Javier Loera: Continuing Traditions

Chamizal National Memorial


Mark Calamia: What are your views on access today? Access to the river especially to do what you need to do as Tigua.

Javier Loera: It is a hindrance. It is very frustrating sometimes, in which we have to ask all these governmental agencies. . . . We have to ask prior permission or at least a month in advance for us to be there, to this area, where we have our traditional activities. And sometimes it's also very frustrating and because there's personnel looking down upon us watching over us in this very ceremonial activities that that we do, and that's like—disrespectful. That’s in essence sacrilegious in which they're observing us at a distance. These are very proud ceremonies and should be afforded the right to, as Native Americans, to practice our religious activities and ceremonies. . . .

Yes this area that we go for all our ceremonies and activities but we have to have their permission, their consent, in order for us to be there. . .

There’s—there’s a big wall being built right now, that fence. And that also contributes to the hindrance. The political situation at the moment also contributes to it—the building of those fences and walls and whatever. That is a contributing factor also. But we're talking about our ceremonies and our religious and traditional activities that we must observe and continue. . .

Mark Calamia: Next, I’d like to ask: How does the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo view the Chamizal Treaty given that the Pueblo did not participate in its development?

Javier Loera: We were not invited for this—I guess—what was it? A ceremony? Or dedication? Because at that time we were not federally recognized. So we kept to ourselves during those years prior to our recognition. We—we were just a pueblo here within the city limits of El Paso. But we pretty much kept to ourselves as a tribal pueblo, without all these political activities that were going on at that moment, in those years. But I guess if were invited, we could have gone. . . . ‘Cause we were invited for the dedication of other activities. The Elephant Butte Dam and all that. But it would have been a good idea if our chief during that time was invited. . .

It is of a great concern to me and our pueblo, and I speak so on behalf of our cacique, our chief, that we must open these dialogues, these communications. . . with different federal agencies to better be in communication with these government agencies. . . . First and foremost of most importance is our traditions. And, like I said they must continue. No matter how or what means. Because to us, as a tribe we must be respectful and continue our ceremonies and traditions. That is most important to me.


Chamizal National Memorial Cultural Resources Program Manager, Mark Calamia, Ph.D., interviewed Javier Loera, War Captain, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribal Council. This is an excerpt from that interview about the Pueblo's perspective on various aspects of the Chamizal dispute and resolution.


5 minutes, 13 seconds



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