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Yanaguana, Lower Pecos Rock Art, and Indigenous History of San Antonio [Lecture]

  • Headwaters at Incarnate Word 4503 Broadway Street San Antonio, TX 78209 (map)

In this presentation, Gary Perez of the Native-American Church will share his intimate knowledge of the cultures that continue to trek through the South Texas region, visiting natural springs that connect the dots from the past to the present. Perez will connect the San Antonio Missions to this great mystery of what is known as Yanaguana or Spirit Waters (the Blue Hole) at the Headwaters of the San Antonio River and why the missions’ specific iconography (carvings and paintings) still serve as an astronomical guide into the future for local indigenous peoples.

The Headwaters of the San Antonio River have been part of one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in North America. This route later became one of the Camino Reals de las Texas (King’s Highway) and continues to provide cultural resources for pilgrims passing through the area today. What was it that attracted ancient native peoples to these waters? What caused them to stop and contemplate the rest of their journey to what is now known as The Peyote Gardens and what evidence is there of these cultural, geographic, and celestial connections? Part of the evidence left behind is the Lower Pecos Rock Art known as The White Shaman (site 41VV124) located at the confluences of the Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers. This painting has been the subject of study by scientists and native peoples alike. Dr. Carolyn Boyd of Shumla School made the initial breakthrough study of identifying Mesoamerican iconography as the iconography depicted in the rock art. Gary Perez has taken the study further into Geography, Astronomy, and Maths. The geography revealed that the Blue Hole at the Headwaters of the San Antonio River, along with other major springs, are depicted in the White Shaman rock art. The Lower Pecos painting is said to be 4,000 years old or more, though 4,000 years in geologic time is very recent when you compare the millions of years it took to create the Central and Southern Texas landscape. The challenge of tying the springs of Texas to the 4,000 year-old rock art was a challenge met by using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Using GIS, Perez was able to match the iconography in the rock art to geological features in the Texas landscape.

Perez will explain how the Lower Pecos rock art, tied to the San Antonio River, shares the origin story of Coahuiltecan people that pilgrimaged to the Blue Hole when the city was founded.

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