History of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo
Travel Down the Mission Trail
Scholars' Bookshelf
Missions Bibliography
Ysleta Bibliography
Roster of El Paso Area Tribal Leaders
Native American Water Use Chronology
Tigua Military History
Early Accounts & Bibliography
Tigua Participation at Texas State Fair
Dallas Exposition  
Hueco Tanks Mountain Memorial  
Texas Centennial Sponsors the Arts
Travel Links & More
Ysleta Land Grant Chronology
Acknowledgments / Resources
Texas Centennial Sponsors the Arts

Texas Centennial Sponsors the Arts

The centennial stimulated public arts and spawned paintings, murals, sculptures and plays about El Paso's rich multicultural heritage. Private and public monies, especially depression work programs supported artists and writers, some of whom would become nationally recognized such as Tom Lea. The art projects promoted the area's historical heritage and tourism.

The artists, whose works celebrated the centennial included Tom Lea Jr. and José Aceves. Carillo Gonzáles and Keith Martin. The paintings and drawings of Tom Lea, Leola Freeman, José Aceves, and Carillo Gonzales were prominently exhibited at the Texas Centennial Exposition. Lea’s large mural depicting the Texas cattle culture graced the wall of the Hall of State building at the Dallas exposition. His illustrations of centennial themes were featured in the Herald’s Texas Centennial Edition. In October 1936, the Mckee Construction Company completed construction of the Centennial Museum on the College of Mines. Above the building’s entrance, Tom Lea created a large sandstone lintel depicting Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions at the Pass of the North in 1537.

In August 1936, Damasio Colmenero, Tigua tribal cacique, posed for a large portrait oil painting by artist Keith Martin in the Paso del Norte Hotel. The portrait was publicized as a centennial activity. The painting was temporarily exhibited in the Paso de Norte Hotel where the artist had his studio.

Tigua History Celebrated

Newspaper writers made the public aware of the Tigua legacy. They included Cleofás Calleros, Marshall Hail, Joseph Ignatius Driscoll, Jeanie M. Frank and Betty Luther. The El Paso Diocese published Driscoll’s centennial booklet, El Paso the Land of Romance on its 400th birthday.

The Beginnings of Spanish Settlement in the El Paso District by Anne E. Hughes was reprinted by the El Paso Public School system in 1934 as a Texas Centennial Activity. The historical treatise, written in 1914, focused on the early history of the settlement in the El Paso region. Subsequently, it has been annotated and re-published by Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

Several centennial articles concerned the Tigua Indians. On August 24, 1935, Marshall Hail wrote a newspaper article entitled "Change of Priest at Ysleta Stirred Indians to Revolt." It concerned an event, which occurred in 1890 when Father M. Penella, S.J., assigned a secular curate to Ysleta Mission. Bishop Pierre Bourgade decided to remove the Jesuits from the El Paso area. The replacement infuriated the Tigua Tribe because they had not been consulted. As result of Indian opposition, Bishop Dunne was forced to reverse his decision.

J.N. Phillips wrote an article entitled "Early Day Ysleta Indian Band Save Spanish Deserters From Punishment." It included an oral history tradition that he had recorded from Manuel Ortega. It helped make the public aware of the tribe's contributions to the development of the region.

Centennial Markers Recognize Tigua History

The placement of commemorative markers was a major activity of the Texas Centennial. The El Paso County Advisory Board of the Texas Centennial Commission produced Stone and bronze plaques, funded by the state for $200 each. A few markers were privately financed by local civic organizations. During the centennial observance, at least twelve historical markers were installed within El Paso County.

Four markers within the region recognized Tigua contributions. All of these markers have survived. The State of Texas erected two markers at the Ysleta Mission commemorating Tigua Indian history. The Knights of Columbus donated a third marker at the mission. The fourth marker recognized the battle of Sierra Vieja near Valentine, Texas.

The Texas Centennial funded the marker at the Ysleta Mission, to recognize the founding of Ysleta Mission and pueblo as result of the 1680 Pueblo Indian Revolt in New Mexico. The State Historical Survey Commission, Texas Highway Department, Texas Society of Colonial Dames, and the Knights of Columbus authored the text. The plaque was unveiled in front of the Ysleta Mission on July 16, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, instead of on June 13th the feast day of San Antonio, the Tribal patron saint. It was dedicated on this date because the tribal delegation and Cleofás Calleros were attending the Texas Centennial Exposition from June 11 through the 13th.

The Texas State Council of the Knights of Columbus erected the second Ysleta Mission marker. Outlined on the stone vertical face is a design that features a patronizing image of a Tigua Indian kneeling before a Franciscan missionary. Above the image and text is a bas-relief of the mission landscape. The marker credited the Franciscans for founding the mission. The text honored the Church for "civilizing and Christianizing" the Tigua. The plaque referred to Ysleta as the first Indian and Spanish settlement in Texas, when in fact it was specifically an Indian pueblo and not a Spanish settlement.

Texas Centennial Ysleta Mission Marker

"Site of the first mission in Texas, Corpus Christi De La Ysleta Del Sur, founded in 1682 by Don Antonio de Otermin and Padre Fray Francisco Ayeta, O.F.M. for the civilizing and Christianizing of the Tigua Indians, Pueblo revolt refugees, formerly located at La Ysleta, New Mexico. Building damaged by floods of the Rio Grande and later by fire, but rebuilt on the exact site and in part on the walls of the original structure. Nearby was established the Pueblo of Ysleta, first Indian and Spanish settlement in Texas. Erected by the Texas State Council, Knights of Columbus in 1936."

Paso Viejo Battle Plaque

The historical marker that recognized Tigua valor at the battle of Paso Viejo was installed at that location on the Espy Miller Ranch near Van Horn. Simón Olguín, Tigua Pueblo Scout and six Buffalo Soldiers were killed on June 11, 1880, as result of an Apache Ambush at the pass (Houser, 2003:5:178-179; U.S. National Archives, 1880; Annual Report of the Secretary of War). The text plaque reads as follows. (The date is incorrect it should be June 11):

"In this Vicinity June 12, 1880, the Apaches made their last stand in Presidio County when four Pueblo Indian Scouts of General Benj. H. Grierson, U.S.A. fought and defeated 20 Apache Warriors. Erected by the state of Texas 1936".

Jack Shipman, local historian wrote the marker's text with the support of the Marfa Chamber of Commerce and the State of Texas. It was unveiled with a dedicatory ceremony, without Tigua Indian participation on March 6, 1938.

Mr. Shipman, program coordinator, remarked at the dedication that the Tigua Indians deserved recognition by the state. He stated in a letter to a member of the centennial organization: "I am indeed happy [that] the State of Texas has honored these valiant men with a marker. Wonder if you can find out if there are any of these Pueblo scout's descendents living in Ysleta now?"