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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Indigenous community speaks on importance of river at protest against film studio


Jose Dominguez leads protesters in an Indigenous Water Song at the Protect The River Protest outside San Marcos City Hall on June 28, 2022.

Members of the San Marcos Indigenous community gathered alongside environmental activists outside City Hall to protest the development of a new film studio on a recharge zone in the La Cima Development, Tuesday, June 28.
Organized by the newly developed Protect The River advocacy group, the protest was in response to City Council’s announcement on June 7 that it would be providing thousands of dollars in tax breaks for a new film studio to develop on top of a vital area for the health of the San Marcos River.
Activists are worried about the environmental implications of such a large-scale project developing on top of a major recharge zone, preventing rainwater from soaking into the ground, where it then filters into the springs and back into the San Marcos River.
The protest began with a River Song led by Jose Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous community.
While beating a rhythm upon a native hand drum, Dominguez led the crowd in a song praising the life that water brings to the community.
“Water is life,” Dominguez chanted. “Our Indigenous existence is a resistance.”
Dominguez participated in the protest because as an Indigenous person, the San Marcos River and water, in general, are sacred to him and his community. He wants to be part of the conversation surrounding a development that will affect a belief that he holds close to his heart.
“It’s where we entered onto the earth from around the world. It’s part of our creation story as documented. So the water, you know, the water has been flowing here for millennia, right? And it has given life to people, animals for a long time,” Dominguez said. “Our water in our river and our springs is very sacred to me personally.”
Other members of the local Indigenous community also spoke about the importance of the river in their lives. Tina Rodriguez, a Texas State alumna, shed tears as she spoke of her experiences with the waters of San Marcos.
As someone who works in the film industry, Rodriguez was at first excited to hear about the development of the new film studio by her home. However, through her participation in a film titled “Yakona” which told the story of water and the San Marcos River in particular, her perspective “started to shift.”
Rodriguez recognized that she had stopped respecting and connecting with the river and, like many, had begun to value money above her connection with both humanity and the water around her. She believes that bringing in this new film studio on top of the recharge zone is another way of sacrificing the water for money and gentrification.
“The indigenous lived with her [the river], in reverence and reciprocity, and then she [the river] told me, ‘and then the white man came’ . . . It was at that point that things began to shift with colonization and gentrification,” Rodriguez said. “We are all connected to these waters. We are experiencing a drought right now. We are connected to this drought. We are drying up inside, because we’ve forgotten the reverence and reciprocity that the river — that the land — needs in order to thrive.”
Jessica Mejía, also known as “La Sirena del Rio” among San Marcos locals, spoke about her frustration with the economic implications of the project and how it encourages gentrification in addition to harming the San Marcos River.
“Gentrification sucks. I live it,” Mejía said. “I was raising my son on these lands in these waters, raising him swimming in the river because that was our backyard in government housing. I have seen rent go from wanting to share a bedroom with him because I couldn’t afford anywhere else to $250 . . . [Now] I have three jobs, two degrees and I might have to move from San Marcos if I don’t live by faith. But I do live by faith. My ancestors brought me here and I’m gonna [expletive] fight to keep our water safe.”
While there is no sign of the film studio being relocated, City Council has agreed to rediscuss the tax incentive they plan to provide to the film studio at the upcoming meeting.
Members of the Indigenous community would like to clarify that they did not attend the protest on behalf of or with the blessing of the San Marcos Indigenous Cultures Institute.

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  • Tina Rodriguez, an alumna of Texas State and member of the Indigenous community, speaks on the importance of living in reverence of the San Marcos River during the Protect The River protest on June 28, 2022.

  • Protesters display signs outside the San Marcos City Hall at the Protect The River protest outside San Marcos City Hall on June 28, 2022.

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