Almost 20 years ago, road construction crews unearthed the remains of a 13-year-old Comanche girl during expansion on Ennis Joslin.
As archaeologists were called in to remove the remains, the scene caught the attention of Larry Running Turtle Salazar, who immediately received a phone call from a Caller-Times reporter.
“They thought I’d be angry, or curse, or whatever they thought I was going to be. … I was going over there to ask for forgiveness,” Running Turtle said. “The way they knew it was a Comanche young lady was because of the shimmery objects that were around her, and the type of beadwork, and so on and so forth.”
This was not the first such case. Unknown to many residents, Corpus Christi was discovered to be the second largest Native American burial site in Texas as nearly 5,000 Native American bodies have been found from SPID to Ocean Drive since the 1930s.
Initially, Running Turtle was inclined to have the name Ennis Joslin changed to Sacred Spirit Trail.
“Then, we decided to build a monument,” he said. “Since it’s the second largest (burial site), and yet there’s nothing to commemorate the people that have been here.”
The $300,000 monument will be a holy ancestor in his feather headdress, pointing toward the east. “Ishka,” the name of the monument, is an Apache word for “I’ll see you again.” When the holy man faces east on the Ennis Joslin burial ground site, this is what he will represent to the indigenous population of Corpus Christi.
Cheyenne Garza, Del Mar student and Mescalero-Apache descendant, believes it would be beneficial for Corpus Christi to adopt this monument.
“We’re not discriminated against, but we’re not recognized very much,” she said. “My culture is not recognized very much.”
This monument has been a project Running Turtle and his team have been working on and funding autonomously with very little outside help and small grants for nearly two decades. Running Turtle can also be found at the Corpus Christi Trade Center, selling hand-made Native American goods. The team, however, has its struggles; of the $300,000 goal, only $22,000 is available.
“It’s an uphill battle,” said Teresa Klein, associate history professor at Del Mar College. “Not as many people are bringing attention to this and it’s very, very important.”
“This is going to be a tourist attraction — it’s going to bring out tourist dollars and create quite a bit of respect for that area, above all,” Running Turtle said.
Anyone interested in donating to the monument can contact Running Turtle at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate at their website, http://ishkamonument.webs.com/.