Oct 7, 2022 - News

What to know about Indigenous Peoples Day in Texas

Illustration of a student's notebook. On one side pages are torn out and on the other they are extended.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Monday is Indigenous Peoples Day — yet so many Texans don't know the history about the land that we reside on.

Driving the news: Native communities, like the Karankawas and Miakan-Garza Band, are pushing to revive their culture and advocating to preserve their histories.

Why it matters: Erasure of Indigenous histories and of the atrocities that American settlers and colonizers perpetuated toward Native populations is so prominent that until recent years, academics believed the Karankawa were extinct.

  • With Texas restricting how current events and the nation's history of racism can be taught in public schools, students are now learning less than they did previously with the slanted curriculum on Native history.

State of play: The Miakan-Garza Band, a Coahuiltecan tribe in San Marcos, has been renewing its fight to reclaim human remains from the University of Texas, per KUT.

  • The Karankawa people are reviving their culture by re-establishing traditions while fighting to protect the coastal area — where thousands of Karankawa artifacts were found, the Texas Tribune reports.

What they're saying: "Because historians starting in the 1900s said the Karankawa people were extinct, it made them legitimately extinct until they had the ability to step forward and reclaim their identities, which shows the power of history," said Southern Methodist University Ph.D. student Tim Seiter in a Karankawa revival lecture this week hosted by Lamar University.

  • Seiter is writing a dissertation of the general history of the Karankawa peoples who resided in the Texas Gulf Coast since approximately 1250.

Meanwhile: Texas drivers will soon start receiving a 15-page pamphlet that glosses over slavery and Indigenous history and oppression as part of the 1836 Project.

  • The pamphlet, which aimed to tell the state's story, follows the state's agenda to promote "patriotic education" and regulate how race, sexuality and history are taught in public schools, according to the Texas Tribune.

Zoom out: Across the nation, there is a Land Back movement that seeks to reclaim Indigenous jurisdiction and give tribes their land back. Most recently, Oakland, California became one of the first cities to give 5 acres of city park land back Indigenous groups.

Be smart: If your Texas or U.S. history class skipped over Indigenous populations, you can read books written by historians and Indigenous authors.

Go deeper: Several Houston-area organizations promote Native culture and education, including the new American Indian Center of Houston, the American Indian Genocide Museum, Houston Aztec Dance & Drum, the Gulf Coast Tia Piah Society and the Southern Apache Museum.


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