Monday, January 17, 2022

Indio pata rajada (indian with a cut foot)

A derogatory word in Mestizo culture, some have learned to embrace native heritage.

Juan Mancias, VSTX | Jul 11, 2012

The flag of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas (Juan Mancias)

I have heard this terminology since I was young boy. I was called indio pata rajada, Indian with a cut foot, since I can remember. It is a deragotive term in Spanish directed to indigenous people who have maintained their identity, or still look very much "indian." So, I figured that if I set out to research this term, I would  come to a determination to satisfy my trauma about the awful misconception associated with it.

As a child I would see my relatives with the bottom of their feet cut and dragging on the ground. Their feet were all dusty, dirty, their hair matted, they urinated on themselves. Because we were Carrizo/Comecrudos, I was always reminded that we were Indian, or "indio." I was one of the darkest in the family.  

So, my searching for the term originated with my own experience as an “indio.” The information I gathered from my grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and older cousin always led me to my identity of  being Carrizo/Comecrudo. Our stronghold, being the Rio Grande, because Ahamatau Mete’l pase’l, (meaning “river of spirit life.”), gave life and identity as well. It was always about being part of water, or water being part of our life.

My probing for a meaning to the term indio pata rajada brought me to books written by Weston La Barre, Omar Stewart, and Martin Salinas. Martin Salinas wrote a book that simply researched the Texas Indians and those of Northeastern Mexico. As you read the book of Salinas entitled, Indians of the Rio Grande Delta, you become aware of the presence of the Carrizo/Comecrudo number in Texas. Salinas makes reference to the Carrizo/Comecrudo as people that were barefoot and that lived from the Gulf Coast up through the Rio Grande. Although Salinas’ book is one of the best identifying language groups, he fails to clarify the language issue clearly. Salinas does point out the fact in the book that the Carrizo/Comecrudo were the most densly populated and largest tribe in South Texas.

On his first expedition to the area between 1519 to 1539, Spanish Govenor of Jamaica Francisco Garay forded the Rio Grande and identified the large number of footsteps where a large ceremonial dance had taken place. The footsteps of barefeet seem to be indicative of the tribal people of the area in South Texas. In recorded language documents in 1886, the Carrizo/Comecrudo are identified as the  “barefoot” people by the Kiowa.  People of Dance identified the Carrizo/Comecrudo. Dance was outlawed by the newly arrived priest and Spanish Inquisition representatives of the time. The Papal Bull of 1512 had already set all indigenous people as "Godless heathens."

The famos indian, Belo Cozad, who went to live with the Kiowa (Apaches), yet he was Carrizo/Comecrudo. The picture can be found at the Smithsonian showing him as Carrizo Captive.

The picture is of Belo Cozad, who went to live with the Kiowa (Apaches), yet he was Carrizo/Comecrudo. The picture can be found at the Smithsonian showing him as Carrizo Captive. (Smithsonian)

So, the barefoot people were identified as controversial troublemakers that were to be converted, no matter the means. I have witnessed a petroglyph drawing in a cave near Post, Texas. on Highway 84/62. The drawing shows the priests and soldiers cutting the feet, hands and heads of indigenous people in the missions of Texas. Yes, feet were cut off so as the neophytes, or slaves of encomeindas, would not escape the oppressive conversion to Catholicism. Encomiendas were the first plantations in Texas, that story is to come in future writings.

Yes, "indios patas rajadas" maybe a derogatory statement in Spanish, but it is also racist and demeaning to the human spirit. For this statement also began the deterring journey of being an indigenous person with a connection to a people with culture and tradition: our ancestors. Our ancestors that for what they really believed and who they were, were tortured, belittled, raped and murdered. They suffered to maintain and preserve what we have today in language, customs, and most of all, teachings. For their perseverance and resiliency we must be able to remember and practice our ways according to our ancestral lifeway’s teachings.  

I want to be able to say I am Esto’k (eshtaa’K), for I remember my own "indios patas rajadas," and someday I will have a monument for their courage and dedication to Texas indigenous identities that have not been deterred even by today’s poorly educated educators. For now, I am proud to be that monument, standing alone but tall in sharing the stories of great men and women who were able to hand down such great cultural teachings.

I am Esto’k pai kai, Esto’k kua’k Iyopem. If you wish to call me "indio pata rajada," then I will wear it as medal of honor, for I stand with my ancestors as well as my people. I am willing to keep my people’s language alive, my people’s lifeways alive, and my people alive.

We just finished the first of several dances that have been practiced for years, our Harvest Dance, and will do some more. We are here and we were not the "heathens." We were just Esto’k; human beings.

Reburial ceremony

A Carrizo/Comecrudo reburial ceremony. (Juan Mancias)


Ayema Payase’l

Juan Mancias
July 4th, 2012


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