LAS CRUCES – A representative from one of the area’s indigenous peoples presented land recognition to the Las Cruces city council on Monday to celebrate the third annual Indigenous Peoples Day in New Mexico.
Diego Medina, a member of the Piro Manso Tiwa tribe, spoke on the history of the indigenous people of the Mesilla Valley on October 11 at the request of District 4 Councilor Johana Bencomo.
“Our Manso ancestors were the first community here in this area before the Pueblo revolt, who made this area their home and who cared for and nurtured it spiritually and ecologically through their kinship and cultural practices,” said Medina.
Medina informed the council that after the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, the Piro and Tiwa people immigrated to the Mesilla Valley from northern and central New Mexico to El Paso del Norte, now Ciudad Juarez.
As new groups moved in and settled in the Mesilla Valley and the El Paso region, Medina told the council that many pueblo communities were established, creating a rich mix of indigenous cultures in one area.
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When Las Cruces was first established, an official from the village of Doña Ana examined an area of more than 80 blocks as part of the parish’s original plating, an area now known as the Mesquite Historic District, the Sun News previously reported. Piro families were also among the applicants who raffled off properties. Las Cruces was founded in 1849.
“So we founded the city of Las Cruces and invited all members of our community to take care of this land with us,” said Medina. “It is important to acknowledge the historical changes that have taken place over time. And these historical changes have resulted in many exterminations and displacements of our tribesmen. Nevertheless, you know, the Piro people, the Tiwa people, the Manso people are all still here with us, in us, like us. “
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill in 2019 to replace Columbus Day, a holiday honoring the Italian explorer, with Indigenous Peoples Day in the state. President Joe Biden proclaimed October 11, 2021 Indigenous Peoples Day and officially recognized it as the first US President.
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“‘I am grateful to be able to say that here in the city of Las Cruces we recognize the Piro Manso Tiwa people as the original people of this land,” said Medina. “We acknowledge that our Manso ancestors were the first humans here in this valley, acknowledge all ancestors who came before us, all the way back to those footsteps in White Sands and probably before, and we have been here praying the whole time for the country to take care of singing songs for the country and to care for our community and to welcome you all to be part of our community too. “
Michael McDevitt is the city and county government reporter for Sun News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected] or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.