Judge Ruben Becerra, the first Hispanic County Judge, has formed the “Council for the Indigenous and Tejano Community” (CITC) to facilitate the community’s desire to address the multitude of undertold and un-told Indigenous and Tejano stories. Submitted photos
Hays County Judge Creates Historical Council
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra formed the Council for the Indigenous and Tejano Community (CITC) in response to a community desire to address a multitude of undertold and untold Indigenous and Tejano stories.
According to Becerra’s Office, CITC’s mission is to preserve the history, traditions and rich culture of Indigenous and Tejano people of Hays County through oral histories, art and culture. They plan to work closely with the Indigenous Cultures Institute throughout their process.
“I am creating this council because much help is needed in telling these stories,” Becerra said.
CITC was established less than two weeks after the Hays County Commissioners Court approved members of the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC), despite an outcry of public commenters concerned about a lack of diversity and equity in the selection process. Many including indigenous people of the Miakan-Garza Band said the applications of previous members comprising the Tejano Committee were not accepted.
The public commenters asked for a delay in the approval until they could receive a public information request from Hays County detailing the process for selection.
HCHC Chair Kate Johnson said the selection process considered past attendance records, number of volunteer hours, level of participation in meetings and events, level of interest and knowledge of Hays County and historic preservation.
She said the Tejano Committee continues to be one of the most important committees they have and they are working on creating an African American History Committee as well.
In the end, the slated members were approved with a 3-2 vote and Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe and Becerra voting no.
Judge Becerra appointed Gina Alba-Rogers as CITC chair and Irma Gaitan as vice-chair who have previously served on HCHC and worked on Las Mutualista Cuauhtmoc historical marker and the fallen Roque de la Portilla marker.
Alba-Rogers’ ancestor was the first registered birth in Hays County in 1903 and Gaitan is a third generation Mutualista and organizer for Danza Matlachine.
The additional founding members of the CITC include Becerra; Maria Rocha, director of the Indigenous Cultures Institute; Frank Arredondo, a fifth generation Hays County resident and former Mayor of San Marcos; Bobbie Garza-Hernandez, former executive director of Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos whose family has resided in Hays County for seven generations; along with Anita Azenet Collins, a first generation Tejana and award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker.
The CITC now seeks undertold Indigenous and Tejano stories that meet the criteria established by the Texas Historical Commission. Undertold stories are stories whose topics are of an undertold, or untold, aspect from Hays County history, that will significantly enrich Hays County’s history.
Not only will the CITC pursue new Undertold Historical Markers, but will also conduct oral histories, written stories, booklets with family stories, cultural education and arts projects.
“We are here to empower the storytelling of the Indigenous and Tejano people from our community,” Becerra said.
Residents who are interested in Indigenous and Tejano history, arts and cultural education and who want to actively participate in this group are encouraged to call the County Judge’s Office at 512-393-2205 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or the Chair at email@example.com.
This story has been updated since its first publication