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Members of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo visit Brown Middle to share Tigua history, culture


(BROWN MIDDLE SCHOOL -- Sept. 17, 2021) — The Brown Bulldogs recently got a visit from their friends at the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo to learn more about El Paso's rich Native American history and the traditions that have made the Tigua People a key component of El Paso's culture. 

For this lesson, Brown Middle School students closed their textbooks and listened to the deep rooted history of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo from a Native American community leader.

Ricardo Quezada, the Director for the Department of Cultural Preservation, visited Brown Middle School on Sept. 1, for an in-depth presentation on the Native American history of El Paso. Quezada performed a traditional Tigua song along with the beat of a hand-made drum and explained the cultural significance of several artifacts. Students were able to view the traditional garments that Tigua children wear and watch tribal dances performed by kindergartners on video. For more than 32 years, Quezada has served the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo community and earned a bachelor of arts degree in Anthropology from UTEP to help further his goal of preserving his tribe’s rich history, “It’s important for students to learn their roots, their El Paso history. To learn who we are we need to know where we are from,” he said. 

Here are five things you should know about the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo:

1. YDSP is the oldest Native American tribe in Texas.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo is a Native American tribe and sovereign nation. The tribal community known as ”Tigua” established Ysleta del Sur in 1682 and is the oldest of three federally recognized Native American tribes. In essence, YDSP is the oldest community in the state of Texas, as well as the oldest running government.

2. The native language Southern Tiwa is still practiced today.

During the Spanish occupation the Tiguas continued to share their oral histories, speak their native language and practice their ceremonies in secret and at night, far away from Spanish eyes. Today, the Southern Tiwa language is archived and is taught to children with the help of educational materials.

3. Captured by the Spanish and forced to walk 400 miles.

The Tigua settled in Isleta after leaving their homelands of Quarai Pueblo due to drought. They were later captured by the Spanish and forced to walk south for more than 400 miles. 


4. You can try their traditional bread at the Cultural Center.

You can visit the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center to view pottery, artwork and even grab a piece of their traditional bread on Saturday’s after 11 a.m. You can enjoy Native American dances and guided tours facilitated by Tigua youth. The Cultural Center and Museum is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.


5. Bring the field trip experience to your classroom.

Educators who are unable to plan a field trip to the Cultural Center can request a school educational visit. The Department of Cultural Preservation offers cultural programming to all grade levels. Contact Ricardo Quezada at or 915-859-7700.