Border wall vs. sacred land

Local News

(Source: KGBT Photo)

As preparation for border wall construction continues, there are concerns of burial grounds being exhumed.

Juan Mancias, tribal leader of the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas, reflected on Eli Jackson Cemetery, a site rich in history.

“This is a historical site that’s important not just to us as native people, but to people that pioneered this state,” said Mancias.

According to Commissioner Eugene Fernandez of the Cameron County Historical Commission, Eli Jackson came to the Valley from Alabama.

“Eli Jackson came in from Alabama from a mixed-race consideration in his family,” said Fernandez. “Started a community here and his decedents did real well in the community.”

As the government continues to negotiate funding for border security, stakes placed near the property has people like Mancias thinking the burial grounds will be taken over.

“The orange flags over there that’s how far they’re coming out to this thing,” said Mancias. “So, all of this has to be exhumed and they we’re going to do it without anybody knowing about it.”

But according to Border Patrol, that is not the case.

“We do conduct real estate surveys to find out property boundaries and see who owns what,” said Agent Jason Montemayor, Special Operations Supervisor for the RGV Wall Project Delivery Team. “That does not mean that we’re going to go through that area.”

Despite concerns of the cemetery, Fernandez says there is no chance of it being disturbed.

“This cemetery is an unusual one in that it is so close to the levee and that of course is the right of way that has been granted by U.S. Boundary and Water Commission for the proposed wall,” explained Fernandez. “But of all the talking that I’ve done with the powers that be from the Border Patrol Sector, there is no chance that this will be bulldozed at all.”

Montemayor adds that Customs and Border Protection is not disturbing any burial grounds or sacred land.

“At this time, there are no plans to construct border wall adjacent to the Eli Jackson Cemetery,” said Montemayor.

A plan Mancias hopes the agency sticks to.

“Yes please, don’t touch it anymore,” said Mancias.

As negotiations over border funding continue, there have been people camping at Eli Jackson Cemetery to maintain and preserve the landmark.

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