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Competing cemetery proposals could impact Alamo remodeling

Competing cemetery proposals could impact Alamo remodeling

April 14th, 2019 by Associated Press in Texas News

In this July 7, 2015 photo, Epifanio Hernandez, left, and Adrian Ramirez, descendants of Native Americans, give blessing to the four corners of the earth as city leaders celebrate the announcement of the San Antonio's Spanish missions winning World Heritage Site status in front of The Alamo in San Antonio, Two competing requests to designate the Alamo in San Antonio as a Historical Texas Cemetery could change how the mission is remembered. The Texas General Land Office wants to have the Alamo church listed as a historic Texas cemetery, citing the names of three people buried there nearly a century before the 1836 battle. Another proposal from Native American groups seeks a much larger area be designated a cemetery at the revered site. (Bob Owen/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

SAN ANTONIO—Two competing requests to designate the Alamo in San Antonio as a Historical Texas Cemetery could change how the mission is
remembered.

The Texas General Land Office wants to have the Alamo church listed as a historic Texas cemetery, citing the names of
three people buried there nearly a century before the 1836 battle between Texas settlers and Mexican troops, the San Antonio Express-News
reported.

Another proposal from Native American groups wants a larger area to be designated a cemetery at the revered
site.

Neither is expected to stop a planned $450 million, public-private remodeling of Alamo
Plaza.

Alamo officials had previously disputed a notice for an unidentified cemetery filed by one of the tribal groups, the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation, citing the Texas Health and Safety Code. Now, the Land Office and Tap Pilam have opposing proposals with the Texas Historical Commission for a historical cemetery
designation.

The designation would help "restore reverence and dignity for the Alamo and the 1836 battlefield," said Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

"We have long known of human remains that lie buried inside of the church," Bush said in a news release. "The designation of
the Alamo church as a historic cemetery is yet another step forward in ensuring our defenders are respectfully
honored."

The Alamo mission is the site of a major battle between Texas settlers and Mexican troops in 1836 over the future of what is now the state of Texas. The mission was overrun and most of the settlers killed. "Remember the Alamo," became a rallying cry for American settlers in their fight for Texas independence from Mexico.

Ramn Vsquez, a leader in Native American groups that have clashed with the Land Office, and one of 26 members of the Alamo Citizen Advisory Committee, said his group issued a 70-page report detailing burials well outside the church.

"It shows that unbaptized Native Americans were buried beyond the walls of the mission," said Vsquez, executive director of the American Indians at Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions, a nonprofit launched by Tap Pilam. "It's not up to us to delineate the boundaries of cemeteries. All we're pointing out is that the cemetery is still there," he said.

Vsquez added the groups were blindsided by the Land Office's application in early April. He believes both proposals should be considered at the same
time.

The Texas Historical Commission could vote on the Texas General Land Office proposal this month.

The tribal groups' proposal is set for the commission's quarterly meeting July 25-26 in Paris,
Texas.

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