RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — November is National Native American Heritage Month, ValleyCentral spoke to a local tribal leader who continues to fight for land he says belonged to his people.

“We’ve been here since time immemorial. Since first contact with the Spanish when they first forted the river in 1532,” said Juan B. Mancias, Esto’k Gna Tribal Chairman, also known as, Carrizo/Comecrudo.

Mancias is not concerned with Thanksgiving or Indigenous People Month rather with the commercialization and gentrification of land he says was taken away from them.

“And so those are important to us and the human beings that live here. And for a long time, those human beings were being subjected to slavery, genocide, and is still going on,” Mancias said.

Mancias says this premiere archeological site by Port Isabel is being threatened by energy development.

In particular he’s concerned about the development of SpaceX and the proposed LNG plant at the Port of Brownsville.

“They want us to forget our ancestors is what they’re doing. And that’s impossible for us to do, because that’s where our teachings, that’s where our knowledge comes from,” Mancias said.

But the Esto’k Gna tribal leader says he won’t let that happen as he teaches his history to his own grandchildren.

“Well, Native American history actually goes back further than most people from England back then. And the history is actually more interesting,” said Santiago Zapata, Mancias’ grandson.

Mancias encourages the people in the Rio Grande Valley to learn about their history and that of local tribes like the Esto’k Gna.