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.
Ramón Vásquez, 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 Vásquez, 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.
Vásquez 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.