Tigua Indians re-elect Governor Paiz, elect new Cacique
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo Statue | Photo By: Chad Horwedel – http://www.flickr.com/photos/chorwedel/
By Joe Olvera ©, 2010
A new year means a new election in the “Pueblo” community of Tigua Indians, an El Paso mainstay since 1682, following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in New Mexico. To start the new year, The Pueblo received honors from the Harvard School of Government, under its Honoring Nations program. The Tiguas were honored for their Project Pueblo: Economic Revitalization Project.
Only one surprise was noted on the annual New Year’s Eve election, however. That was the election of new Cacique, or Chief and Spiritual Leader for the Tribe in the person of Frank Holguin, 90. As tradition has it, he was elected to the life-long position after the death of former Cacique Santiago Bustamante, who had served in that position since the 1990s. He succumbed to a variety of illnesses at the age of 89. Elected officials serve only one year, but the Cacique serves for life – he is the cultural and spiritual leader of the tribe. Holguin was not available for comment on his new position.
The “Pueblo” is a U.S. federally recognized Native American tribe and sovereign nation. It is one of three tribes located in Texas, and the only Pueblo in the state. The tribal community known as “Tiguas” was established in 1682, with the maintaining of its traditional political system and ceremonial practices – it continues to flourish as a Pueblo community. Efforts are being made to improve the tribe’s financial condition with the re-opening of the Speaking Rock Casino.
Shut down by then Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, the tribe had made tremendous inroads in its economic development by providing more than 800 jobs to tribal members and members of the El Paso community, generating more than $800 million a year for such initiatives as health care, education, law enforcement, tribal courts, elder assistance, and the “general welfare of the tribe.”
Although efforts have been made by El Paso legislators to allow the casino to re-open, religious leaders have put a damper on that. Currently, Texas State Rep. Chente Quintanilla, District 75, has introduced legislation that will allow voters, rather than the Legislature, to decide on the future of the casino.
Some tribal members, however, are not so thrilled with the re-election of Paiz as Governor, because he sports a youthful criminal record. Paiz said in a previous interview that he was 18 years old when he was convicted of felony theft and misdemeanor criminal mischief. Prior to being elected Governor in 2008, defeating five-term incumbent Art Senclair, Paiz had been tribal sheriff.
Paiz was not available for comment, but, he explained that he is no longer the same person he was. “I did turn my life around,” Paiz told tribal members. “And the people can see who I am now, not who I was in the past. I’m a different person, I’ve demonstrated that I’m a true leader and I’m going to continue being a strong leader.”