An interview with San Antonio filmmaker Laura Varela
1. Name / location / how you identify
Laura Varela, San Antonio, Texas Yanaguana via El Paso, TX. Xicana.
2. Why did you feel compelled to witness and document this event?
I wanted to support the Water Protectors in Standing Rock and I just wanted to do something anything. This is when people were just starting to come out, before winter, before the assaults by the Morton County Sheriff and private security attacks on people praying. I was compelled to go because of the location to make sure I could be of service somehow even if it just meant documenting.
3. Why was it an historic moment (and location) for our Texas community?
Being from Texas the Alamo has a different meaning if you are Mexican American or Indigenous; this Danza group was going to do ceremony in front of the Alamo. I knew it was historic for both those reasons.
San Antonio is going through a rebirth right now of young people reconnecting with their indigenous roots. Also many Mexican Americans are working to decolonize their minds, diets and ways of life. Part of that decolonizing process is opposing systems and structures that do not protect mother earth, the water and our families. I just wanted to make sure that that event was documented and wanted to share it with the world.
Excerpt from video:
In solidarity with the Water Protectors in North Dakota, in September 2016, Kalpulli Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan and other Danza groups in the United States all dedicated a day of ceremony called Ayoyotes on the Ground. Many ceremonies were held in different cities as well as Standing Rock. The ceremonial Danza and prayer was dedicated to the people of the Standing Rock Reservation and for all those working to protect Mother Earth. This particular historic gathering in San Antonio was held in front of the Alamo; which was originally Mission San Antonio de Valero and built by indigenous labor. Yanaguana is the indigenous name of San Antonio, it means place of clear waters; it had always been a gathering place for the indigenous populations for thousands of years.
Special Thanks to Laura Rios Ramirez, Delia Enriquez, Maribel Hermosillo, and Kalpulli Ameyaltonal Tejaztlan