Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Resistance and Resilience

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“We were not even supposed to be here, but look at us now,” said Matilde Torres, a member of the Native American Church and a speaker at the Indigenous People’s Day celebration in Brackenridge Park.

On Oct. 9, we join together to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day to recognize and honor Indigenous culture and history. Our community has joined this holiday as the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project and the Pakahua Nation De Coahuila Y Tejas hosted a celebration at San Antonio’s local Brackenridge Park, where people enjoyed various vendors, consumed delicious cultural food, viewed beautiful traditional dances and showed their appreciation for Indigenous traditions. 

The event offered lots of fun activities, starting with a variety of stands that sold intricate jewelry, healing crystals and other festive trinkets. One vendor, Crystal Carpenter, was a part of the celebration, selling items such as crystals, beads and oils. 

“I have tools for doing ancestral work. I have tools for connecting with the elements with the chakras, with the zodiac signs and I use essential oils and crystals because they all have a frequency. Everything is energy,” Carpenter said. Aside from her booth, other vendors were present with similar jewelry and items that the community could acquire.

During this event, individuals were also able to witness a mesmerizing and intricate danza — a cultural dance tradition that members of the community performed. 

“We offer all different types of danzas,” stated Red, a member of the Kalpilli Ayolopaktzin. “The one that I offer is to the sun and includes all four elements, praying to elements and asking for the elements to bless us.”

Although this activity was engaging for guests and participants, it held a deeper, more significant meaning for the Indigenous community present. Red described the experience as “a way of joining in with Community, [and as] an act of resistance and resilience. It is also a celebration of joy and life.” Their use of customary instruments and cohesive movements made the danza experience engaging for all.

There was also a spiritual healing meal offered to every guest present at the event. The menu included a blue corn buffalo brisket tamale with squash succotash, salad, blue corn mush dessert with berries and agave syrup and sumac berry lemonade.

 According to Ariana Fuentes, food sovereignty coordinator for the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project, “We tried to incorporate pre-colonial food” stated Fuentes. “We wanted to highlight some of the region’s native foods that the people have been eating since the beginning of time.” 

Although there were many fun activities and experiences this event had to offer, the holiday held a more profound meaning for guests and participants. A sad and oppressive history surrounds Indigenous communities, as they’ve suffered from relocation, deculturalization and inadequate representation. This celebration was the perfect way for individuals to show their commitment to protecting Indigenous culture and lands. The event demonstrated the community’s strength and unity. Many people shared about their positive experiences at this welcoming celebration and its significance in their community.

“I get to be in community with our indigenous siblings to celebrate our thrivance, our resistance, our survival,” stated UTSA Associate Professor in Mexican American studies, Lilliana Saldaña. “We get to celebrate that we are still here after 500 years of colonial imposition and colonial destruction. The destruction of so much of what we had, and we continue to indigenize our knowledge, to indigenize our relationships with the earth and with each other.”

Undoubtedly, this celebration presented the strength of the San Antonio Indigenous community. Whether it was the coordinators, vendors, guests or other participants, a strong sense of unity brought everyone together.

Carpenter even stated, “For me, everything is connected, and that’s what everything here is. We’re all connected, we’re all one family, one tribe, one people from the same creator.”

This event certainly held a deeper meaning than just a fun celebration for the indigenous people in San Antonio, as it was a way for an oppressed, underrepresented community to show their pride for their culture, their traditions and their people.

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About the Contributors
Naydine De La Fuente, Copyediting Coordinator
Naydine De La Fuente (she/her) is an English major with a double concentration in professional and creative writing with a minor in communication. She joined The Paisano during the spring 2023 term in order to indulge in her passion for writing. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in journalism or publishing in hopes to utilize her writing skills. Outside of the organization, she enjoys reading, journaling and spending time with friends, family and her dog.
Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Lauren (she/her) is a second year English student at UTSA. After graduation she plans on attending law school. Outside of The Paisano you can usually find her at a concert taking pictures, hiking in the woods, watching movies or thrifting with her sister.

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