Social Justice and Public Archeology

The Hidalgo Pauper Cemetery is itself a form of marginalization or inequality as the people are separated by social status and economic status. That may have not been the intent or maybe it was but the separation is clear, it is like the separation of the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery with the Hillcrest one, there are white post markers that are easy to miss only the color of the grass and the state of the grave markers gives the indication of another cemetery. The Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery had been neglected over sometime the grass a yellow color unlike the Hillcrest’s green the grave markers easy to identify and neatly placed.
The Hidalgo Pauper Cemetery was overrun by overgrown plants that disrupted the graves but that was not all as the cemetery because a place where people would go do drugs and drink while other people used it as a place to gather energy for their ritual magic. The graves cemetery was seen as a place of self-gain forgetting those buried beneath.
I remember that in Hillcrest there was a retired Border Patrol or Customs agent that was being buried in Hillcrest as men in uniform did the twenty-one-gun salute. This would later shape my thinking about a veteran soldier form World War II who had been buried in the Hidalgo Pauper Cemetery. My classmates and I were curious about when the military had started their own cemeteries for soldiers which seemed to have started in the 1800s. One my classmates asked why hadn’t this veteran been buried among the other veterans? It was a question that we could not answer more research would be needed in order to truly find the reason why. There were several that came to mind though and that was that his family did not have enough money and he was buried there or the military had bypassed him.
There were a lot of children among the individuals that died several of them were still-born, 1-2 years of age or barely going to enter their pre-teen years. Many of them seemed to have died around the same time which made several classmates debate about the environment and socio-economic conditions that occurred during that time that led to so many young deaths.
There is another cemetery along with Hillcrest but this is far out in the corner of the property, the Restlawn Cemetery which is for African American or Blacks who were segregated from the rest. Their cemetery is a prime example of inequality and marginalization. The Hidalgo County Cemetery stopped burying people around the 1990s and individuals who would have been buried there were sent to other private cemeteries but most labeled as John Doe or Jane Doe. The cemetery may have started as a form of marketing burial sites in the new municipal cemetery but it became more than that.
Our project purpose is to make the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery be able to have green grass and find the hidden grave markers. During our time in the cemetery we may inadvertently be producing the same inequalities without knowing and meaning to as we forget to some information or we prioritize a section over another. This is however, different from the other inequalities and marginalization as we seek to make all these individuals equal.


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