For Eloisa Tamez the land is sacred. She is a 74 year old descendant of Lipan Apache and Basque and it was on this very land in South Texas that 15 generations of her family lived and died. In 1767, King Charles III of Spain granted her ancestors the land that is now known as the community of El Calaboz where some 20 families still live.
Eloisa served in the US Army Nurse Corp and over her long service achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel. Today she is a professor at the University of Texas Brownsville and Texas Southmost College, and also a Commander of the Texas Medical Brigade of the Texas National Guard. She has served her country and preserved her family's long history on the land. But now her country is building walls through the lifeblood of her family heritage.
In 2008, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff demanded Eloisa sign over her land or be sued by the federal government by which a large portion of her land would be condemned through eminent domain. She refused and fought back and became the symbol of resistance against the wall when she filed suit against Chertoff and the DHS.
In April of 2009, a district court said DHS had the power to build through eminent domain, but the court required DHS to consult with Dr. Tamez about how construction would proceed. DHS ignored this court order, and within 48 hours, the US government built 18' of steel wall across her land leaving her no access to the southern portion, including the Rio Grande river which drew her family here more than 200 years ago.