Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Texas Rangers monitored the developing U.S.-Mexico boundary, policing the movement of ethnic Mexicans in the border region and enforcing the geographical border. Through curation and circulation of legends, the Texas Rangers became celebrated icons of bravery and masculinity. These representations refused to acknowledge agents’ violent practices and ignored thousands of ethnic Mexicans killed between 1910 and 1920. Instead, they celebrate the disposability of these lives, rendering their memory nearly impossible to preserve. These legends served as both catalysts and justification for the violent and indiscriminate killings of ethnic Mexicans.
Oral productions such as storytelling, taught borderland peoples to revere Rangers whose hands spilt the most Mexican blood and simultaneously prevented formal ways of remembering ethnic Mexicans through oral tradition, death rituals and burial markers. However, community efforts, such as articulating the past through oral history, refuse the erasure of Mexican death. Encarnación Garza is one victim murdered by Texas Rangers. Speaking his name helps reclaim a life and a people long deemed forgettable by Ranger legends. Today, ethnic Mexican memory is being recuperated through public memorialization and the creation of alternative histories in communities that have survived legacies of celebrated, state-sanctioned violence.