Running Turtle Salazar’s Speech Sparks Community Engagement

On May 09, Larry Running Turtle Salazar, a prominent figure in the Indigenous rights movement, delivered a stirring speech at the YWCA in Corpus Christi. With a focus on his own background and the often-overlooked history of the city’s original inhabitants, the Karankawa people, Running Turtle mesmerize the audience with his sincere advocacy.

Salazar, who’s name his people received in 1836 during the Indian Removal Act, began by sharing personal anecdotes, detailing his upbringing.

“My first indication that there was a problem with who I am was in the first grade when the teachers cut my hair and took my medicine bag, which upset my mother,” Salazar recalls.

In most indigenous cultures, long hair symbolizes strength, personal growth, spirituality, among other beliefs. To cut an Indigenous person’s hair without consent is one of the highest forms of disrespect within their community.

Salazar continued to state when the Beetles became popular in the 1960s, is when he embraced his long hair once again. “Thank God for the Beetles,” Salazar continued, “My mom would help a lot at home continuing our traditions with songs and words.”

As an active Indigenous rights advocate, Running Turtle highlighted ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities, including land rights, and cultural preservation.

“Corpus Christi has this burial ground, it’s the second largest, in the state of Texas. 41NU2 by archeology terms means 41 is the US map of Texas. NU is Nueces County, and the number 2 is the second largest,” stated Salazar.

Salazar claims someone from Corpus Christi Caller Times named Max Bear reached out to Salazar explaining the findings of an indigenous 13-year-old female to which Salazar felt the urge to visit the site to pray for her in 1994.

Director of the American Red Cross, Angie R. Garica was excited to attend. She had heard of Salazar’s work and wanted to hear from him in person.

“I was shocked about what I heard about the burial grounds and how big it is. I’m thinking to myself, ‘How did we not protect that area before industrializing it,” said Garcia.

Salazar kept his promise to honor her and any other desecrated indigenous body that was found. He has since been holding drum circles every last Saturday of the month as well as an annual march to bless the grounds on Ennis Joslin in January.

“This is what were up against. This is what I do every year. This is what I have been fighting for. I have always tried to do the best I can to preserve that area,” said Salazar.

The audience was deeply moved by Running Turtle’s powerful message, with many expressing gratitude for the opportunity to learn about Corpus Christi’s Indigenous heritage and the ongoing fight for justice. The event served as a reminder of the resilience and strength of Indigenous peoples, inspiring attendees to become more engaged in advocacy efforts and support initiatives aimed at uplifting Indigenous communities.

CEO President of YWCA Nancy Wesson-Dodd holds racial justice forums and talks through out the year.

“This is a way we can eliminate racism. The more we know about each other the more accepting we are. This is a diverse turnout. The most impressive thing that Salazar speaks about is from the heart. This was impactful. These are our ancestors. It’s important to move society forward by offering it in a pleasant open environment.”

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