CHICANAH: a proposal

Chicanah: A Proposal

Chicanah: A Proposal

Chicano, Chicana, [email protected], or Chican o/a, oh wait, is it Chicana/o?

Yea, that. Those annoying abnormal punctuating efforts we have to search our keyboard for in order to properly convey the complimentary dual essence of our identity.

Chicano is a Spanish variation of the Nahuatl word Mexicah.  Mexicah meaning, “the Mexican people” (plural)  and where Mexica(tl) would be singular. Mexicah Tiahui, Indigenous moving forward right?  Unlike Spanish and English, Nahuatl does not have gender specific language or word formations. Yet, I still see many using Chicano (male gender specific) when referring to our collective nation, totally ignoring wombyn,  the life givers of our community.

If in general, a Chicano is “a Mexican-American with a non-Anglo image of himself,” then I believe that is to infer an Indigenous identity. I believe by continuing to use iterations such as [email protected] or Chicana/o, we are displaying a reluctance to completely step into Indigenous values.

Perhaps the reluctance has something to do with the nostalgia of the Chicano Movement of past decades. I know I love those old skool “Chicano Power” stickers and patches my dad would floss back in the 70’s. Whatever the reason, I think it’s important to reflect on this occurrence.

Words create our reality. So,  by being stuck on those European gender specific acrobatic spellings, are we finding it hard to verbally commit to the Indigenous values of our community? Are we sowing imbalance by creating a border between our complimentary relatives?

This is why I propose using the word Chicanah.

Chicanah (chee-kaah-nah) is man and wombyn united . When you say Chicanah you are speaking unity. You are sowing oneness; you are sowing a stronger nation by saying/writing a simple but profound word. No more divisive slashes, dashes, and swirly weird shit.  Spelled in this way, Chicanah is grammatically correct and inclusive.

If as Chicanah, we already embrace Nahuatl as component of rebuilding our indigenous self, and our goal is to decolonize, why continue employing this divisive spirit in our words?

The Word Manifests our Reality. Right?

Be Impeccable with Your Word.


Regaining Our Harmony Through the Tonalpohualli

A great expression from an old grass roots publication newsletter. It beautifully describes a practical importance for the Tonalpohualli. Enjoy

Regaining Our Harmony Through the Tonalpohualli

by Luis R. Pesia

A subject that in my experience in Chicano Studies, or other areas where our ancestral culture is discussed, that is touched upon but never really understood is the count of the daily solar energies, or Tonalpohualli in Nahuatl. The Tonalpohualli is understanding the science of the movement of heavenly bodies such as the sun, the moon, and the other planets.

In many classes that I have taken ranging from Chicano Studies, anthropology, and his-story, the Tonalpohualli is mentioned and superficially described, but its understanding and importance in the lives, societies, and knowledge of o u r “pre-columbian” grandmothers and grandfathers is never brought into the picture.

Tonalpohualli | Aztec Calendar

When I take a look at the civilizations we once had and the countless sites that archeologists now call ruins, I ask myself how it was that we organized ourselves to build our cities, conduct our institutions, and to have that spirituality, the knowledge, and wisdom that represents our traditions ,t  h e Tonalpohualli gives part of the answer to my question.

The Tonalpohualli is the count of the days through the use of 20 signs and the numbers 1-13. The day, the year, and the thirteen day period, I will call trecena in Spanish, are the basic time segments that are given a name of a sign along with a number. For example the year can be 12 tochtli (rabbit), the day 5 kalli (house), and the trecena under the sign of ocelotl.

The trecena is given by the first sign of those thirteen days and each of the twenty signs is a first sign to its own trecena. I can take a lot more space to give further details but, it is better understood when one is taking part in the calculations of your own birthday.

The Tonalpohualli had several important aspects to it that contributed to the well-being of the person and the people as a whole. Daily people were born and according to the position of the planets, the moon, and the earth, the child born acquired certain energies and relationships with the cosmos that defined the characteristics she or he would have in their life.

By being able to know what the child possessed the society could better tell what their strengths and weaknesses were going to be. When a person knows their strengths, they are better suited to do a certain task that in others might be a weakness. By knowing the strength of the child, society would encourage those strengths in that child through schooling and teachings to reach the highest possible attainments and by doing so, be more able to reach a maximum productivity.

In this way every person had their task, had their job that best benefited the people as a whole. When it comes to the child’s weaknesses, she or he were educated to have discipline in those areas and to work on strengthening those weaknesses in order to not disgrace themselves and their family and not become a burden to society.

Another important aspect of the Tonalpohualli was that it provided all with a sense of belonging and importance. By knowing their place in society a person knew their uniqueness and importance to the society at large and therefore the Tonalpohualli gave to the child an identity and a connection to the group.

The tlamatinime gave the child a face, meaning an identity, and a sense of self-worth and self-esteem. A third aspect of the Tonalpohualli and its importance was that it gave the child a name. Depending on the sign and the number that the sign was under determined what the child would be called. An example of this was Ze Akatl Topiltzin

tonal 1

Ketzalzoatl. He was born on the day and year Ze Akatl (one reed) and therefore became part of his name. In this way all were known to all and what their importance was in maintaining the harmony and the balance in society.

In these ways that the Tonalpohualli served the people before the invasion of this western “civilization”, destroyer of our culture, we can apply them to us as [email protected] today. As I look into our  present communities, the lack of identity, of self-worth and self-esteem, and of feelings of alienation are abundant amongst our people, especially the youth.

Mexican and American education have only served to produce “good” citizens that work to keep this system of exploitation, oppression, and destruction going. Our children today have no where to go to make them feel not only wanted but needed. Gangs are the closest thing in our communities that contain some remnants of what the Tonalpohualli offers, such as name giving and a sense of belonging.

Identity is there but as a cholo from a certain neighborhood named after a street, a park, a concept, or a housing project. I feel that the Tonalpohualli can today contribute to redirect our people’s minds, hearts, and lives towards that path which our ancestors walked on. Name giving according to the Tonalpohualli can reinforce an Indigenous identity instead of a foreign Spaniard one.

This negation of our roots contributes to the psychological warfare that this society has been conducting on our people. This material consumer society influences us towards a life of taking, a life of selfishness to do for the individual and not for the community and much less the future generations. In these times we as a people are not creators of anything only imitators of everything that euro¬america has to offer, and that is nothing more than ignorance and stupidity.

There is a reason why the Indigenous population (Xikano, Navaho, Mexika, Maya, etc.) in prison is increasing as well as the atrocities we do to each other. That  reason is to keep us blind to the truths that whites must have slave labor to keep the US and themselves at the top while they destroy the Earth and all of creation through their wars, their technology, and their pursuit of “happiness”. Let us do away with this and at least begin to follow that road to balance and harmony that describes Indigenous societies through the Tonalpohualli if we are really serious in changing things for our  people, our children, and for creation.


Written by: LUIS R. PESIA


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520 Years of Native Resistance



This is a classic and powerful lecture by temachtiani (teacher) Daniel Osuna (1992). A MUST WATCH for everyone – a crash course on the past 520 years of indigenous colonization history and its effects on the present with an emphasis on “Meso-America.”

It is recommended that one first review the Basic Telpochcalli Teachings on Circular Values and The 4 Circles so that they may identify circular/linear values in this lecture. In addition consider how the events and dynamics presented in this lecture have affected our ancestors’ mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional being.

Consider how that has radiated out to the 4 circles of our recent generations. What has been acknowledged? What has been healed? What work still needs to be done? It what ways could it be affecting our mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional states in the present?..our 4 directional family structure?

” In present day society it is many times that the past is made to seem irrelevant to the present, as though it has no purpose in the present.

Of all the events where we find ourselves in the present, of the conditions that we find ourselves in the present, all lie in what’s happened historically. That’s why history is so important, so important.

If you don’t understand history how can you understand the present? If you don’t understand where you’ve been how do you understand where you want to go? ”  

– Temachtiani Daniel Osuna

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Basic Indigenous Ethics

Macehualli Traditional Code of Conduct

This is a list of Basic Indigenous Ethics or Code of Conduct compiled from various sources.  No matter your spiritual experience or knowledge, we all need helpful reminders to keep us on track. The majority of these bullet points on manners and state of mind are from the book The Sacred Tree and random internet posts I’ve come across. You will see these to be good,  practical, and universal teachings. These Indigenous Etiquette  bullet points shed a little more light on the Circular Mentality teaching. When reading this code of conduct please reflect on how the practice  of these can affect The Four Circles.

Macehualli Telpochcalli Ethics

  • Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Who show ignorance, or conceit, and anger, remember, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that all will find right guidance.

  • Respect all things that are placed upon this earth, whether it be people, animals, land, or elements.

  • Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

  • Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will return to you.

  • No person should be made to feel “put down” by you; avoid hurting other hearts as you would avoid a deadly poison.

  • Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

  • Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

  • Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your beliefs on others.

  • Speak in a soft voice, especially when you are in the presence of elders, strangers or others to whom special respect is due.

  • Listen with courtesy to what others say, even if you feel that what they are saying is worthless. Listen with your heart.

  • To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, nation or the world is one of the main purposes for which human beings have been created. Do not fill yourself with your own affairs and forget your most important task. True happiness comes only to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

  • Observe moderation and balance in all things.
  • Know those things that lead to your well-being, and those things that lead to your destruction.

  • Listen to and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms; in prayer, in dreams, meditation,  in times of quiet solitude,  and in the words and deeds of wise elders and friends.

  • Touch nothing that belongs to someone else (especially sacred objects) without permission, or an understanding between you.

  • Respect the privacy of every person. Never intrude on a person’s quiet moments or personal space.

  • Never walk between or interrupt  people that are conversing


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