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Friday, October 25, 2019

State of Texas Fires Back at Native Americans' Lawsuit Asking for Input on Human Remains at the Alamo

Posted By on Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 12:21 PM

  • Robert Plemme / Public Domain
The State of Texas has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation alleging that the Alamo's overseers cut Native Americans out of deciding how to deal with human remains at the site.

Texas' General Land Office and the nonprofit Alamo Trust argue in documents filed this week that the Tap Pilam want "preferential treatment" by asking to be part of the archeological review. The Native American group sued in September, alleging the state violated its members' civil rights by excluding them.

The legal battle unfolds amid a $450 million renovation of Alamo Plaza. This month, an archaeological team revealed it had unearthed human remains at during an excavation at the site.

Before the Alamo's defenders battled Mexican troops, the site served as a Catholic mission. Around 1,300 people, including Native Americans, were buried on the property, Tap Pilam maintains in its suit.

According to the General Land Office filing, Ramon Vasquez — a Tap Pilam member — already sits on the Alamo Citizens Advisory Committee, which oversees redevelopment of the site. What's more, granting seats to every ethnic group with "next of kin" status to people buried at the Alamo would result in an "impossibly large and unworkable committee," the state argues.

However, during a rally across from the Alamo earlier this month, Vasquez and others said the state needs to slow down the process and officially declare the former mission a cemetery, Texas Public Radio reports.

“We need to just stop,” Vasquez said. “We need to stop right now and reassess the situation. You’re digging on top of a cemetery. You’re going to find remains.”

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