Story at a glance

  • The Battle of the Alamo was a siege of a mission during the Texas Revolution.
  • The historic site has a complicated history and efforts to preserve it are sparking fierce debate.
  • One major point of contention is the role of slavery in the revolution, which some Americans do not want to acknowledge.

Texas lawmakers want to heed the call to “Remember the Alamo,” but they’re stuck on exactly how to remember the history of the 300-year-old former Spanish mission that today stands nearly in ruins. 

Before it was the site of a 13-day siege by the Mexican army during the Texas Revolution, Misión San Antonio de Valero was built as part of the Spanish Catholic mission to convert and re-educate Indigenous peoples. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has since recognized that “there were hundreds of individuals buried in and around Mission San Antonio de Valero (The Alamo) during the Spanish-colonial era,” and the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation is fighting to be heard in plans to renovate and redevelop the area. 


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"Since 1994 the Tap Pilam Coahuiltecan Nation has fought for the return of ancestral remains around San Antonio and we will not give up our fight to ensure all repatriations are honored and we are able to rebury our ancestral remains if human remains are discovered at the Mission San Antonio de Valero. We hope that the City of San Antonio as land owners move forward to ensure our history is never forgotten," says a petition with more than 2,000 signatures asking for a third party archival study of the site

Meanwhile, the THC was fighting to keep the Alamo Cenotaph, a monument to the battle, in the city plaza where it was erected, despite the city council's plans to move it 500 feet to the south in front of a historic hotel. 

“Cenotaph ain’t moving," General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush pronounced last month. They won — but the future of the $450-million plan to renovate the Alamo Mission is still uncertain as revisionists challenge the history of the Texas Revolution, fought in part to preserve the state’s right to enslave people — a fact that public schools in the Lone Star State only began to teach in 2018


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“If they want to bring up that it was about slavery, or say that the Alamo defenders were racist, or anything like that, they need to take their rear ends over the state border and get the hell out of Texas,” president of the This is Freedom Texas Force, a conservative group that held an armed protest last year in Alamo Plaza, Brandon Burkhart told the Washington Post.

City council member Roberto Treviño, who was behind the push to move the Cenotaph, also supported carving the names of enslaved people and native Texans of Mexican descent that were present at the battle into the monument. 

“The issue for the project has been that there’s a lot of moving parts, and a lot of people who have tried to insert their version of history,” he told the Post. “You have to remember that this city is predominantly Hispanic. And for many years, it has not felt like it’s seen itself in that story.”  


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Published on May 10, 2021