Public Theatre San Antonio Land Acknowledgment
made at a special event on Wednesday, February 16 marking the beginning of The Public Theater's commitment to uplifting the voices of local indigenous people and acknowledging their contributions to the commitment. The presentation included Isaac “Papa Bear” Alvarez Cardenas, Spiritual Leader of the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation, a leader and cultural bearer of the American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, and a statement read by Executive Artistic Director Claudia De Vasco.
The Public Theater of San Antonio is housed in the historic San Pedro Playhouse, serving as its current stewards and lead organization after a 100 year history of leaders. For years, the companies of this theater have proudly promoted the rich history of the building, the plays produced here, and all the patrons it has served. The acknowledgment of the history of the land and its original inhabitants of the sacred park in which the San Pedro Playhouse sits has been long overdue. The following statement is a first-step in the process of connecting our theater to the history that predated it and honoring the contributions of the indigenous inhabitants who laid the foundation for the abundance of blessings that enable us to prosper and sustain our livelihood today and in the future.
We acknowledge this place known to us as Yanaguana as the traditional homeland of many Native American peoples who are called Coahuiltecan by Spanish records. 200 tribes/bands/clans were documented in historical records and include the Payaya, Paguame, Jarame, Pompopa, and Borrado, as well as many other aboriginal peoples such as the Esto’k Gna (Carrizo-Comecrudo) who continue to carry their traditional lifeways. We acknowledge these various Indigenous communities as the traditional people of this land now called San Antonio, Texas.
We acknowledge this homeland that would later include Comanches and Lipan Apaches in the 1700's, as a place that is now home to nearly 30,000 Urban Indians spanning from tribes across the North, Central, and South America who continue to sustain their traditional languages and customs.
We acknowledge that the six flags which have flown over this city during the last 300 years have never fully honored Indigenous people, who continue to be excluded from processes that directly affect their cultural traditions, ancestors and future descendants.
We acknowledge the willingness of our communities to seek healing for all the harms of colonization which are still present in San Antonio, reflected in the unequal distribution of resources, housing, education, and access to healthcare.
We acknowledge the opportunity to promote equity by centering the needs of Native peoples in decisions regarding public policy, service delivery, and distribution of resources in a manner that accounts for historical realities.
We acknowledge the resiliency, tenacity, and ability of Native Americans to survive, heal and thrive despite the systemic oppression they have faced and commit to celebrating their successes.
We acknowledge the San Antonio River as Yanaguana, (Spirit Waters in the Pajala’t language) as the source of life for this city and commit to protecting her, all her tributaries and connected waters and this land called Texas as Somi Sek to the Esto’k Gna people who are called Carrizo-Comecrudo by the spanish, today and for future generations.
We acknowledge this place of abundant rivers, springs, caves, desert and hill country as being inhabited consistently for over 12,000 years by people who left their marks as stories on rocks as petroglyphs for remembrance and as codes for storytelling and timekeeping.
Through this acknowledgment we honor that our historic theater, the San Pedro Playhouse, sits on sacred land that has witnessed both the vibrant culture and traumatic history of oppression of the Indigenous people of this region. We understand that land acknowledgment alone does not suffice as reparation for the injustices faced by the first people of this land, and we commit ourselves to uplifting the voices of indigenous artists, as well as being good stewards of this sacred park.