The Rediscovery of the Tiguas: Federal Recognition
and Indianness in the Twentieth Century
JEFFREY M. SCHULZE*
IN THE MID-1960S, EL PASO ATTORNEY TOM DIAMOND APPROACHED A
park ranger at Grand Quivira National Monument in New Mexico and
inquired about the "Tiwa" or "Tigua" Pueblo Indians, whose oral tradi-
tion held that the location of the monument was their tribe's birthplace.
The ranger replied, "I think you'll find the Tiwas of Ysleta del Sur no
longer exist," to which Diamond responded, "I know, but the Tiwas
don't know they no longer exist."' The residents of the "Barrio de los
Indios" in El Paso, Texas, had only very recently enlisted Diamond to
provide legal representation as the "tribe" fought state-imposed taxation
measures that threatened to dislocate the small community from its
"reservation." Diamond pursued the claim in good faith despite the
commonly held belief that the tribe had long since ceased to exist, and
ultimately found himself embroiled in the Tiguas' struggle for federal
acknowledgment and government protection, an effort that would span
nearly three decades.
When Tom Diamond and the Tiguas undertook the federal acknowl-
edgment process, they did so with little in the way of precedent. In fact,
it was not until 1979 that the federal government had in place a com-
prehensive list of federally acknowledged tribes, an established set of
criteria for obtaining federal recognition, and a definition of ambigu-
ous terms such as "recognize" and "acknowledge." This development in
federal Indian policy marks the culmination of what attorney William
Quinn Jr. has described as a gradual shift from cognitive to jurisdictional
tribal recognition, or a new emphasis on legal and political existence
* Jeffrey M. Schulze currently resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at
Southern Methodist University. His interests include Native American, U.S.-Mexican borderlands,
and American western history. The author would hke to acknowledge the efforts of Sherry L.
Smith, whose careful reading and thoughtful suggestions improved this article beyond measure.
"Prepared Statement of Ronald D. Coleman," Hearing Before the Select Committee on Indzan
Affairs, U.S. Senate, 83rd Cong., 2nd sess.,June 25, 1986, 29.
SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. CV, NO. 1
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed May 2, 2016.