It is important to note that the Rio Grande Valley has more Hispanic people than any other ethnicity. Therefore, the HCPCP is conducted by diverse cultures with most of the research participants and burials being of Hispanic descent. I believe that with these same or similar cultural backgrounds, the project is easier to understand and determine valid results, for we can understand the forms of burials conducted in the area by comparing with our own lives. With that said the stakeholders are both the community and the researchers since there is a connection with the culture and society. Of course, this does not leave out other cultures that are integrated, buried nearby, who we are able to learn as well as understand, such as Hispanic culture. The end result is to record, analyze, provide and revive the cemeteries’ descendants and memorial region.
Communities in the Rio Grande Valley are mainly Hispanic but there are diverse cultures. One way we can glimpse at this is by viewing the nearby Black descent cemetery. This shows that others besides Hispanics have been living in Edinburg, Texas since the earlier days. Even so, there are mainly Hispanics buried in this region as there are more Hispanics living here in present times. The reason for this is that the Rio Grande Valley is neighbor to Mexico and the land became part of the United States after the Treaty of Guadalupe of Hidalgo in 1848. The cemetery has dates going back as far as the late 1700s. It shows that the start of burials was during the time that the land belonged to Mexico. Such acknowledgment raises the question: does this cemetery have older descendants than the other three neighboring cemeteries? As stated before, there is another cemetery nearby that has black burials whereas the other well maintained (compared to the one we are working on) Hillcrest Memorial Park and Monuments cemetery. It is interesting how the Hillcrest cemetery is so well maintained with paved roads, integrated water sprinklers, trash cans, restrooms and so on. What happened to the HCPC? Is it much older than the Hillcrest? Is there a difference in the hierarchy? This is important to know so we can determine what communities should be more reached out to. It is like how Cheryl LaRoche and Michael Blakey’s African Burial Ground project in New York shows how the work gave a testimony of the African-American contribution and suffering in that region (LaRoche and Blakey 1997: 100). Here we might find a connection to the regions past participants of what they represented and who they were.
Having Hispanic students conducting research with the HCPCP there is obvious cultural affiliation. It would be great if we could work with communities around us especially those who are families from the descendants. However, “all people put value on objectivity in certain contexts” and no one should be rejected or forced to use the data collected (Kanne Pyburn 2009: 163). By placing the information online, whoever wants to go and see is free to do so. I do believe that there needs to be cultural affiliation involved for the project to function. This does not mean that the leader of the project should be someone that has a decedent in the cemetery. What I mean here is that it makes it easier to have some people that know about the culture. With that, the researcher can teach the others something they know about the burial materials or forms that are difficult to see if not part of that culture. Together they learn and understand the cemetery. Cultural affiliations can as well ease tension with the community who at times dislike non-Hispanic people to research their region. Something similar to the African Burial Ground project problematic situations of questioning if white people should study black people (LaRoche and Blakey 1997: 93). Now if we have Hispanics in the project there will be more comfortable with the communities. In all, I think working with diverse cultures is good for there are so many different views and interpretations that can work together to find the cultural significance of the cemetery.
The stakeholders for the HCPCP are the community and researchers. Both should have some control over the research to share with each other what comes out from the project. What they end up gaining is knowledge of the regions ancestors, culture, and social changes. In fact, the power dynamics of the project is to make the cemetery a better place in order to maintain the cultural importance of the living and the dead. By working together, the attention to continue maintaining the cemetery will increase, for people will become aware of this forgotten graveyard. Going back to HCPCP stakeholders, not only does the researcher need to know the community but the community needs to get to know the researchers in order to understand each other. It is how Pyburn states: “It is important to be known, as to know (Pyburn 2009:174).” In other words, by knowing each other we can place trust and respect on the region and the work that is being done.