Eloisa Garcia Tamez

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Eloisa Garcia Tamez (born March 2, 1935) is a Lipan Apache civil rights leader, lecturer, professional nurse, professor and retired officer of the United States Army's Nursing Corps. She is a prominent opponent and litigant against the Texas-Mexico border wall.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cameron County, Texas to Jose Cavazos Garcia (of Lipan Apache and Hispanic descent) and Lydia Esparza Garcia (Hispanic), Eloisa Garcia Tamez was raised in a traditional indigenous community with her sibling, grandparents, cousins, and extended family. Her birth community is located within the historical land-base of the Lipan Apache.


Following schooling in La Encantada and San Benito High School, she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Incarnate Word College in 1968. She received a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing in 1973 and a Ph.D. in Health Education from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985.

Early activism[edit]

In the summer of 1952, she led her community members in a local struggle against the discriminatory effects of the controversial consolidation of Landrum District #3 with the San Benito Independent School District, which would have favored white and elite families over the poorer land owners in traditional rancherias.[citation needed] She achieved high status among the rancherias during this struggle to advance the civil rights of the poorer, indigenous and Mexican-American families in 'Deep South Texas'. Her community referred to her as "La Chata, prieta y justa" ["Chata, Indian and just"].[citation needed]

Military service[edit]

Tamez worked at the Audie L. Murphy Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas from 1972 to 1982. From 1982 to 1999, she was an officer, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, in the United States Army Reserves. During this time, she was an assistant chief nurse or chief nurse at VA hospitals in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Hot Springs, South Dakota; and Cleveland, Ohio. On October 25, 2008, she was sworn into the Texas State Guard Medical Brigade as Commander for the Rio Grande Valley Company.

Current activism[edit]

In 2007, Tamez co-founded the Lipan Apache Women Defense, an Indigenous Peoples Organization. Registered at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the organization serves to educate the public regarding contemporary Lipan Apaches and Lower Rio Grande indigenous peoples' legal challenges to human rights violations by the Department of Homeland Security in the process of constructing the Texas-Mexico border wall.[citation needed]

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • 2008: Henry B. Gonzalez Civil Rights Award
  • 2008: Provost's Hispanic Heritage Award, University of Texas-Pan American
  • 2003: Alumna of Distinction, University of the Incarnate Word
  • 1994: Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing
  • 1994: "A" Proficiency Designator, United States Army Medical Department


  • Handbook of Texas Online:
Nuevo Santander
Jose Esparza (1856-1926)
El Calaboz, Texas
Apache Indians"
Land Grants

External links[edit]