The Indigenous Cultures Institute was founded in 2006 by members of the Miakan/Garza Band, one of the over two-hundred bands that resided in Texas and northeastern Mexico when the Spaniards first arrived. The 83rd Legislature recognized the Miakan-Garza Band as a Texas Indian tribe with "immeasurable contributions to the State of Texas". Members of the Miakan/Garza Band still practice their traditional ceremonies and maintain long held family ties.


Four generations of the Miakan-Garza Band, representing fifteen major families, attended the State recognition ceremony at the State Capitol on May 16, 2013.

Principal Founder

Dr. Mario GarzaDr. Mario Garza currently serves as board of elder’s chair and is the principal founder of the Institute. He is a member of the Miakan/Garza band of the Coahuiltecan people.

Dr. Garza earned a multidisciplinary Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Social Science, with areas of concentration in Sociology, Political Science and Social Work. He has taught classes at Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and Austin Community College, and has lectured at Texas State University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and other educational institutions and community forums.

He has been active in graves protection and repatriation since 1991 participating in reburial ceremonies at the Comanche Cemetery in Fort Hood, Texas including two Coahuiltecan reburials. In November 27, 1999, Dr. Garza participated in the preparation of over two-hundred remains that were repatriated back to Mission San Juan Capistrano cemetery in San Antonio, Texas – the largest repatriation ceremony in Texas conducted by a non-Bureau of Indian Affairs-recognized group.

Dr. Garza served two tours of duty in Vietnam with the 1/616th Medical Clearing Company, 44th Medical Brigade, U. S. Army. He currently lives in San Marcos, Texas near the sacred springs that archeologists believe to be the oldest, continuously inhabited site in North America.

Texas history is replete with a rich and dynamic indigenous presence. But sadly the significant story about the Coahuiltecans, the original Texas Indians, is seldom told. It is heartening to see Dr. Garza put his many years of experience into researching and compiling this critically important information that relates directly to the Mexican American population of this State. Our children will benefit greatly from learning about their heritage, as will the general public who will certainly appreciate the contributions and continued influence of this Native American community in Texas.
-- Dr. Victor Saenz, U.T. Austin

Board of Elders

Dr. Mario Garza - Chair

Valdemar Garza - Vice Chair

María F. Rocha – Secretary

Javier Garza - Treasurer

Francisco Garza - Board Member

Gilbert Garza - Board Member

Griselda Mata - Board Member

Benjamin Rocha - Board Member

Roxanne Schroeder-Arce - Board Member


María F. Rocha
Executive Director

Bobbie Garza-Hernandez
Public Relations and Development Consultant to the Executive Director's Office

Isabel Mata
Assistant to the Executive Director

Aaron Pyle, M.S.W.
Programs Manager

Laura Benavides
Programs Coordinator

Mario Garza, Ph.D.
Language Program Director

Lydia French, Ph.D.
Nakum Journal Managing Editor

Marleen Villanueva
Youth Programs Director

Luis Aguilar
Sacred Sites Programs Director

Esmeralda Perez
Volunteers Director

Marisa Diaz

Special Projects

Ameyali Gardens
Laura Rios

Healing School
Marika Alvarado

Indigenous Freedom Radio
KZSM Radio, KZSM.org
Gene Randall, Host
Marisa Diaz, Co-host

Laredo Powwow
Teresa Velasquez

Women of the Water
Tahila Xicahuamazatl Mintz
Project Director
Bailey Dieckman
Assistant Grant Manager

Xinachtli Project
Carlos Aceves, M.Ed.