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Though the Tejano Monument will be joining a number of statues already housed on Capitol grounds, it has a rather significant message: it commemorates the past and present significance of early Spanish andMexican settlers and their descendants. The 550-square-foot monument includes 12 bronze statues depicting various symbols of Spanish and Mexican settlements in the state. It also displays essay plaques describing the Hispanic experience from five time periods ranging from 1519 to the 20th century.

At the top of the elegant structure,a Spanish explorer looks into the future. The second, central figure is of a Tejano Vaquero who has honed his cattle-handling skills as a result of the Spaniards’ introduction of livestock to the state. A third scene is of a Tejano couple — a woman with a child in her arms and a man with the historic brand of the Martin De Leon (the founder of Victoria, Texas) — meant to represent the historical unity of Tejano families. The fourth representation is of a young girl and lamb bringing drinking water to a clay jug.

The last exhibit depicts a young boy struggling to bring a goat back home.The conceptual design behind the monument was the brainchild of Cayetano Barrera, a physician from McAllen, who also serves on the Rio Bank Board of Directors. A prominent contributor to this project is Jaime Beaman, owner of Casabella Architects in Austin, whose artistic judgment and creativity was valued greatly by the monument’s board. Casabella Architects has contributed an estimated $300,000 in pro bono architectural services to the project.

Another primary figure behind the monument’s evolution is Renato Ramirez, chairman of the board and CEO of IBC Bank-Zapata. Ramirez’s roots in ranching compelled him to take the initiative to see the historic monument through and also solicit IBC Bank to get involved. Even though it was a struggle to have the monument approved and completed,

Ramirez said the whole process has been fulfilling. “Tejanos haven’t gotten the recognition they’ve needed and deserved. History has been written with the vision of an Anglo establishment, but people forget it was an agricultural state before the oil business took over. Hispanics were fundamental to the Texas agriculture and livestock business,” he said. “The ground breaking was a glorious day for me.” IBC Bank’s affinity with the Hispanic market, being that it is a Hispanic-owned operation, resulted in contributions of more than $200,000 from the institution and its members.

The monument’s board also secured a $1.087 million grant from the Texas Legislature and raised an estimated $800,000 in private funds. Corporate donors include AT&T, American Electric Power, FLYMEX, Don Jose Land and Cattle, Rancho El Nino Felix and R&P Ramirez LTD. TBA donated to the project as well.

In an effort to enhance the educational impact of the monument,Ramirez also solicited funding from the Walmart foundation, which, in turn, provided $100,000 for a one-year project that develops teaching modules in a collaborative effort between the University of Texas Department of History, the U.T. Department of Education, the Walmart Foundation and the Austin Independent School District. The program is intended to improve and develop elementary students’ understanding and appreciation of Tejano history and is expected to receive continued funding from corporations in Texas to disseminate the teaching module to other universities and school districts in the state.

The monument will be unveiled March 29 at the Capitol. If you would like to learn more about the monument or donate to its cause, please visit http://www.tejanomonument.com.