hannah gentiles

El Polvo/Redford 150th Anniversary

The Field Trip - an extended family reunion of sorts, remembrance & 150th anniversary of the modern settlement of El Polvo - today known as Redford, TX - happened last Saturday. The event brought many new visitors to the area, most of which are descendants of those who inhabited the El Polvo region going back generations — a rare & sacred occasion.

Bert Lujan initiated the event from his home in Idaho- aiming to finally visit the place that holds much ancestral significance for his family. In the process, he picked up an increasing amount of followers on the Facebook page he’d created. On the page, contagious energy built as new followers joined, anxiously sharing their familial bridging - inevitably connecting with a new distant or not-so-distant relative. The history of this stretch along the Rio Grande is vast & in many ways, unknown. This has left much of the research to the curious descendants & a handful of local historians/archeologists & enthusiasts to discover & protect it.

The local event began with a ceremonial sage smudging on the lawn of the Presidio Activity Center. Once inside - a series of speakers would provide historical information about the region to encourage discussion & learning across the board as well as a group discussion on how to begin marking the multitude of graves that exist scattered throughout the region, which are quickly disappearing - thanks to Gabriel Acosta. Local cantaloupe seeds were also handed out to those with land in the area to encourage a resurgence of local cantaloupe farms.

The energy of the FB group translated equally to the gathering, with stories shared, curiosities answered & drawing ancestral lines between each other.

The event hit the road around lunchtime, traveling to The Redford Community Center, where current Redford resident - Becky & family had prepared a delicious Asado lunch. And then, the group collectively visited various historical sites, including a church built in 1914, a hilltop cemetery, and the ruins of Camp Polvo. 

The Field Trip - Family Reunion & 150th El Polvo/Redford Anniversary. See this week’s @bigbendsentinel for a more in-depth recounting of the events of The Field Trip written by Sam Karas. Here is a snippet from that article: “For Harley, wearing traditional clothes all over the world is a powerful gesture. “We’ve been doing a lot more to put our name out there & say, ‘Hey, we’re actually a tribe. We’re not extinct.’”
She & her mom would like to return to Polvo alone sometime, to sit & be still, to listen to the sound of the river.
Learning to accept the past on its own terms is an important part of the Flores family philosophy. “People always say they want to change history nowadays — they want to knock down statues, they want to get rid of this, they want to get rid of that,” Elizabeth said. “History is there for a reason. Not to glorify or worship it — it’s there for you to learn from it.” - Sam Karas for the Big Bend Sentinel/Presidio International  

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