Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000 Page: 20
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Before 1844, perhaps in 1829, the
river again destroyed the mission,
which was rebuilt nearby with the
same foundation stones. How that affected
the old pueblo is unknown. In
1832-33, the river cut a new channel
to the south, and gradually abandoned
the old one. Until 1850, both channels
flowed, which created a long and
narrow island that included the Lower
Valley communities of Ysleta,
Socorro, and Elizario. Following the
1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
which terminated the war with
Mexico, the main stream of the Rio
Grande became the international
boundary. Thus, the three Lower Valley
pueblos were within U.S. territory,
while Senec Pueblo was on the Mexican
side of the river.
In 1901, Dr. Jesse Fewkes, an anthropologist
from the Smithsonian Institution,
visited Ysleta Indian pueblo,
which by that time had become dispersed
and was situated east of the old
mission. The tribal chief, Jos6 Tolino
Piarote, informed Fewkes that the old
Indian pueblo had been adjacent to
the cemetery and east of Old Pueblo
Road. He recalled that the Indian
houses were arranged in rectangular
form about a plaza.
The earliest known image of Ysleta
is a sketch, dated June 9,1862, by A.B.
Peticolas, a retreating Confederate
soldier with Victoria's Invincibles. His
drawing depicts the mission in the background
with a two-story structure in the
right foreground, which was the southern
portion of the old pueblo. The pueblo's location
is consistent with the site described
by the old cacique to Fewkes in 1901.
The site of the old pueblo also is corroborated
by a map that was prepared in
1879 to help adjudicate a case seven years
earlier involving cattle smuggling. It was
based upon the 1852 Jos6 Salazar y Larrequi
Map of the International Boundary. Although
not identified in the accompanying
text, the map includes an outline of
the pueblo, which was opposite the church.
It is likely that this outline of the pueblo
was derived from the 1852 map.
Several photographs of Ysleta del Sur
Pueblo, taken in the late 1870s, belong t6
the Aultman Collection in the El Paso
Public Library. The images, by an unknown
photographer, are of a multi-tiered pueblo
that resembles Taos Pueblo in northern
New Mexico. Site verification was made
by Tigua elders, who identified the woman
in the photographs as Nestora Piarote, a
prominent Tigua potter. The images include
the church's conical dome, which was
begun in 1877 and completed in 1897. No
old photographs of other Rio Grande pueblos
include a dome. Nestora Piarote stands
before a Spanish colonial building in a
companion photograph, which has been
identified as the historic AldereteCandelaria
house, now incorporated
within the tribal restaurant.
The foundation of the old pueblo is
discernable in a 1919 aerial photograph
taken by Lieutenant Edgar A. Liebhauser
of the Fort Bliss Army Air Corps. The fuzzy
image was made with a box camera from
an altitude of 5,000 feet. The shape of the
old pueblo foundation is identical to that
in the 1897 cattle trespass map.
The Tigua Indians continued to reside
in the old pueblo, opposite the mission,
until the early 1880s. In 1871 the town of
Ysleta (i.e., the entire grant) was incorporated
by non-Indians who quickly began
to acquire the grant lands. This quasi-legal
incorporation appears to have been a
tribe has maintained
as a pueblo
land scheme that was devised to divest
the Indians from the Ysleta Grant.
The Indians gradually lost possession
of the old pueblo and relocated to small
tracts north of the mission, creating a
dispersed pueblo. The oral history recalls
that a pueblo was located several
blocks north of Ysleta Mission, which
was the offshoot of the old pueblo. This
has been corroborated by deed records
and other historical documents.
As result of the 1871 incorporation,
self-sufficient Indian farmers lost their
farm lands and became day laborers and
domestics, dependent on a cash
economy. Indians frequently lost land
from tax foreclosure and debts, while
others were removed from the land by
the Town of Ysleta because they possessed
no title papers.
Old Ysleta Pueblo was a victim of
non-Indian encroachment. For two
centuries, it had survived as a compact
and autonomous Indian community.
Although the old pueblo, adjacent to
the mission, was abandoned by the
Tiguas more than 100 years ago, the
tribe has maintained its identity as a
pueblo that is both dynamic and creative.
The recent resurgence of the Indians
to control their own affairs is
manifest in the tribe's involvement in
community affairs and the local
economy. Today, in a spirit of
reconnection, the Tigua Indians are
gradually reclaiming their past.
Nicholas P. Houser is tribal archivist/anthropologist
for Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.
HERITAGE * 20 * SUMMER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 3, Summer 2000, periodical, Summer 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45389/m1/20/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.