Ixiim: A Maiz-based philosophy

By Roberto Rodríguez
Permission to repost by author

This work examines the philosophical foundation of Tucson’s highly successful Mexican American studies program. The foundation included two Maya or maiz-based concepts: In Lak’Ech and Panche Be. What is explored here is actually the larger philosophical universe from which these ideas are derived. The work examines the writings of Domingo Martinez Paredez, a Maya scholar who influenced the Chicano movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This work examines whether those concepts are relevant today, but also whether they are part of an ancient philosophy or part of a living culture.

At the heart of Tucson’s highly successful Mexican American Studies (MAS) department were several Indigenous philosophical concepts, including two Maya or maiz-based ones: In Lak’ Ech—Tu eres mi otro yo—you are my other me; and Panche Be—Buscar la raiz de la verdad—To seek the root of the truth.

The first concept, is derived from a Maya-inspired poem by Teatro Campesino’s Luis Valdez:

In lak’ ech. Tú eres mi otro yo. You are my other me. Si te hago daño a ti, If I do harm to you, Me hago daño a mi mismo. I do harm to myself. Si te amo y respeto, If I love and respect you, Me amo y respeto yo. I love and respect myself.

This concept is akin to the universal Golden Rule. In the Yucatan peninsula, I have learned it another way, though with a similar meaning: In lak’ ech a laak’ en—I am you and you are me. Panche Be comes from the same philosophical place, and is associated with critical thinking and social justice. These two concepts give us but a glimpse into a much larger Maya-Nahua (Mesoamerican) philosophical worldview, and also into a human rights ethos that is Indigenous to this very continent. And traditionally, these concepts are passed on in the home as opposed to the schools.

When Arizona banned MAS and its books shortly after the passage of the state’s 2010 anti-ethnic studies legislation, HB 2281, it did so in part because the state school’s superintendent, Tom Horne, considered its curriculum to be outside of Western Civilization, resulting in a protracted legal struggle. Horne and his successor, John Huppenthal, objected to the teaching of curriculum that did not emanate from Greco-Roman culture. They also objected to the teaching of critical thinking skills to K–12 students. What Arizona actually ended up banning was an Indigenous worldview(s), arguably the same one that priests violently tried to eradicate during the Spanish colonial era. This banishment was also part of an “Americanization” throwback scheme, an attempt to forcefully separate students from their cultures and impose an “American” one upon them. The good news in all this is that, in the summer 2017 MAS trial, the court found that the state was motivated by racial animus in the elimination of MAS.

While much time has been wasted debating this manufactured conflict, what has not been examined is that larger philosophical universe that explains the nature of what it means to be human. The objective here is to interpret and introduce the reader to that worldview: Maya-Nahua philosophical concepts, which Yucatec Maya linguist and philologist, Domingo Martinez Paredez, argued were common, with variations, throughout the hemisphere.

Exposure to this philosophy in this country is attributed to Valdez’s Pensamiento Serpentino (1973 Valdez, L. (1973) Pensamiento serpentino. N.p.: Cucaracha. [Google Scholar]), who learned it from Martinez-Paredez, one of his mentors. This Maya scholar gifted his knowledge and specifically collaborated with Teatro Campesino during the Chicano Movement, greatly influencing the cultural explosion called the Floricanto movement, before passing on a generation ago. That collaboration resulted in several plays by the Teatro and continues to influence it to this day, Valdez recently told me. This philosophy, as presented here, comes primarily from Martinez-Paredez’s books (see References). The two aforementioned concepts made their way into Tucson’s MAS program in the 1990s, coming to constitute its philosophical core. Though, to be sure, he wrote that the concepts are actually not his, nor even Maya per se, but are maiz-based and common to this continent. Martinez-Paredez was introduced to the Teatro by Conchero (Nahua) elder Andres Segura, who also profoundly affected Teatro Campesino and their work.

He asserted that when Europeans first “learned” Indigenous languages, they misunderstood, mistranslated, butchered, and then demonized them and that Western [trained] scholars continue to quote from the same mistakes to this very day. With missionary zeal, they also destroyed thousands of “idols” and all the native books they could get their hands on, this not just at the infamous 1562 auto de fe in Mani, Yucatan, but during the entirety of the 300 years of Spanish colonialism. They tortured and killed those in the possession of these books and anything that connoted memory (in the Andean region, this included the quipus). In writing, his primary objective was to correct these errors and false narratives.

Here, Sean Arce, former director of Tucson’s MAS department, weighs in on the importance of these concepts to MAS:

In Lak Ech and Panche Be were significant in that they signified a revitalization of Indigenous knowledge, thought and culture. In Lak’ Ech represented a re-articulation of our interconnectedness—an approach or process to remind ourselves as teachers and students why we were engaged in MAS. Panche Be spoke to the need for us in MAS to utilize critical thinking, to dig deeper into issues of history, culture, and colonization as part of the critical process of de-colonization. (Arce, July 2017).

Here now is an introduction to a few of these concepts:

In Lak’ Ech

Beyond the universal Golden Rule, it is about the reciprocal relationship between human beings and all living beings and all life, including and especially with the earth and universe itself (El Hombre y el Cosmos, 1970 Martinez Paredez, D. (1970). El hombre y el cosmos en el mundo Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica. [Google Scholar]).

Panche Be

It is also the search for profound knowledge, knowledge that is usually hidden and that invariably leads one to pursue social justice (Martinez Paredez, 1970 Martinez Paredez, D. (1970). El hombre y el cosmos en el mundo Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica. [Google Scholar]).  In Tucson, this may actually have been the primary reason why the program was eliminated. When the program began to be attacked, it was the students who defended their own program, invoking the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples when they took over the school board on April 26, 2011.

Huracan or The Heart of Heaven

The Popul Vuh creation narrative speaks to the elements that created the universe: fire, lightning, and cosmic energy. The Popul Vuh itself tells us that three elements comprise Huracan: The Heart of Heaven (El Popul Vuh Tiene Razon, 1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 108). “The first was called: Caculha Huracan [fire]. The second is Chipi-Caculha [heat or lightning]. The third is Raxa Caculha [cosmic energy]” (p. 109). Here is an elaboration of Raxa Caculha: “…the common origin of everything… cosmic energy… that signifies, the first ray, or the original energy” (p. 204).

Hel Men or Zero

In the “West,” zero means nothing or the absence of value; however, for the Maya, zero marked the beginning of everything. “From nothing, nothing can be created, but from something, something can be created…. The Maya thinker established that the zero is the germinating seed, the beginning of everything, which is why it was illustrated as a seed or a conch shell…” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 9).

Paxil Cayala or Gran Signo Inicial

The end of one era (deglaciation) and the beginning of a new one (maiz); when the Maya marked their beginnings. When the Maya came to be: 4 Ahau 8 Cumhu on their calendars (1970 Martinez Paredez, D. (1970). El hombre y el cosmos en el mundo Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica. [Google Scholar], p. 18). Paxil Cayala: The end and the beginning; destruction and birth (p. 92).

Quetzalcoatl

A hybrid Maya-Nahua name for bird-serpent. Quetzal in Maya is bird. Coatl in Nahuatl is serpent. The concept represents solar knowledge; thus, people were considered “solar beings” or “children of the sun.” “Quetzalcoatl (it) is nothing more than the sun” (1970 Martinez Paredez, D. (1970). El hombre y el cosmos en el mundo Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica. [Google Scholar], p. 36). Also known as Kulkulcan, Gucumatz, Chichen Itzam (Maya) and Arara (Andean) (El Idioma Maya Hablado y El Escrito, 1967 Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 117). The Bird-Serpent or Eagle-Serpent comes “possibly from humanity’s most remote times…” (p. 80). In the U.S. Southwest, reputedly the Water or Horned Serpent.

Tamuanchan

“Ta” is place of origin, “muan” is bird, and “chan” means serpent. “Tamuanchan is the place of the bird-serpent or Quetzalcoatl-Kulkulkan” (Un Continente y una Cultura, 1960 Martinez Paredez, D. (1960). Un continente y una cultura. Mexico City, Mexico: Editorial Poesia de America. [Google Scholar], p. 84). This is the same place where Maya-Nahua peoples creation stories took place per the Popul Vuh and Codex Chimalpopoca. The place of the Eagle/Serpent was the “Land of Quetzalcoatl,” purportedly a civilization, as opposed to a location. That is what the Mexica were reportedly looking for thousands of years later (Mexican flag): migrating from the north, they searched for the eagle-serpent and ended up founding Tenochtitlan. The same idea is memorialized by many of the continent’s cultures (p. 86).

Can, Chan or Kan

A cosmic-serpentine philosophy: “Can constitutes the supreme expression, as a symbol of the great everything, because of its undulating form, to the Maya, signified vitality and cosmic energy. The importance of this thinking climaxed when the Maya declared themselves Can or Chan, Itza or the children of Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan” or the plumed serpent” (1967 Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 19). “Kan… contains within its name, the following concepts: to learn, to teach, to know, science, philosophy, religion, human being, sun, maiz, water, wind, fire, earth, moon, the Milky Way, etc…” (Hunab Ku, 1963 Martinez Paredez, D. (1963). Hunab ku. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar] , pp. 63–65).

Mazehual or Macehual

Many people of Maya-Nahua-related cultures from Mexico and Central America refer to themselves as mazehual or mazehualob (Yucatec Maya), or macehual or macehualli (Nahuatl). This identity is not based on geography and refers to a common person, the opposite of elite, and also connotes Indigeneity. For some, this is an ancient, not current, identity.

Ixiim or Xiimte

Ixiim is the word for maiz and Xiimte is sacred maiz (1960 Martinez Paredez, D. (1960). Un continente y una cultura. Mexico City, Mexico: Editorial Poesia de America.  [Google Scholar], p. 40). For peoples of this continent, maiz is everything. It is who we are, where we come from, and what we are made of: sacred sustenance, thus: gente de maiz. Scientists consider it one of humanity’s greatest feats in that it was scientifically created as opposed to naturally evolved, and it cannot grow by itself. Because it spread from “Mesoamerica” in all directions, its very existence is proof that peoples from the entire continent were/are connected and related via the seeds of maiz. All have their own name for it and their own stories as to how it came to them.

Hunab Ku

“[I]s derived from three words: Hun, One-Only; Naab, Movement and Measure; and Ku, Giver” (1963 Martinez Paredez, D. (1963). Hunab ku. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 57) “Hunab Ku was not a national or tribal God, but rather: cosmic order” (p. 59). “Hunab Ku was the bone marrow and the essence of their existence, their being, their having, their everything…” (p. 24). “It was the soul of the earth, it was life itself, it was in everything…” (p. 85) “…that cosmic consciousness [that] is called HUNAB KU—The Giver of Movement and Measure (a mathematical concept), which is how they came to understand the concept of zero; how they achieved the creation of the maíz, how they built their pyramids, etc.” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar] , p. 207).

Men

“Creer, crear y hacer: To imagine, create and follow through. It is a power within the psyche, enabling us to do whatever we choose to do. It enables us to create our own reality.” It is how one goes from having a dream to making it happen and seeing it through (Parapsicologia Maya, 1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua. [Google Scholar], pp. 68–69). It is the same idea as SI SE PUEDE! as popularized by Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers of America.

K’ochil

Education with a true sense of responsibility, based on a human rights ethos. “This carga or responsibility makes up our philosophical and spiritual personality; a reflection of that intelligent energy… one is born with and dies with this responsibility. Nothing or no one is able to shirk from it,” giving rise to the expression: “By the ruler we measure, we too will be measured” (1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua [Google Scholar], p. 17).

“Whoever was not educated, was given the name: ‘motherless,’ because education is nurtured and that demonstrates that women were the most solid base for the education of the Maya” (1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua. [Google Scholar], p. 126).

Similarly, those that took part in the MAS struggle to defend and spread it nationwide, viewed it virtually as a sacred responsibility.

Et p’iz

Todo se paga (no bad deed goes unpunished), akin to the Buddhist law of cause and effect. Also known as the law of compensation and responsibility and the scientific concept of “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “No one escapes this law. Each person is responsible for what one thinks, says and does…” (1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua. [Google Scholar], p. 42). Also, what comes around goes around.

Yaxche baalche

A concept that says that without vegetation, there are no animals, and thus no human beings. This gives rise to: “The death of the last tree, signifies the death of the last human being” (1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua.[Google Scholar], p. 79). While an ancient concept, that idea of living in ecological balance rings true even more so today, as the Earth is in extreme peril due to the climate change that is currently wreaking havoc upon the planet.

K’ahlyand—K’hal or Memory and Documentation

The Maya placed great emphasis and importance on remembering and acknowledging their accomplishments, origins, their past, and their future. The two concepts “are intimately related based on the genius of the Maya which managed to leave behind an impressive chronicle that appear to speak to us with a live and fresh voice of the magnificent spirit of the Maya, that left behind with masterful skill each idea (Hobhool) each thought (Tecul) on the surface of stone, in the arts and on clay and on paper

(Huun) in their Analteoob and Uinalteoob (sacred books)… giving birth to the art of writing via hieroglyphics, their language, called Nucul Ttan (instrument of speaking) and writing (Dziib): painting (Bon), reading (Xoc) and giving name to the hieroglyphics themselves that served to preserve the K’ahlay and K’hal (records)…” Even in the post-invasion books, “regardless, they contain the essence of the Maya soul, by way of the intelligence of their children, embedded in the pages of their books (Chilam Balam, Las Cronicas de Chacxulubechen and the Popul Vuh), their K’ahlay of their great past…” (1963 Martinez Paredez, D. (1963). Hunab ku. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], pp. 82–83).

Pixan

“The three energies within the soul are represented by: Naat understanding. Uolah; will, K’ahlay: memory” (1963 Martinez Paredez, D. (1963). Hunab ku. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 80). Naat is also synonymous with intelligence and prophesy. “Pixan is the universal essence that is unknown, hidden and invisible, yet present in all things; the form—the soul…. And this is how they determined that the form is the soul-pixan and the spirit is the essence of the Being, which is fiery from its solar condition that feeds with its energy, animal life and refer to it as K’inan, which comes from the word K’in-Sol (or Sun), and the conditional suffix an-ser (or being), that is to say that the spirit is fiery owing its condition to the Sun. And this energy, K’inan, they believed, was also contained within animals, plants and minerals” (1968 Martinez Paredez,(1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 201).

Nic Te Katun

Part of the Maya calendar, “marking the arrival of the European; the end of the world as we knew it. At that time, the era of freedom and independence ended for the Maya. At that point, they became subservient in a way they had never been, but also embittered because their way of life and their beliefs were destroyed. It represented a calamity on a previously unknown scale. And worse, it was when all things European were imposed, including religion, ways and worldview” (1967 Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 140).

X’cmane

“To the Maya philosophers the Earth was a living being, intimately related to the existence of human beings, coming from the point of view of the physical as well as the psychological. X’cumane was the Earth similar to Coatlicue and Tonantzin: the living Earth, the one that gives life and then embraces us amorously under her breast when we die; as such her symbols are life and death. The Maya thinker came to the conclusion that life came from death and death from life…” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 53).

In Yacunah

“When the Maya exclaim: !IN YACUNAH! They are expressing two things at the same time: My Love and my Pain, because what one loves, hurts. Because pain is contained within the love that two people have for each other. If love unites, pain bonds. That is why the Maya sealed with the genius of their language that thought and sentiment in reference to Love and Pain in Yah” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 144).

Utz Yetel K’az

The Maya did not deny the existence of evil. Rather, they acknowledged that “Utz Yetel K’az—good and evil—existed within all human beings (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 175). As such, the idea is to emphasize the good within all of us.

Yan

“My spirit, my experience, my existence, my being. All contained within this one word, within this one concept” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 140).

“All exist within a person, and exists within that which is theirs, including when that which is theirs, can also belong to someone else, including the person’s image, their possessions, etc. But they continue to belong to him/her” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 140).

Yan U Xiutl Ti

A metaphor for someone who possesses wisdom. Xiu translates to herb, but is also synonymous with science, and thus the expression to this day in the Mayab language when referring to someone intelligent: yan u xiutl ti: Tiene La Yerba, Es decir, Tiene la sabiduria—The person has knowledge of the herbs; that is, the person has wisdom (1960 Martinez Paredez, D. (1960). Un continente y una cultura. Mexico City, Mexico: Editorial Poesia de America.[Google Scholar], p. 41).

Cizin

The belief that we all have a second personality, something akin to the Greek idea of ego (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 177).

“…The Maya were an integral part of that great Intelligent Energy that manifested in the body; wuinclil, that is the vibrant being” (1977 Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua. [Google Scholar], p. 42). “The Maya thinker referred to the human body as wuinclil: vibrant being of energy, which translates to wuinic: being, and lil; vibration…” (p. 46). They believed that all human beings were directly connected to Hunab Ku. “These two words wuinclil and cizin reveal in a most impressive manner that knowledge that the Maya possess regarding human beings, in relationship to their situation and condition, integrated human beings to that cosmic consciousness and that intelligent energy…” (p. 81)

K’ex

“Exchange; the original idea of sacrifice (distorted). Involved only flowers, birds and animal skins.… their ceremonies did not require human sacrifices, instead hearts of birds, animal skins, maiz and flowers, plus symbolic objects that the Maya call: K’EX or INTERCAMBIO or exchange…. Later, that ritual ceremony arrived, it arrived amongst other peoples. And is it true that there is not a single people on earth that can claim never to have practiced human sacrifice? None…. [Yet] Spanish priests created the trope: Europeans carried out massive genocide, but did so only in response to human sacrifice” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 89).

Cabauil

“Creator energy. Cosmic energy that created the earth/universe. And akin to what Magaloni Duarte says; one could see, but not see; it was the development of cosmic consciousness. It was the idea prior to reality. It existed and it did not exist. Cabaguil existed as potential before materialization, and before action. For the Maya thinker, that consciousness was belief, and by believing, they created, and by creating they caused things to be” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 123).

Cabuil: La Causa Final—The Final Cause: “And this is what is reasonable: And this is what caused Cabuil to project itself, even before acting, and its image was the earth, because it is the final cause; it is the reason it caused it to exist. And that is why Cabuil is double because it is both spirit and soul; essence and form. The visible and the invisible; that which had not manifested, but which finally manifested” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 128).

A synthesis

“…through cooperation they attained their freedom through the recognition that the I does not exist, but rather, Mi otro Yo, my other self: In Lak Ech, that is, a great feeling of fraternity that prevented human beings from being wolves to each other, the enemy of human beings. In this manner, the Maya thinker, seeded the basis for human rights centuries, actually, thousands of years before modern humans began to speak to the issues of social justice” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion.[Google Scholar], p. 209).Philosophy: “These ethos regarding what it means to be human were achieved thanks to the fact that they followed these cosmic guidances and that they lived according to nature, based on living according to these proper and just guidances, without having to surrender one’s intelligence or free will” (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 210).

The Maya language: The key to understanding this way of thinking is the Maya language because embedded within it is their philosophy, religion, math, and science. The language informs us the opposite of the colonial knowledge left behind:

“… The priests transformed the [written] language in a manner so different and foreign that the native peoples didn’t understand their own language” (Fray Beltran de Santa Rosa). The tragedy, Paredez added, is that this invented language was erroneously written down in documents and books that continue to be copied, with all those mistakes, by modern scholars. (1967 Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 39)

A constant battle for Paredez was confronting such and other similar mistaken ideas: “What is curious regarding this case [the Maya language], beginning with the colonial era to the present date, is that writers continue to make the same errors that they critique, being that each of the writers have written their own books based on their own understanding, making the most absurd arguments, that the Maya do not know their own language, and that they need to be taught it, advancing the “logical thesis” that the Maya language that was translated by the priests (and others) differed substantially from the language they spoke. To be sure, in those early works, not all the vocabulary was recorded, but only a portion of the language, therefore, the works are not actual Maya grammar or dictionaries, besides, the art of the Maya language was contaminated by the missionaries who were bent on evangelizing the Maya…” (149).

Penumbras and shadows: Martinez-Paredez comments here as to what happened to the [psyche] of the Maya, as a result of the invasion:

“…their silencing transfigured their response, their actions, because they learned to live among the shadows, without making a sound, without echoes, quiet, became materially integrated and connected to their pathways into their forests and mountains and their rivers and lakes; and finally, they converted into shadows in the middle of nature. And that governed their conduct, and thus the Indigenous campesino walks through pathways and roads, like a ghost in the twilight hours, and just as they appear, they disappear and blur and get absorbed by the penumbra, the outer edges of the shadows. (1968 Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 140)

Final thoughts

While this work is preliminary, it appears that the ideas presented here are both ancient and contemporary, and are undeniably Indigenous to this continent. These are ideas that were once decreed by colonial Spanish priests to be both illegitimate and demonic. And yet, to this day, Western society continues to pedal these same erroneous beliefs regarding the original peoples of this continent, concocted by those very same superstitious priests, still living in the dark ages. The effect historically has been to discourage peoples in general from accessing these worldviews or cosmovisions. At best, most [non-Maya] peoples who know about these ideas have come to know them through a badly distorted Western prism.

The notion that the beliefs of peoples had to be eradicated is mind-boggling, yet the idea that those same ideas continue to be considered forbidden knowledge, after some 500 years, defies language.

What is here is but an attempt to give readers a glimpse of that broader worldview. This should not be controversial, yet apparently it is. People from maiz-based cultures and communities have the historic right, minimally, to know about the original and living worldviews or cosmovisions of this continent, primarily because they themselves are part of these same cultures, albeit mostly de-Indigenized. Within this specific context, one can actually see this as part of a re-Indigenization effort, though this is not entirely similar to revitalization efforts undertaken by other Indigenous people on this continent. The communities discussed here did not intentionally seek to revitalize their Indigenous cultures. Many simply continued the tradition of glorifying Mexico’s ancient Indigenous past, while essentially ignoring the living. It was Indigenous elders, including Martinez-Paredez, from Mexico, Central America, the United States, and other parts of the continent, who initiated such contact and have brought with them such and similar knowledges since the advent of the Chicano Movement. Some of that knowledge has come by way of ceremonies and the oral tradition: danza, medicine, language instruction, running, stories, art, music, poetry and song or floricanto.

All this is part of a much larger story, but as many of these elders have taught, peoples from maiz-based cultures—who have been disconnected from their cultures as a result of colonialism and imperialism—are being exposed once again, not to lost knowledges, but rather to these knowledges from which they have been disconnected for generations (many migrants from Mexico and Central America nowadays are not disconnected from their cultures). Over the past generation, most of the knowledge passed on has been Nahua-based. Most of what is here is

Maya-based and, as Martinez-Paredez argued, Maya-Nahua culture is part of the same maiz-based culture. It has served to center peoples to these very lands, peoples who continue to be under ferocious attack as aliens, with the knowledge, as proclaimed at several recent Indigenous gatherings in Guatemala and Peru, that “we can never be foreigners on our own continent.”

With that comes not so much rights, but responsibilities, to resist and to create. It is implicit that, due to language and cultural issues, these concepts minimally are not being pronounced correctly, nor clearly grasped, and probably not understood within their actual context. And yet, what is minimally expected is that these ideas be approached with respect and understood that they are part of that larger philosophical universe of living peoples and cultures, as opposed to being museum relics, and always within the context of peace, dignity, and justice. This brings to mind that adage that we are judged, not by what we profess, but rather, by the footsteps we leave behind.

“If the Spaniards come looking for our corn or our chickens, our corn they will find at the point of our arrows and our chickens at the point of our spears.”
–A Maya Cacique (1967 Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar], p. 46)

Notes regarding Domingo Martinez-Paredez

This essay barely scratches at Martinez Paredez’s body of work, whose primary theme was social justice and the cultural unity of the original peoples of the continent, based on maiz.

Conscious of the uniqueness of his cultural and linguistic background, he once noted that, of the thousands of books written about the Maya, few had ever been written by native-born Maya scholars. He was fluent in the Yucatec Maya language, was academically trained and a professor in the field of Maya linguistics and philology, who inherited his knowledge from his mother, a curandera, along with other Yucatec Maya elders.

Because he has detractors from many quarters, it is important to examine his work, and the concepts he describes, thoroughly. To ensure this, revered elders who worked with him, plus other Maya linguists, language teachers, and elders, have and will continue to be consulted for this ongoing work. At the moment, this represents but the equivalent of an initial review of his works.

To be sure, there is much excitement among the scholars/elders that I am collaborating with that people in El Norte are interested in their philosophy and worldview.

The final objective here, as a result of this collaboration, is to elaborate these concepts further, bringing with it a greater philosophical coherence and also examining how these communities are either contributing to this worldview or helping to develop their own related worldview, in that hostile space called El Norte.

Appendix: Additional Glossary

  • Chilam Balaam: Chi—to speak, Lam—profoundly, Balam—hidden. Enigmatic, secret, and mysterious (1968, p. 184).
  • Caput Zihil: To be born a second time, akin to reincarnation (p. 152).
  • Canil Cuxan—Canil Cuxtal: When we die, we see our entire lives before us (p. 151).
  • Bey Uale—Le Ca Ualic: What happened to the Maya after the arrival of Europeans: became shadows in the middle of nature (p.140).
  • Helel: “From life surges death and from death surges They had the magnificent conviction that the act of dying is simply but a momentary pause from life” (p. 209).
  • Tepeu & Gucumatz—Energy and Water. Creator spirits in the Popul Vuh (p. 61).
  • Kizin: the psyche (1977, p. 44).
  • Mak’am: The equivalent of handmade or a laborer (1960, p. 130).
  • Ueytiuavan—Teotihuacan: Where lords are made (legitimated) (1960, p. 50).
  • Noh Yum or Tata Yum: Equivalence of God/Father. Not Hunab Ku (1963, p. 15).
  • Ch’Eenel Ik: Calm and silence. When the wind can not be
  • Analteoob y Uinalteoob: Sacred books (1963, p. 82).
  • Tecul: “to think, in the rich language of the Maya, it is the logical base from where a whole gamut of concepts reveal themselves in stupendous and intellectual form…” (1963, 76).
  • K’ahol: Conocimiento—knowledge (p. 77).
  • Cin K’aholt Cimba: I know myself (p. 77).
  • Ohel: knowledge that would permit one to rise to a higher spiritual plane (Nak O’lal), full of noble and generous sentiments (p. 77).
  • Pixan Yocol Cab: The world’s soul (p. 88).
  • Lukanoob Tumen Kan: Those that had been swallowed by the knowledge of the Initiates into the deep knowledge of the Maya (p. 89).
  • Akab Dziib: Enigmatic writing or difficult-to-comprehend writings (p. 92).
  • Canil cuxtal: The serpent of life (1977).
  • Nenhool: mirror of the mind (p. 21).
  • H’menes: healers, curanderos, [good] magicians (p. 31).
  • Ti ma ococ ha tin pol cuchi: Per the writer Nakuk Pech: “Before water had been poured on my head; before baptism” (1967, p. 70).

References

Martinez Paredez, D. (1960). Un continente y una cultura. Mexico City, Mexico: Editorial Poesia de America. [Google Scholar]

Martinez Paredez, D. (1963). Hunab ku. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar] Martinez Paredez, D. (1967). El idioma Maya hablado y el escrito. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar]

Martinez Paredez, D. (1968). El popul vuh tiene razon. Mexico City, Mexico: Orion. [Google Scholar]

Martinez Paredez, D. (1970). El hombre y el cosmos en el mundo Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Secretaria de Educacion Publica. [Google Scholar]

Martinez Paredez, D. 1977, Parapsicologia Maya. Mexico City, Mexico: Manuel Porrua. [Google Scholar]

Valdez, L. (1973) Pensamiento serpentino. N.p.: Cucaracha. [Google Scholar]

Are Mexicans Indigenous? (Bilingual edition)

Photo by Iris Rodriguez / Yacatsol

Permission to post granted by Author

As many US states and municipalities have begun to eschew the colonial tradition of “Columbus Day” in favor of adopting Monday’s holiday as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” one might wonder where people of Mexican heritage fit in.

For some, this is a controversial question due to hundreds of years of mestizaje, or mixture, and also due to hundreds of years of colonialism and colonized thinking. For others, this is not controversial at all, because with few European women brought to this continent, the mixture was not co-equal and consensual, and thus, most Mexicans essentially remain Indigenous or are de-Indigenized peoples as a result of colonization.

All answers are complex because the category of mestizo/mestiza is actually a non-scientific term born of a racial caste system of exploitation, designed primarily not as a racial descriptor, but to deprive people of their full human rights. If it were simply a racial designation, in all likelihood, most Mexicans would be considered mestizo or Indigenous; in Canada, a metis or person of “mixed-blood” is considered a First Nations person. In Mexico, very few Mexicans are considered “white.”

To read more articles by Roberto Rodriguez and other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.

One of the primary answers also gives us a clue as to why Mexicans have always been exploited in the United States.

The Mexican American Identity Throughout History

In the US, Mexicans represent memory; a reminder of land theft and unjust war. Yet what is commonly expressed by omission is that they are the antithesis of idealized, blonde and blue-eyed Americans. Mexicans are viewed as utter outsiders, as enemy “others.” This has to do with the unfinished business of Manifest Destiny: Blacks were to be enslaved and Native peoples were supposed to have been eradicated from these “promised lands” of North America.

Mexicans have been viewed by white Americans as inferior peoples and convenient scapegoats. This thinking was behind the periodic, massive and inhumane deportation campaigns throughout US history, from the lynching campaigns of the 1840s-1920s, to the Trump administration’s current immigration policy.

During the height of the Chicano Movement, activists asserted a radical pride: they were mestizo/mestiza (mixed-peoples) and part of a bronze continent that did not recognize any “capricious borders.” This was the origin of “Brown is Beautiful” and “Brown Power,” and such ideas were embedded within El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, one of the foundational documents of this movement.

Many in the movement also proclaimed Indigeneity. This was contrary to how previous generations of Mexican Americans had identified, insistent upon a white identity, in particular, for waging legal desegregation battles. However, as University of Texas scholar Martha Menchaca has demonstrated in “Chicano Indianism,” Mexican Americans were never actually treated by society and its institutions as white, especially in the courtroom.

Almost 50 years after the height of the movement, the question now being posed is whether Mexicans/Chicanos/Chicanas are Native peoples, especially since the population has skyrocketed and is no longer confined to the US Southwest. They have also been joined by many more millions of peoples from Mexico and Central America, who often share a common Mesoamerican root, and who increasingly come from living Indigenous pueblos.

Shifting Identities

Communities of Zapotec, Mixtec, Purépecha, Otomi, Nahua and Maya peoples, to name a few, identify as Indigenous, as do some Mexican peoples that have mixed with Native Americans throughout the United States.

The question of Indigeneity, then, is largely about de-Indigenized Mexicans and Central Americans: Are they Native? That question should be restricted to de-Indigenized peoples, but even Yaquis (who generally live in the Southwestern US, as well as northern Mexico), for example, are viewed by some as Mexican, as opposed to Native. Adding to this complexity, some consider O’odham peoples who live in Sonora also as Mexicans and not O’odham.

During the Chicano movement, Mexicans/Chicanos/Chicanas generally spoke of descending from Indigenous peoples — Aztec and Maya, primarily. They never identified when they themselves stopped being Indigenous. That is the key — Indigeneity is not simply the past, but also the present.

Given that we are speaking of perhaps 30-40 million people, is a shift toward identifying as Indigenous, among a population that is itself historically anti-Indigenous, possible? Who decides? Does white America — including the US government — have a say in this matter? The government can define US citizenship, but arguably has no standing when it comes to defining a historical identity that precedes the formation of the United States and, in effect, involves the entire continent, as opposed to just the US.

It is a conversation that needs to be had, especially within a society that is hell-bent on erecting a massive wall — the consummate symbol of white supremacy — to keep the “Brown hordes” out.

The people who would have a say in this matter would be the AmerIndigenous peoples — the original peoples of this continent — especially within the United States. This may not be an easy question to answer. Due to colonialism and extreme racism, many Mexicans over the centuries have been trained or raised to reject their own ancestry, and many have done so and continue to do so. Given this reality, many original peoples would never “accept them back.” Others have and do, and many do so with open arms, wondering why it has taken them so long “to return.”

I suspect that if there ever comes a time of full acceptance, it will come about as a result of much dialogue. And yet, it will be these de-Indigenized communities that will ultimately have to decide upon not simply their identity, but also their future.

However Mexicans ultimately choose to identify, what is certain is that unless something radical happens, chances are very likely that they will not be accepted as full human beings by this society in the foreseeable future. Thus, will Mexicans acknowledge their future as intertwined with the recognized original peoples of this continent, or will they choose a different course?


En Español


¿Los Mexicanos y Los Centroamericanos son Nativos o Indígenas?
Por Roberto Rodríguez

Para algunos, esta es una cuestión controvertida debido a cientos de años de mestizaje o mezcla y también debido a cientos de años de colonialismo y pensamiento colonizado. Para otros, esto no es nada polémico porque con pocas mujeres europeas que fueron traídas a este continente, la mezcla no fue igualitaria y consensuada, por lo que la mayoría de los Mexicanos permanecen esencialmente indígenas o son pueblos des-indigenizados como resultado de la colonización (México Profundo, 1996).

Todas las respuestas son complejas porque la categoría de mestizo / mestiza es en realidad un término no científico nacido de un sistema de castas raciales de explotación, diseñado principalmente no como un descriptor racial, sino para privar a la gente de sus derechos humanos. Si se tratara simplemente de una designación racial, en Canadá, un metis o persona de “sangre mezclada” se considera una persona “First Nation,” o Indijena.

Una de las respuestas primarias, sin sorpresa, también nos da una idea de por qué los Mexicanos siempre han sido odiados y despreciados en los Estados Unidos.

En los Estados Unidos, los Mexicanos representan la memoria; un recordatorio del robo de tierras y la guerra injusta. Sin embargo, lo que comúnmente se expresa por omisión y comisión, es que son la antítesis de los estadounidenses idealizados, rubios y de ojos azules. Los Mexicanos son vistos como extranjeros y enemigos “otros” y como mestizos impuros; salvajes tal vez, aunque nunca noble e incuestionablemente ajeno. Ser un recordatorio tiene que ver con el asunto inconcluso del destino manifiesto: los negros debían ser esclavizados y se suponía que los pueblos originarios debían ser erradicados de estas “tierras prometidas”.

Los Mexicanos siempre han sido vistos simplemente como pueblos inferiores y “en el camino”, y siempre han sido siempre para chivos expiatorios convenientes. Esto ayuda a explicar las campañas de deportación periódica, masiva e inhumana a lo largo de la historia de los Estados Unidos (Decade of Betrayal, 1995), incluyendo campañas de linchamiento de los años 1840-1920 (The Forgotten Dead, 2013). La pregunta es ¿por qué? ¿Porque la mayoría son de color bronze, cortos, hablan español y son Católicos? Tal vez, aunque me atrevería a decir que la razón principal puede ser simplemente su color bronze y lo que representa aquí en este pais.

Durante el auge del Movimiento Chicano, es este hecho el que se afirmó con orgullo. Para este país tratan, afirmaron algo radical; que eran mestizo / mestiza y parte de un continente de bronce que no reconocía ningunas “frontera caprichosas”. Estos fueron los orígenes de “Brown is Beautiful” y “Brown Power!” y tales ideas estaban incrustadas en El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, uno de los documentos fundamentales de este movimiento. Muchos también proclamaron una Indigeneidad. Esto era contrario a cómo las generaciones anteriores habían identificado, insistiendo en una identidad blanca, en particular, para emprender batallas legales contra la segregación. Aunque como ha demostrado la experta de la Universidad de Texas Martha Menchaca en el “Chicano Indigenism”, nunca fueron tratadas por la sociedad y sus instituciones como blancos, especialmente en la sala de audiencias.

Casi 50 años después de la altura del movimiento, y la pregunta que ahora se plantea es si los Mexicanos / Chicanos /as no son mestizos / mestizas, sino más bien si son nativos, sobre todo porque la población se ha disparado, ya no se limitan al Suroeste de Estados Unidos y también se han unido muchos más millones de personas de México y América Central, que a menudo comparten una raíz Mesoamericana común y que cada vez más provienen de pueblos Indígenas vivos (no simplemente históricos).

En cierto sentido, estas nuevas comunidades de pueblos Zapotecos, Mixtecos, Purpechas, Otomíes, Nahuas y Mayas, etc., complican la cuestión, aunque en realidad, para estas comunidades, su Indigeneidad no está en cuestión, aunque los extremistas raciales cuestionan su presencia aquí. Lo mismo con los pueblos Mexicanos que se han mezclado con Nativo Americanos en todo Estados Unidos.

La pregunta entonces realmente es en general acerca de los des-indigenizados Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, etc. ¿Son nativos? Esa cuestión debe limitarse a los pueblos des-indigenizados, pero incluso los Yaquis, por ejemplo, son vistos por algunos como Mexicanos en pero no nativos. Sumando a esta complejidad, algunos consideran a los pueblos O’odham que viven en Sonora también como mexicanos pero no O’odham.

Durante el movimiento Chicano, los Mexicanos / Chicanos /Chicanas generalmente hablaban de descender de los pueblos Indígenas; Aztecas y Mayas principalmente. Nunca identificaron cuando ellos mismos dejaron de ser Indígenas. Esa es la clave; no el pasado, sino el presente. Y dado que estamos hablando de quizás entre 30 y 40 millones de personas, ¿es posible volver a la Indigenización, más allá de la descolonización, entre una población que es históricamente anti-Indígena -en gran parte debido al auto-odio provocado por esa colonización? ¿Quien decide? ¿Tiene la America de Anglosajones – incluyendo el gobierno de Estados Unidos – una voz en este asunto? El gobierno puede definir la ciudadanía Estadounidense, pero sin duda no tiene ninguna relación con una identidad histórica que precede a la formación de los Estados Unidos y, de hecho, involucra a todo el continente en comparación con sólo este país.

Es una conversación que se necesita tener, especialmente en una sociedad que está empeñada en erigir un muro masivo – el símbolo consumado de la supremacía blanca – para mantener a las “hordas de bronce”.

Quienes sin duda tendrían una voz en este asunto serían los pueblos AmerIndigenas – los pueblos originarios de este continente – especialmente dentro de los Estados Unidos. Metafóricamente, los “mestizos” son los “hijos” de la gente original de este continente, y así los padres no rechazan a sus hijos, y viceversa, aunque históricamente, lo contrario no siempre ha sido cierto. Debido al colonialismo y al racismo extremo, los “niños” fueron entrenados o educados para rechazar a sus propios padres y muchos lo han hecho y siguen haciéndolo. Dada esta realidad, muchos pueblos originales nunca los “aceptarían”. Otros tienen y hacen, y muchos lo hacen con los brazos abiertos, preguntándose por qué esto ha tomado tanto tiempo “volver”.

Estoy sospechando que si alguna vez llega un momento de plena aceptación, se producirá mínimamente, como resultado de mucho diálogo. Y sin embargo, serán estas comunidades des-indigenizados- las que finalmente tendrán que decidir no sólo su identidad, sino también su futuro. ¿Está entrelazada con los pueblos originarios reconocidos de este continente, o eligen un curso diferente? Pero como se ha señalado, no puede ser una decisión unilateral impuesta.

Rodríguez es profesor asociado en la Universidad de Arizona y puede ser contactado en: [email protected]

La columna fue primero publicado en Ingles con El titulo: Are Mexicans Indigenous? Truthout.org: http://www.truth-out.org/…/it…/42193-are-mexicans-indigenous

Nación Xikana-Macehual

By Diego Rivera.  Palacio Nacional.
By Diego Rivera. Palacio Nacional.

By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez

With the war on Mexican and Central American peoples in this country in full swing, and promises by the GOP nominee to continue that war further, perhaps there is no better time to declare an Indigenous Nación Xikana than now. This ugly political climate has at minimum created the conditions to discuss what perhaps many have long considered unthinkable and unrealistic, or as an idea whose time has passed. And yet for others, it is long overdue.

Three initial questions arise:

1) Is it illegal?
2) what constitutes a nation?
3) What would this nation look like and who would be a part of it?

Yes, creating a nation is not simply legal, but it is something that has been done through the ages.

To do this, the assumption is that you minimally need a geographic space. And you need peoples with a common background and interest.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Chicanos spoke of creating a, or being part of, a Chicano nation. Those that subscribed to this idea referred to this proposed nation as Aztlan. Specifically, El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan is credited with the idea of advancing the idea of the Nation of Aztlan. While it generated a lot of enthusiasm for perhaps a decade, whatever steps that were taken to create this nation did not materially result in the actual creation of this nation. That’s not to say there was not a lot of movement; quite the opposite. Some might describe it as a moment of electricity or even as a primary process when peoples long accustomed to resolving issues through institutional means quietly, exploded in fury across the nation in what we today know as the Chicano Movement. This political euphoria brought much excitement and change but the one thing the movement did not accomplish was a unity among the disparate movements, including the farmworker’s movement; the youth movement; the educational rights movement, the land grants movement, the political movement (La Raza Unida Party); the immigrant rights movement and the Chicana Movement, etc.

This inability to unite all the movements, in effect, was what perhaps doomed the dream of building a nation and specifically, the nation of Aztlan. The height of this dream was perhaps between 1969-1979.

In regards to the building of a nation, what was the geographic space envisioned? The land that had formerly been Mexico, prior to the land-grabbing schemes of Americans between the 1830s-1850s? The land lost constituted approximately half of Mexico’s national territory and included parts of 10 states that today are part of the United States. That land mass is also the northern part of what Spain had carved out for itself in its northern frontiers between the 1500s-1800s. While some argue that it also constituted the northern reaches of the Mexica sphere of influence, not many anthropologists or historians subscribe to that thesis. And yet, some do believe that the Mexica, Toltec or Maya may have extended their influence – via trade – to that region and to the Gulf of Mexico and possibly up the Mississippi, but that gets tangential to this discussion.

In pre-Colombian days, that land mass that is today referred to as the U.S. Southwest was actually not part of a historic territory called Aztlan. However, Aztlan was reputedly a native name for the homeland of the Aztecs, recorded by chroniclers and writers of the post-Colombian codices. However, during the 1960s, Chicanos designated or equated the U.S. Southwest as Aztlan, recognizing it as Aztec homeland, the land taken by the United States between the 1830s-1950s – affirmed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – nbm, and the future homeland for Chicanos.

But what of Aztlan itself? Where was it actually?

That is a huge topic residing somewhere between myth, memory, history and philosophy. It is the purported homeland of the Mexica, one of several tribes purportedly from somewhere north of Mexico City, that eventually migrated south, with the Mexica eventually founding Tenochtitlan-Mexico City itself in 1325. But where is that north and was it a city, a region or what is what is today considered the U.S. Southwest? If the Mexica, who were Nahuatl speakers, did come from somewhere in the north, more than likely, their point of origin was not the entire “North” nor the entire U.S. Southwest. Most Mexican anthropologists believe that the historic Aztlan was probably Mexcatitlan, Nayarait, a site that was later architecturally mirrored by the builders of Tenochtitlan-Mexico City.

Despite that widespread belief, historic maps show Salt Lake or the Salt Lake region as where some mapmakers located that point of origin of the Aztecs-Mexica to be (Humboldt 1804, Alzate 1769 and Barreiro, 1729). These maps show the Salt lake regionas the point of origin and three stops along the way south. Most importantly, the 1847 Disturnell Map, which is attached to the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, does not depict Salt Lake as the point of origin, however it does depict the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stops. The second stop reads: “Antigua Residencia de los Aztecas” located generally in todays Four Corners region of the United States. This by itself is of huge significance to this discussion primarily due to the fact that the map is attached to the [living] treaty.

Also of importance is the fact that the Nahuatl language is part of a language family – known as Uto-Nahuatl or Uto-Azteca – that extends from Southern Canada to Nicaragua. The connections are simply linguistic and historic but also contemporary as Nahuatl-speaking elders from Southern Mexico have been able to speak with elders from the Four Corners region. This too is hugely significant.

Assuming that the Mexica (one of many hundreds of tribes/nations from Mexico) did originate in that region, would that be the basis for Chicanos claiming the entire U.S. Southwest? Or is the claim of the Southwest on the basis that the United States took that territory as a result of wars and the threat of more wars? This necessarily appears to be two different narratives.

Another claim to the same land would simply be on the basis that that is where the majority of Chicano/Chicana/Mexican origin peoples in the United States live today. And yet, while most do live in the Southwest, many more also now live beyond those borders in all 50 states and even Canada. One can also argue that many now also live in Mexico and Central America as a result of a large deportation regime put in place this past generation.

Thus far, the discussion has been about land and where peoples lived or live today, etc. With the idea of becoming a nation, perhaps one can look at it as a process and perhaps the first step in becoming a nation is simply declaring oneself a nation. Perhaps initially it can be a stateless nation, without borders and people-based, as opposed to territorially based. That is, it can be all peoples who identify with this proposed Indigenous: Nacion Xicana. This does not necessarily limit this idea to Chicanos/Chicanos, etc., though in the United States, they would form its core.

The name: Nacion Xikana, can be one option for this proposed nation. And no doubt there are others. For example, Nacion Macehual – which means average person or people in Maya and Nahuatl – connotes a wider inclusivity. To be remembered is that a Chicano/Chicana identity connotes the 1960s and 1970s (generation gap) and also, many Mexicanos/Mexicanas did not then, nor do they now identify with Chicanos/Chicanas, etc. That said, no doubt, Aztlan would be a leading contender, though because of its 1960s construction, it does not have the same appeal of that era today, if a number of the objections and negatives could be resolved satisfactorily, perhaps it becomes more palatable.

The reason there is a hesitancy re the use of Aztlan is twofold. It assumes, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that all people of Mexican origin were Aztec-Mexica, this while Mexico is actually comprised of hundreds of Indigenous peoples, pueblos and nations. But more importantly, the second reason has to do with the fact that the area in question is also home to many, many Indigenous nations, literally on both sides of the border. Many of those nations have spoken out throughout the past few decades, of not feeling consulted and thus objecting to a proposed nation that would include their territories. Aztlan, many have voiced, would infringe on both their sovereignty and their lands. Some aren’t as dilomatic and see Aztlan and Chicanos as potentially new colonizers.

And yet, that is the last thing any Raza ever envisioned, including proponents of Aztlan, though it of course begins with these negatives.

As part of this nation-building process, perhaps that is why initially a Nacion Xikana – or even a Nacion Xikana-Macehual – could be people-based, as opposed to one that is territorially based. In this manner, such a nation could have representatives from Illinois and New York and Georgia and Alabama and Washington and Wisconsin as well as from the U.S. Southwest. It could actually include representatives from Canada where lots of Mexicans and Central Americans can be found, many both political and economic refugees. And of course, Mexico and Central America is where many deportees live today.

While this idea has always existed, unbeknownst to the right wing, very few people outside of the late 1960s and early 1970s, have ever taken the idea of a nation of Aztlan (or by any other name) seriously, and whatever effort was made by a number of organizations did not result in its creation as a nation.

So for this nation-building process to begin today, something serious would have to trigger the process… something akin to 9/11. That is, 9/11 was spun to create a police-state, to be able to wage permanent worldwide war. Absent the events of 9/11 and that development would not have been possible. People came to believe that there was an existential threat to the United States.

Only something of that magnitude would permit the rise of a Nacion Xikana; something that would also rise to the level of existential threat, and real, as opposed to invented. Well, that day has arguably arrived.

Several factors have brought us to this precipice. The fact that the GOP nominee could become the next president of the United States is reason enough. His proposed policies that target Mexican and migrant communities are both hate-based, racially based and actually criminal. His proposal to deport 11 million people within 18 months, and the creation of a special deportation force, specifically targeting Mexican peoples, is the prima facie definition of ethnocide. Simply advocating for it is considered a crime against humanity. And yet, that is not all of his anti-Mexican proposals; his call for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, paid for by Mexico, appears to resonate the most among his extremist supporters, especially at his fascistic rallies where he in fact has encouraged violence. And not to be forgotten is that while always focusing on Mexicans, he favors the overturning of birthright citizenship and the 14th amendment.

What has actually brought us even closer to this precipice is that when this candidate attacked Mexican peoples when he announced his campaign in 2015, mainstream America did not come to the defense of Mexican peoples. Rather than treat him as an international pariah that he revealed himself to be, the media fawned all over him, falling over each other to get an exclusive interview. Not until he began to attack other groups did the U.S.-body politic start to publically object. This spoke volumes. Ok to attack Mexicans. Not Ok to attack other groups.

Something else that has brought us to this precipice; the fact that Mexican/Central American peoples peoples have been invisiblized by this society. The racial profiling and extreme violence against our communities is proof enough – whether by the police or immigration authorities – yet, this is actually true in all aspects of life in the United States. As far as the national discourse, national conversations and national imagination are concerned, “brown peoples,” in effect, do not exist. The reason why we are invisible is irrelevant. The point is, beyond the governmental institutions, we also do not exist on the little and big screens, except as subservient and as criminals… and that includes Spanish-language media, especially Spanish-language media.

This is no longer the 1960s or 1970s, and thus the idea of a Nacion Xikana is not being born of idealism per se, but in effect, arguably as an act of self-defense. What cannot be forgotten is that mass dragnet deportation raids have always been a part of our history and sometimes, in greater proportions than others (such as Operation Wetback of the 1950s). Those mass deportation schemes in the 1930s and 1950s (and more) unquestionably constituted ethnic cleansing or ethnocide as Mexican peoples were specifically targeted, which includied U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. Some may argue that today there isn’t a just cause yet… meaning perhaps they might want to wait until the lines for trains are being formed. And yet others are not willing to wait for the ethnic cleansing to begin.

If there is to be a nation, nations are minimally supposed to have shared roots, a shared history, a shared philosophy and a shared vision.

The shared roots and shared history are related. Actually, they are all related. Mexicans/Chicanos/Chicanas are part of maiz-based peoples and living cultures that have been on this continent for many thousands of years. And in what is today the United States, since 1848, have lived at best as foreigners in lands not simply that were formerly a part of Mexico, but also anywhere where they/we have lived. What should be kept in mind is that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – which is very much alive – is supposed to protect the human rights of all of Mexico’s former residents, but it has not. This applies to their descendants also, otherwise all treaties would be meaningless.

The shared vision is for the peoples in question is to be treated as full human beings with full human rights – whether they be political, economic, educational, linguistic or cultural – regardless of where they/we live and to be treated as the Indigenous peoples that we are and have always been. As has been proclaimed recently in Peru and Guatemala: “We can not be foreigners on our own continent.”

Regarding a shared philosophy, while the peoples come from many, many nations and pueblos, as maiz-based peoples, in effect, they/we inherit maiz-based philosophies which are largely attributable, though not limited to, Maya-Nahua peoples, developed over several thousands of years. Over the past generation in this country, poets and educators have brought and continue to bring this philosophy to light. At the same time, as the work of various scholars have shown, these same peoples have also been influenced, and much through intermarriage, by the original peoples and Indigenous pueblos of what is today the United States, including and primarily the U.S. Southwest.

In that sense, Mexicans/Chicanas/Chicanos are diverse peoples with northern, central and southern influences. In fact, peoples from Central America, come from those same maiz-based cultures, what anthropologists have dubbed Mesoamerica. And yet, the shared roots do not stop there as virtually the entire Western Hemisphere, what people erroneously call the Americas, are generally all maiz-based peoples, with some cultures even older, such as salmon and buffalo cultures. Thus the peoples in question are not foreigners at all, but instead, part of the original peoples of this continent. And while the world recognizes “the Americas”- in some of our languages, we use Abya Yala (the Cuna); Cemanahuac (Nahuatl); Pacha Mama (Quechua) and Turtle Island.

If there is to be a nation, it will be a process because, in effect, it can be argued that we are peoples in formation. Unfortunately, there is that matter of what Martin Luther King Jr. called the urgency of now. Our peoples continue to be brutalized and killed by law enforcement and continue to die daily in the desert. Perhaps this idea of becoming a nation would have all occurred naturally, due to the demographic shift of this nation, what the right wing terms… and fears: “the browning of the nation” and all that it implies. But all the ugly political developments which have been on full display since the GOP nominee announced his candidacy, especially at his rallies, including the 2016 RNC convention, have laid bare that urgency.

They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds