PRESERVING TIGUA CULTURE
The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which drove Spanish colonists and Christianized Indians from New Mexico, was a seminal event in Southwestern history. Tiguas from Isleta Pueblo near Albuquerque fled with Spanish missionaries and in 1682 formed a new community in present-day El Paso. They called it Ysleta del Sur, or Little Island of the South. It’s the oldest settlement in present-day Texas and the only Indian pueblo in the state.
The Tiguas constructed a mission church at the pueblo and dedicated it to Saint Anthony of Padua. Over time the church has borne several names and been destroyed and rebuilt after floods and fires. Popularly called Ysleta Mission, it’s a must-see stop along El Paso’s Lower Valley Mission Trail. The whitewashed adobe structure’s graceful parapet and silver-domed bell tower stand out against clear blue skies. Yselta del Sur Pueblo is recognized by the U.S. government as a Native American tribe and sovereign nation. The Tigua Indian Cultural Center on site welcomes visitors for performances of tribal dances and to sample round loaves of bread baked in horno ovens. You can tour the center’s museum, and browse gift shops for authentic pueblo pottery, art and jewelry. Annual public events include the May Pow Wow, June Feast of Saint Anthony, and November Indian Market.