national emblems of the United States and Mexico? If you look at the top eagle, that is the Bald Eagle. It represents freedom and it was picked because the bald eagles soars to the tops of the highest mountains, it lives in the tops of the tallest trees and it flies where ever it wants to fly. It is very free.
How did we choose this bald eagle? Back in 1782, when the United States was very new, a country for just a few years, they were looking for a seal. They were looking for something that inspires spirit, and they decided to go with the bald eagle because it did represent that freedom. They said it had majestic looks, and strength and its ability to evoke a feeling of supreme power and authority. Everything you want in a new country.
The US seal, if you look at one, you’ll see a bald eagle holding in one hand he holds a bundle of arrows and in the other hand he holds an olive branch. That represents peace and war.
There is a widely believed rumor, nobody can decide if its true or not, that Benjamin Franklin was not in favor of the bald eagle being our national emblem. Does anybody know what bird Benjamin Franklin wanted as our national bird? (crowd murmurs) I hear the turkey and I hear one very emphatic chicken. The answer is the turkey. Benjamin Franklin, we think, he said that he did not want the bald eagle because the bald eagle was dishonest. It watched other birds get the fish out of the lake and it would fly after them, knocking the bird and catch the fish as it dropped the fish. It was stealing fish from other birds. So he said that he wanted the turkey because it was humble. It stayed on the ground, it didn’t fly, and it stood up to its opponents so it had courage. Whether that’s true or not, we went with the bald eagle.
If we go to the Mexican eagle, down at the bottom, the Mexican eagle isn’t a bald eagle. What eagle is the national emblem of Mexico? It’s a Golden Eagle, that’s its official name. The Golden Eagle was picked because the Mexican seal with the Golden Eagle reminds us of the founding of Mexico City. Once upon a time, as legend goes, the Aztec people were told by their Sun God to go in search of a new home. They needed to find a place of their own. They were to look for an eagle standing on a cactus, holding a snake in its hand and in its mouth. When they found this, that would mark where they were to make their new home. So the priests wandered around and finally, in the middle of a swamp, they found an eagle flying around in the sky. Right before them, he swooped down, caught a snake, and landed on a prickly pear next to the priests, and they knew that was where they needed to make their new home. So they made a home called Tenochtitlan, which later thrived and became what is Mexico City today. So if you see pictures of Mexico City, imagine it as a swamp.
Now both the Golden Eagle and the Bald Eagle are represented on our seal here to remind us that we strive for friendship between the two nations of Mexico and the United States. We also strive for friendship between all nations, but we mainly focus on Mexico and the US because we were Mexico about 50 years ago. We are coming up on our 50th anniversary.
So just as the shifting Rio Grande does not identify the boundary between the United States and Mexico, eagles don’t either. Eagles will fly wherever they want to fly. Here in the United States, the government protects both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1962.What the protection act says is that people won’t take down their nests, they will not take their feathers or any other of their parts, they will not steal their eggs. They will basically leave them alone to be free and undisturbed and fly wherever they want.
Now add to that the National Park Service, which we are a part of here at Chamizal. We also protect all animals. If there are any animals inside the boundary of this park, they are protected. They are supposed to be able to live out their lives undisturbed and unaltered. You can go to places like Grand Canyon National Park, stand on the rim of the canyon and watch Golden Eagles fly before you. You can fly up to Minnesota and go to Voyageurs on the lakes and watch the Bald Eagles fish and live their lives out in the tall tall pines. They will always be protected.
These eagles, like all national symbols, they represent the founding ideas of freedom and independence that are shared by people on both sides of the border. United States and Mexico.
Thank you very much. If you want to see our seal up close, you can come visit us over there at the red tent. And Thank you to my volunteers for helping.
During Music Under the Stars, Ranger Anne speaks of the dead grass and future landscaping plans. Park officials hope to create a landscape that is in harmony with the surrounding desert environment as well as allows visitors to recreate and enjoy the grounds.
6 minutes, 20 seconds
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Did You Know?
The two official signatures on the Chamizal Convention of 1963 are not those of the President of the United States and Mexico, but of Ambassador Thomas Mann of the United States and Ambassador Manual Tello of Mexico.