The Lipan Apache Tribe united in Robstown Saturday for a ceremonial and spirit-filled reunion.

The Lipan Apache Tribe held its homecoming at the Nueces County Show Barn and in attendance were about 200 members who came from Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, California and many other parts of our nation.

The Nueces County-area is the corporation headquarters to the Lipan Apache Tribe.

"Nueces County is the central location to the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas since most of our tribal members reside in parts of the Valley, Corpus Christi, Victoria and San Antonio," said Lipan Apache Tribe chairman Bernard F. Barcena.

Lipan means gray-like people, which was derived from the mixture of white people from the north and black people from the east.

Many of the Lipan Apache members had a chance to reunite with extended tribal members. Tribal members had an opportunity to show their young children and grandchildren where their tribe has come from and the many survivors and veterans of their tribe.

In 1873, the Lipan Apache Tribe was forced out of what is today Texas and Mexico. They came together Saturday to claim they have maintained their individuality and kept to their ways and will rise up.

There are six different groups of Apache tribes: the Mezcarero, Picorea, Kiawa, Cherachoa, White Mountain and Lipan. Only four of these tribes are federally recognized and the Lipan Apache Tribe is not one of them.

Today, the Lipan Apaches are still considered a 501 C-3 non-profit organization.

"There is no freedom without sacrifice," said Robert Soto, vice chairman of the Lipan Apache Tribe and pastor of Grace Brethren Church and the Native American New Life Center in McAllen.

The homecoming featured exhibitions and handmade work that included basket weaving, fire making, God's eyes displays, storytelling, archery, dream-catcher making and their new project, Xohilalli, which is the naturalized food bank.

The food bank project was established after a comparison of healthy living between their ancestors and their tribe today.

"Three generations ago, our ancestors lived a life of hunting and gathering and eating foods that were prepared by hand," said Rey Salazar, the Lipan Apache Tribe Curator/Tribal Horticulturist. "Now, we tend to eat more processed foods which contribute to a higher rate of heart disease, diabetes and other fatal diseases."

The Xohilalli project hopes to get people today back in the kitchen with their families and take some time out of their day to actually prepare their meals.

A couple of the goals the Lipan Apaches have in mind are to have cultural centers that focus on overall health and offering survival skill schools.

"Even though we are a 501 C-3 non-profit, we can get these cultural centers going," said Barcena, of San Antonio. "We are hoping this homecoming could be an annual event, and we've looked at December 2008 or January 2009 to be our next homecoming.

"The outcome of our homecoming today confirms to me that we know our people are not extinct."