Humanities club from Eagle Pass presents at conference in Chicago

Email this article 05/08/2017

Humanities Club
By: Dennie Johnson

There is a cliché that says that “History is being made fresh every day.” This, for the most part, is a sound and true statement, but history, if not explored, interpreted and documented, also dies daily.

The Humanities Club from Southwest Texas Junior College at Eagle Pass is doing their part in unearthing and preserving precious pieces of Texas history and heritage.

The mission and vision of the Humanities Clubis to produce, through solid research principles, a substantial and authentic community narrative that is inclusive of all people groups in the area local to the Southwest Texas Junior College system that have contributed to regional character, color, and tradition. 


By investigating and documenting those groups that have contributed to the identity of Southwest Texas and especially those groups that have been overlooked or understated in the chronicles of Texas history, the Humanities Club is fashioning a patchwork quilt of narratives for the community. 

The Humanities Club recently submitted an abstract of the initial project research that they had conducted and interpreted and were accepted to the Experimental Biology 2017 Conference held in Chicago, Illinois, in the Undergraduate Research category for a poster presentation. 


Although the primary focus of this major conference is on research that is being conducted at the collegiate level in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and biomedicine, there is a smaller category that allows for research that is being conducted in more diverse disciplines and offers an avenue for publication for smaller institutions. 


The research presentation, Understanding the Phenomenological Identity of the Black Seminole in Southwest Texas as a Means for Historical Preservation and Formation of a Community Narrative, is only the beginning preparation for the overall project of creating an authentic community narrative for the “Black Seminole” and their contribution to Southwest Texas. 


In order to produce an authentic story, student researchers had to first establish a genuine identity for those that identify as Black Seminole. This is a foundational element in the project because much of what has been determined concerning Native American identity appears to come from sweeping socio-ethnic generalizations or by way of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing, which is an efficacious method to make associations by blood, but these methodologies do not address the individual phenomenological evidence that truly determines who one understands themselves to be. 


In order to collect qualitative data for the interpretive establishment of the phenomenological identity of those that affirm Black Seminole heritage and ancestry, researchers developed a questionnaire consisting of seventeen questions, fifteen of which were directed toward ethnicity, culture, language, heritage, and identity, the remaining two questions were concerned with future contact with the respondent and solicitation for stories and anecdotes that will be valuable to a community narrative. 


Student researchers interviewed thirty-nine respondents that affirmed an identity at some level as Black Seminole and discovered that identity for those that were interviewed emerges from a core family unit rather than from the individual. This becomes the pivotal point of the community narrative for this group because it provides a genuine and authentic perspective to tell the story from that removes the romanticizing that occurs in story telling or in recording history. 


The overall project for creating a community narrative for the Black Seminole will take approximately two years to complete. The Black Seminole narrative is but one patch in construction of the quilt for Southwest Texas. Follow-on projects will, again, focus on those people groups that have contributed to Southwest Texas heritage and history, but whose stories are slowly fading away with time and memory.

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