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Arts & Culture

Mission Tours From A Native Perspective

The World Heritage Designation has put San Antonio’s Missions into the spotlight. Soon there will be something that should give those Missions yet another important perspective.

“We plan on spending at least 40 minutes at each Mission. Concepcion, San Jose, Espada and finish up at San Juan,” said American Indians in Texas--Spanish Colonial Missions Executive Director Ramon Vasquez.

He's talking about a new set of tours his group is planning of four of the original five missions. They won't be touring the Alamo. He says that while there are presently many good tours, what they’re leaving out is important.

“That’s one that you won’t hear—is how sacred the Missions are today. Not because of the bricks and mortar. But because of the ancestral remains that are still associated with each one of the missions" said Vasquez. "Each one of them is still a burial site.”

Vasquez says their plan is to showcase many elements of native American Mission culture--music, dance, even clothing creation.

“And then the foods.  You’ll get a chance to taste some of the food.  And then maybe do a demonstration of some of the games the Mission Indians used to play.”

Vasquez cites late October to start the tours, and the perspective he’s hoping to share is that of the native Americans that the Franciscans were there to convert. That was the nature of Spanich Colonial America--to establish Missions to convert the indigenous people. That said, tours won’t be polarizing in nature.    

“What it will not be—it’s not a bashing Franciscan tour. Even to this day we have a relationship.”

A relationship that the direct Native American descendants now plan to use to finally tell their story