Gary Perez is a descendent of the Hokan speaking peoples of South Texas, a researcher specializing in the indigenous cultures of this area, and a former Centro Ambassador. He spoke with us two years ago and described the White Shaman Mural near Del Rio and its connection to celestial events taking place in and around San Antonio’s Tricentennial Year. However, the scope of the calendar created by the indigenous peoples of South Texas extends beyond this.
We caught up with Gary once more during this Native American Heritage Month to further explore the legacy left for San Antonio by the indigenous peoples of this area. Gary’s research and theories have appeared in the Witte Museum and in his lectures all over, including the University of the Incarnate Word.
Gary has pointed out many connections between the white shaman mural and celestial and geographic phenomena. For example, the mural seems to portray the four great natural springs along the Balcones Escarpment, running from Austin to San Antonio.
Gary also theorizes that the five figures portrayed in the mural are the five visible planets in the sky. These figures and their positions match the positions of the San Antonio Missions along the San Antonio River. It is the “dance” the visible planets do that comprises the next phenomenon that will align with the depictions on the mural.
Every 296 years, the 8-year cyclical dance of Venus around the path of the Sun results in a realignment of the five visible planets, the Sun, and the Moon in the way that they appeared in the sky during the last cycle. That realignment occurs next on December 14th, 2031. Gary explains that there is ample evidence that the native peoples recorded their celestial observances through more than just this rock art.
He points out the similarity of the “dance” of Venus and elements in the façade of Mission Concepcion, for example. The rope crosses the brick-and-mortar line on the Mission façade in the same manner Venus crosses the sun’s path in its 8-year cycle.
According to Gary, these similarities among the rock art, celestial events, and the San Antonio Missions is an example of how his ancestors incorporated their culture into their environment. San Antonio is a city which grows from many and varied traditions and histories. For Gary, the unique intermingling of the European and Indigenous is a legacy written in the stars.
During these unprecedented and challenging times, Gary encourages everyone to take a moment to witness this larger picture in which the times, good or bad, pass over us like the bodies in the heavens.
“We reexamined ourselves and our cosmological worldview and used Spanish technology to express it,” Gary explains. “That is what native culture is all about. It’s a promise. That everything will come around again.”