Last updated: June 16, 2023
Today at the mission, the community’s unique integration of Indian tradition with Christian religion is expressed in a profusion of Native motifs—rain clouds, corn stalks, baskets, blankets and more—that flow through the church’s neoclassical interiors. The display is an unexpected contrast to its Spanish Colonial Revival facade with sparse architectural décor. The cultural, architectural and spiritual juxtapositions reflect the disparate influences that have impacted Ysleta Mission during the more than 300 years since residents first made their way down El Camino Real to face an unknown future in El Paso del Norte (present-day Juárez, Mexico) in New Spain.
Ysleta del Sur is one of various Indian communities established in the region following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, when many Tiwa, Piro, Tompiro, Tano and Jemez Indians fled south from New Mexico with embattled Spanish settlers. The Tigua had left Isleta Pueblo, which was founded as a Spanish Franciscan mission after the Spanish colonization of New Mexico in 1598. Many Isletans stayed at the pueblo following the revolt. When Spaniards made a failed attempt to reclaim New Mexico a year after the revolt, additional Isletans joined their retreat back down El Camino Real to join the Tigua settlement on the south banks of the Rio Grande. Some of the Native Americans feared the revolt and chose to follow the Spaniards south, while others where forced to retreat to El Paso del Norte.
As members of a federally recognized tribe and sovereign nation, the only Indian pueblo in Texas, Ysleta del Sur’s native peoples maintain a strong presence in the lower El Paso Valley. Despite the modern development of many tribal lands, and ongoing legal disputes over land titles, Ysleta Mission remains a spiritual hub of the Tigua. Inside the mission today, statues of St. Anthony and Kateri Tekakwitha, the Catholic Church’s sole American Indian saint, share close quarters. Outside, El Camino Real runs along Socorro Road to the east and parts of Alameda to the west. Ysleta del Sur’s complex cultural landscape endures, distinguishing it as a place where missions and roads may rise and die, but history prevails.
Location (131 S Zaragoza Rd, El Paso, TX)
Onsite facilities include the church, an adjacent school, gift shop, and administrative office.
Several historical markers are located near the front of the church.