Letters to the Editor
The open records request deadline passed and still no responses! What are they hiding? For as long as people can remember the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC) has included persons interested in the county’s history, including families with deep roots in Hays County and Texas. This did not stop membership at the Hays County line. Now, after trying to tell Tejano and Indigenous history instead of allowing our history to be shared, the HCHC resorted to technicalities to try and quiet committee members. And what they did was they had discussions about changing the bylaws to make it harder for those who have been deeply committed to Hays County’s Tejano and Indigenous history to participate and share our stories. This is new and we know the reason why they decided to silence the Tejano Committee, effectively they removed them all and denied membership to qualified applicants including the director of a recognized Texas Native American tribe, the Miakan-Garza Band.
Thirty-five applications were received by the HCHC for the 2021-2022 term. The commission although operating with 29 members reduced membership to 25. The HCHC granted only five Hispanics, one African American and 19 Anglos to tell the history of the longest continually inhabited area of North America and the cradle of Indigenous People in central Texas. Ten Tejano and Indigenous People applied, and qualified applicants were denied membership. This was a missed opportunity to include highly credentialed Native American representation on the HCHC. More importantly, there was no attempt to increase the Tejano/Hispanic representation. According to the 2019 U.S. Census, the Hays County population represents 40% Hispanic, 1.2% American Indian, 4.6% African American and 52.5% White (not Hispanic). Even so, only five Tejanos (or 20%) and nineteen Anglos (76%) with one African American (4%) received membership to the HCHC. HCHC claims the Tejano History Committee is very important, yet it failed again to follow through with concrete action in its membership rolls. Instead eight new Anglo Applicants were granted membership, yet only three new Tejano Applicants were given a seat at the table.
By their vote, Hays County Commissioners Mark Jones (Pct. 2), Lon Shell (Pct. 3) and Walt Smith (Pct. 4) endorsed this proposed HCHC membership. Even after a community outpouring of letters and emails were sent to them to suspend the recommended members until an Open Records Request was satisfied to review and compare the applications. Only Commissioner Ingalsbe and Judge Becerra voted no and in support of waiting until the records request was complete.
This is just more of the same from the HCHC where instead of seriously debating Texas history, HCHC’s only strategy is to silence people who disagree with them. And, in the course of this exercise, the HCHC succeeded in removing the Tejano Committee who researched and submitted successful applications for historical markers for Cuauhtémoc Hall and the Alba Ranch. Why would the HCHC not renew these hardworking, dedicated and seasoned volunteers and replace them with Tejanos with no experience or who do not meet the qualifications and attendance criteria? And why would commissioners Jones, Shell, and Smith endorse the HCHC membership list which removed Indigenous and Tejano voices from telling Hays County’s history.
Because the Hays County General Counsel failed to meet the Jan. 7, 2021 deadline, we are unable to provide more information on the open records request filed by the Indigenous Cultures Institute. This failure of the General Counsel is not surprising when we witnessed his inability at the commissioners court meeting on Jan. 5 to adequately respond to questions and his blatant disregard of the current HCHC bylaws. It is our hope that the commissioners court will provide opportunities for the public to review and comment on these proposed bylaw changes before the commissioners court approves them. This is important so the community can make their own assessment regarding whether the bylaws are equitable and just; or whether systemic discrimination and bias exists in its rules.
This is a public commission that must operate with transparency. Our community deserves disclosure and truth. In the meantime, we will continue to seek additional information to help us understand the proceedings of the Hays County Historical Commission.
Hays County Native and Resident
What happened on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol was one of the most shameful days in American history. Donald Trump, the leader of the executive branch stood in front of a mob that gathered on his command and ordered an attack on the legislative branch. The express purpose was to stop the certification of his successor. Trump said he would lead the way but like all cowards, he was nowhere to be found once the insurrectionists attacked our government. These domestic terrorists attacked police, broke through barricades, and desecrated the United States Congress. Members of Congress and Trump’s own Vice President were forced to flee from this violent group. It was a despicable scene that the whole world watched as the American experiment teetered on the brink. The images are shocking, appalling, disgusting, and maddening. Trump would later tell his mob to go home but praised them and said he loved them. As of this writing, five people have died including a police officer from the riot, due to a deranged outgoing president, the billion-dollar echo chamber which repeats his lies, and the unprincipled politicians (like our own Sen. Cruz) who have enabled him. Donald Trump, if he had an ounce of grace, would resign in shame and knuckle drag his way back to Florida. Since he is incapable of introspection, he should be impeached again, before his reprehensible reign is over. Once out of office, he should be charged for inciting a riot against the United States government. You either stand for American democracy and the rule of law, or you do not. Shame on anyone for still supporting this dangerous, unlawful, and anti-American president.
Texas State University