A short documentary, titled 25 Texans in the Land of Lincoln, is creating quite a buzz for students of St. Mary’s University from San Antonio, Texas. These students embarked on the ultimate class trip with their professor, Dr. Teresa Van Hoy. In October 2016 They set out from the Alamo to Springfield, Illinois, in the hopes to begin a discussion of the repatriation of Santa Anna’s prosthetic leg from the Illinois State Military Museum to Mexico. The documentary follows their 1,000 mile journey from Texas to Springfield as well as details the history of Lincoln’s connection to Mexico before and during his presidency.
On October 26, 2019, there was a screening of this award-winning documentary at the Lincoln Home Visitor Center, where Dr. Van Hoy herself lead the discussion. Two former students of St. Mary’s were also in attendance at the screening. However, they had exchanged their graduation caps to the park ranger uniform that all employees of the National Parks wear while working at the Abraham Lincoln Home. It was a warm welcome for all who entered the theater, and among those in attendance it was well received.
Though this documentary has caused controversy for both sides involved, it has succeeded in the purpose of the trip it documents. It has created a discussion about repatriation and the purpose of artifacts within museums. This screening was well timed, as members of the audience noted, occurring a few days after the repatriation of 42 artifacts to indigenous tribes from Australia by the Illinois State Museum. Repatriation is a long conversation between a lot of museums and institutions around the world, but it is a conversation worth having. Watch the trailer below.