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American Indian man wearing a blue shirt and white sash around his waist stands along the sandy banks of a low-flowing river. Browning vegetation lines the river banks. A rising plateau can be seen in the distance.
Rick Quezada, Director of Cultural Preservation at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, stands along the banks of the Rio Grande in Sunland Park, New Mexico. Picture taken December, 2019.

NPS / EVE TORRES

The Rio Grande has sustained human life in this desert valley for thousands of years. The settlements that became El Paso and Ciudad Juárez grew together along its banks. Long before the river divided people, it connected them.

 
A wide, calm river flows between banks covered in low, green vegetation.
The natural banks of the Rio Grande are visible looking downstream from a location near Mesilla, New Mexico.

NPS / RODNEY SAUTER & 106 GROUP / CHRIS EVANS

 

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo

For generations this area has been part of the traditional homelands of ancestral and contemporary American Indian peoples. These people include the Suma, Piro, Jano, Jacome, Manso, Jumano, Jornada, Comanche, Kiowa, and the Lipan, Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache. For the people of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, their living culture remains tied to the land and river. Experience the history and heritage of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo by visiting their Cultural Center.

 
Three men and three women, dressed in traditional attire, dance side by side using gourd instruments and feathers.
Dancers from Ysleta del Sur Pueblo perform a public dance at the 10th Annual Rocking The Rez Pow Wow at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

NPS / BRIAN KANOF

 
Man wearing a wide, red, patterned headband; a red, patterned shirt with green and black ribbons across his chest; and a red, black, and green patterned sash around his waist.
Javier Loera, War Captain, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribal Council

NPS / BRIAN KANOF


"In our traditional beliefs the river, El Rio Grande, Pethla, is a living entity. . . . It is very sacred to us."
—Javier Loera

 
 
A closeup view of the black, red, and blue designs on a buff-colored background.
Detail of pot donated to Chamizal National Memorial by Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. Made by Frank Gomez.

NPS / BRIAN KANOF

Pottery made by the people of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo (Tigua Indians) embodies their relationship to the Rio Grande: the clay from which it’s made, the water it carries, and the people who make and use it.

 
old map titled "New Spain" with red line running roughly north-south, which indicates location of trail
The red line imposed on this 1804 Humboldt map indicates the Camino Real with the blue arrow indicating the location of Paso del Norte.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO LIBRARY

El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro

In this area the river cut through a mountain pass which had long facilitated travel and trade. Nearby, Spanish colonials developed a settlement which they called Paso del Norte (today’s Ciudad Juárez), along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

 
A black-and-white photo of two oxen pulling a two-wooden-wheeled cart. Two men stand in front of the cart, behind the oxen. Two other men stand nearby.
A team of oxen pulls a carreta along an urban dirt road in Mexico.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO CENTENNIAL MUSEUM

For approximately 300 years, traders and settlers drove hand-hewn wooden oxcarts (carretas) along what we now call El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

 

Chamizo

The name Chamizal (chah mee SAHL) comes from the chamizo plant, or four-wing saltbush. This shrub grew abundantly on El Chamizal, land in the floodplain contested between the United States and Mexico.

 
Close-up of the yellowing, seed-bearing branches of a shrub. Some small, papery, winged seed capsules are visible along crowded branches.
Four-wing saltbush (chamizo) heavy with seed on the Chamizal National Memorial grounds, October, 2019.

NPS / DARA MCGUINNESS

 
 

More Cultural Landscape References From "Nearby" National Parks

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    Last updated: July 7, 2022

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