The Indigenous Cultures Institute was founded in 2006 by members of the Miakan/Garza Band, one of the over six-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.


Miakan-Garza Band

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

Mario Garza, PhD

Dr. Mario Garza currently serves as board of elder’s chair and is the principal founder of the Institute. He is the Cultural Preservation Officer of the Miakan-Garza Band.  He earned a multi-disciplinary Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Social Science, with areas of concentration in Sociology, Political Science and Social Work. 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. 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.

Board of Elders

Vice Chair



Board Member

Gilbert Garza

Board Member

Board Member

Board Member

Board Member

Staff Members

María F. Rocha
Executive Director

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

Ruben Arellano, Ph.D.
History Consultant to the Executive Director

Isabel Mata
Assistant to the Executive Director

Marleen Villanueva, M.A.
Assistant to the Executive Director

José Dominguez-Leal
Operations  & Communications Director

Aaron Pyle, Ph.D.
Financial Officer

José Gomez, III
Social Media & Online Donations Coordinator

Javier Garza
 Sacred Springs Powwow Coordinator

Mario Garza, Ph.D.

Jessica L. Sánchez Flores, M.A.
Coahuiltecan Language Program Coordinator

Emily Aguilar, M.F.A.
Indigenous Cultures Center Project Coordinator

Pablo Montes, M.A. & Marleen Villanueva, M.A.
Nakum Journal Co-Managing Editors

Diana Guizado
Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet Tours Coordinator

Mario Alberto Ramirez
Performances Program Coordinator

Pablo Montes, M.A.
Youth Programs Coordinator

Carlos Aceves, M.Ed.
Xinachtli Project Coordinator

Esmeralda Perez
Volunteers Coordinator

Marisa Diaz