raul salinas and the poetry of liberation

As originally posted on Varela Film

raúl r salinas and the Poetry of Liberation is an hour long documentary that takes us on a trip through the life Xicanindio poet/activist raúlrsalinas’ and a changing nation told through “medicine stories,” poetry, and the rhythm of jazz. This story examines, the social/political forces that transformed a man from petty criminal to a poet of the people and revolutionary. raúl’s journey includes transformative moments when, he directly engaged the oppressive forces that were attempting to destroy his own life and the people he loved.

His narrative runs through Jim Crow Texas of the 40’s an 50’s, to the trails of migrant workers to the prison rights movement, to the Chicano and American Indian movement with the defense of Leonard Peltier, Cuba, the United Nations in Geneva, to Nicaragua and finally raúl’s years in Austin nurturing the voices of young poets and incarcerated youth. Raul’s story and poetry is a testament to the times when Native people in the United States and Latin American rose up against oppression and colonization and found radical transformation in their quest for liberation.

Through raúl’s story and poetry, in the context of history, we see both the evolution of a true American poet and the birth of new political force in the American politics of resistance movements. This film is currently in production and has received funding from ITVS, Humanities Texas and the NALAC Fund for the Arts, supported in part by the Ford Foundation and JP Morgan Chase.


Latest article, including clip,  on Laura Varela and  “raul salinas and the poetry of liberation” in Sampsonia Way:

Resistencia Bookstore/Red Salmon Arts

Anne Lewis Producer/Editor


For more information: http://varelafilm.org/projects/film/raul-salinas-and-the-poetry-of-liberation/

Decolonize daily: Know your “here and now” with the Agenda Totonaltzin

Available now!

The Agenda and Manual Totonaltzin 2017 (Spanish) is a functional daily planner with plenty of room for notes and contact information.  Detailed descriptions of the corresponding daily numerals, year signs, day signs, trecenas, months (meztli), and other critical information are included.

This count is based on that of Maestro Arturo Meza with additional detail by Maestro Tlacatzin Stivalet.

The Agenda y Manual Totonaltzin 2017 is perfect for those seeking to decolonize as well as for danzantes and ceremony peoples.  The Mexica new year begins on March 11, 2017.

At this time the text is available in Spanish only.  Book dimensions: 7.25″ x 4.75″



Price: $25 + international shipping ($7.50) = $32.50

Delivery within 21 days

The Agenda is produced by Identidad de Anahuac.

The text was written by Dr. Ma del Rosario Gonzalez Lopez (Ollin Yollotzin)
Dra. en Psicologia Clinica y Psicoterapia, UNAM
Maestria en Desarrollo Humano, ITESO
Especialista en Terapia Sistemica y Programacion Neurolinguistica e Hipnosis, IPSO
Diplomade en Derecho Indigena de Anahua, UAEM
Consultorio Clinico en Psicoterapia Individual y Grupal
Capacitacion y Desarrollo Humano


Walking the Red Road on Chicanismo: A platica with Ysidro Macias

Recently we had the honor of interviewing Ysidro Macias, Chicano scholar, attorney, and author, about his latest release, Walking the Red Road on Chicanismo: including Chicano identity teatro plays.

What was the motivating force behind this body of work?

The motivating force is to promote a return to a native consciousness, by discussing the existence of a Red nation native worldview, and then describing the Mexica version of this native worldview.  Any movement of one’s consciousness requires thought, and that is what this book will hopefully accomplish; to get chicanada, from the barrios to the college campuses, to think about who we are within this society and this life.

Was there a reason you chose to publish this book at this time?

At my age, having creative juices is a blessing, so as long as its there, keep working.  This work started out exploring Chicano identity until the espiritus changed my direction into the Red Road orientation.  This change occurred one year ago, and events & expressions since, including the Dakota pipeline issue, confirm that a native awareness is on the horizon.

Why do you believe it is important for our people to decolonize?

“De-colonization” for me means breaking away from the traditions/beliefs inherited from the Conquista.  So long as we live our lives under these traditions/beliefs, we will live such lives as colonized people.  Central to this colonization is the Christian religion, with its worldview that is materialistic and tolerates injustice & inhumanity.  Adoption of a native worldview will allow us to live our lives independent of those stresses Christianity and its interpretations impose on society.

Why did you choose to weave theater into the text?

The teatro pieces are a prior personal creative expression reflecting who I was and what I thought 40 years ago.  They are also pertinent in presenting Chicano identity issues; and that is what the whole book is about anyway, even the adoption of a Red Road orientation is a Chicano identity issue.

Click on image to buy from Amazon.
Click on image to buy from Amazon.

Flesh to Bone: An interview with Tejana indigena writer ire’ne lara silva

Flesh to Bone by ire'ne lara silva
Transcribed by Anayanse Garza of Tu San Antonio Magazine 
ire’ne lara silva

Today we have with us ire’ne lara silva, writer and author from Texas.

Ire’ne’s latest book is called Flesh to Bone.  She’s the author of two chapbooks: ani’mal and INDíGENA. Her first collection of poetry, which is called furia, was published by Mouthfeel Press in October 2010 and received an Honorable Mention for the 2011 International Latino Book Award in Poetry. ire’ne is a Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom award, the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldua Milagro Award, a Macondo workshop member, and a CantoMundo Inaugural Fellow. She and Moises Lara are currently co-coordinators of the Flor De Nopal Literary Festival. 

So, ire’ne, tell us a little bit about where you are from…

A little bit of everywhere.  My parents were migrant truck drivers so they would haul the produce from the fields to the bodegas in each town. You know, so we followed the harvest.  So, we did a little route from South Texas from the Rio Grande Valley up into the Mathis, Corpus Christi area.  Sometimes to Bay City, to Oklahoma, to the Panhandle, to New Mexico, and back to the Valley. So we kind of split our time, you know, doing that little circuit every year.

How do you identify?

I’m ok with being called Latina, with being called Chicana or Xicana, Tejana, but probably what I most identify with would be indigena because I do feel very strongly attached to my indigenous roots. Especially, when in my family history there’s been so much shame, you know, to do with our indigenous ancestry, our indigenous features, you know, our indigenous ways.  And, so, that’s what to me feels the closest.

Can you tell us a little bit about the organizations or projects that you’re a part of and what you invest your time in?

The one right now that is taking the most time is Flor de Nopal.  My brother actually had the idea back in 2008 but I didn’t have the energy until 2011. So we started in 2011 and currently we are in the fourth Flor de Nopal season. And basically we offer free writing workshops and several featured readings every single year. But usually we feature almost 20 writers every year.

We do workshops. We’re under the umbrella of Red Salmon Arts, which is the organizations that Raul Salinas started. And then we are also incredibly supported by the Mexican American Cultural Center here in Austin. They give us workshop space. They give us performance space, publicity and funding.  They’ve been wonderful and it’s been incredible to be able to promote diverse voices.

We do have a commitment to bringing everyone together and making it a space that everyone can come to. You know, even though the focus is on Mexican American writers we’ve invited a little bit of everything.  We’re just look forward to expanding who have been part of Flor de Nopal.

Also I have been working on the board of Red Salmon Arts for the last couple of months.  And so that’s been wonderful because the Red Salmon Arts and Resistencia Book Store for me when I first came to Austin back in ’98, in those first years, it was so receptive. It was my family. It was my community. It was where I was every week.

Over the years I’ve never strayed that far from Resistencia.  In fact, I was just read there yesterday with Laurie Ann Guerrero and Tim Z. Hernandez.  And it still envelopes us.  It still brings people together.  It still provides this unique space that’s just not available anywhere else.

I’m also a part of CantoMundo, although I’ve recently graduated it. So, now I’m involved with it in other capacities.  And otherwise, I’m at work and writing.  So, a little bit of everything.

What is the history of your craft and medicine? How did you come to your process of literary creation?

I would have to say, very, very, slowly. I was telling someone yesterday, I wrote the first lines that are my short story collection probably 20 years ago. But, at the time I didn’t know how to write. I didn’t know what I thought a story was. I didn’t know what I was going to do with these lines of these characters.  Until these little bits of lines just kind of followed me around for years.

And then when I actually really dedicated myself to writing back in ’98, I had to figure out what that meant.  And, then, with each story, you know, most people have an idea of what’s going to happen.  I had no idea what any of the stories were going to be about.  And so I just kind of had to sit with them for a few years and figure it out.

And, then over time polish, and polish, and polish, and polish, and polish.. And a lot of rejection. And a lot of polishing until I came to feel confident, the way I do now, that I’m using the language that I want to use and that I’m telling the stories that I want to tell and that the new stories that I’m writing now are the direction that I want to go in. And I feel very sure about them in a way that it took 20 years of writing to get to.

But, I think also, people write with different intent, with different purposes.  And for me it’s really important that anything I write change and transform me.

I’m not a writer who’s going to write for my own entertainment or for other people’s entertainment.  I’m writing because I’m trying to figure out problems. I’m trying to figure out issues.  I’m trying to figure out transformation or healing.  And, so, if I’m writing working on a book that’s not going to do that for me then I don’t have any reason to write it.

You know, if anyone who writes knows, you know, it’s a long and a involved and very costly process and not just costly in a monetary fashion but costly in an emotionally and physically and psychologically and mentally…I mean, you pour everything into the work.  So, if it’s not going to give me even more, you know, back in that process then I just move to another project.

So, if I’m having trouble with a new one and if it’s taking me a while to figure out, that’s where I’m supposed to be…I’m supposed to be working on something difficult.

And on that note…on the note that it took 20 years, that it took constant polishing, constant revisiting, constant re-visioning, envisioning…what advice would you give to emerging Xicana warriors/artists/creatives?

The first thing would be, and this is actually something that I realized a few months ago that I was trying to talk to someone that was very frustrated with her writing.  And that’s that you can polish a piece, you can go to an NSA program or a school or, you know, go to other people for feedback but there’s a point where you really have to figure out what is useful feedback and what is harmful feedback.

And, sometimes we polish things to the point where everyone else is happy with them but we know that we’re not happy with them.  And what I think we really want…the place we really want to get to, is to a place where there is still some rawness in the work.  Because when a piece is polished it doesn’t have any individuality.

But when a piece is raw, in the way that only you can make it raw, then that becomes a piece that only you could have written.  And, I think it’s in the raw edges. I’m not saying that this is “raw” where as you kind of just throw it on the page and there’s no intent behind it, there’s no art behind it, there’s no discipline behind it.  But raw where you have learned and figured out how to get your individual self on the page or in the art work. That’s where you have, you know, that piece where only you could make.  And, I think that’s what’s the most important – it’s to write the things or create the things that only you could make.  And, it’s sometimes that’s going to be extremely, extremely painful.

I went through years of workshops where I didn’t have sympathetic co-participants. You know, lots and lots and lots of people telling me “oh, this isn’t right,” or “this isn’t the way you should write it” or “this isn’t a story.” You know, and it’s this constant negative feedback but I had to cling to what my idea was of what I was doing.

Sometimes you have to have the support of other people.  This short story collection would not have survived if my brother hadn’t believed in it, you know, if he had not kept me from giving up.  What was it? It was almost 12 years ago.  And it was on a particular day that I remember very clearly where I was about to give up.  So, you’ve got to find people who believe in your vision and keep them really, really close.

What is one thing that you are excited about for the future?

I am really excited that in the next few months I am going to be at several different events in several different readings.  And, I’m just really excited about meeting people who have read the book and who have loved it.  Excited to meet people who are barely beginning to read the book and to meet people who are going to be completely new readers of the book.  And so that’s been really exciting.  Because that’s something, you know, you always dream of that you’re going share what you wrote with other people.

I’m going to be at the book festival the next month and Flor de Nopal will be also up until December. And, then I have a couple of visits to Houston, well nearby but Houston, San Antonio in November and a couple of out of state trips in the Spring.  So, I’m just really, really excited to do that.

That’s awesome. Where can folks find out more about you and your work? 

My site is irenelarasilva.wordpress.com and I tried to make it as informative as possible without it being overwhelming. So, you know, there’s links to things that might be helpful.  There’s links to publications that have published some of my work in case people want to figure out places to start submitting.  Or just other places that are more sort of community focused if they want to submit to.  There’s a couple of interviews that I’ve done and interviews that I’ve had with other people.

I’m also working on a series called, NEFELIBATA interviews with Latina poets, that up on the Letras Latinas Blog.  I just started with those but next up will be Jessica Helen Lopez, who’s the poet laureate for Albuquerque.

I have a little bit of everything. So everyone please feel free to come visit.  And check out what’s on there and write me if you have questions. I’m here.

Flesh to Bone by ire'ne lara silva
Flesh to Bone by ire’ne lara silva

Where can people buy your latest book, “Flesh to Bone”?

A couple of different places.  They can either contact me over email, and a really simple email address [email protected] if you want to find a signed copy. Or you all can go to the Aunt Lute books website and you can order it’s a discounted copy there.  You can also order the ebook version of the book, too.

Codex collection

These are a compilation of links to the sacred texts and codices that remain of the Aztec (Mexica), Mixtec, and Maya.  These are the ancient texts of our indigenous ancestors and represent but a fraction of the entire body of works…most of which were burned.   What was taken from our communities through war and violence is now available online for our generation.  Please share, download, and distribute in the spirit of our warrior ancestors and the generations to come.  These sacred texts represent various understandings of life and cosmovisions across Mesoamerica.

Aztec Codices

Mayan Codices

Mixtec Codices



Archives compiled from: http://www.famsi.org/


Our Sacred Maiz Is Our Mother: Indigeneity and Belonging in the Americas

Republished with permission from the author as originally published on Truthout
By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez

Rodriguez_Cover_9780816530618 copy 2I’ve written or edited several books in my life and each of them have been special, especially since most were banned by Tucson’s school district during the state’s infamous battle in Arizona to eliminate Raza Studies. However, this one, Our Sacred Maíz Is Our Mother, released early by the University of Arizona Press, seems to be a little more special. Perhaps it is so because it speaks to a topic that recognizes no borders and connects peoples from across this continent, and it is a story that arguably goes back some 7,000 years.

The actual title of this book is Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl. Translated, it means  – Nuestro Maíz sagrado es Nuestra Madre – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. Only the English appears on the front cover. However, Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl does appear on the title page, along with the names of 9 Indigenous elders or teachers who contributed maíz origin/creation/migration stories from throughout Abya Yala, Cemanahuac or Pacha Mama – from throughout the continent: Veronica Castillo Hernandez, Maestra Angelbertha Cobb, Luz Maria de la Torre, Paula Domingo Olivares, Tata Cuaxtle Felix Evodio, Maria Molina Vai Sevoi, Francisco Pos, Irma Tzirin Scoop and Alicia Seyler.

Each of the ancestral stories they wrote, or relate, is a treasure unto itself, each from a different people or pueblo from throughout the continent. The same thing applies to the artwork; each one is also a priceless treasure, depicting maíz  in a most special way. The artists include: Laura V. Rodriguez, Tanya Alvarez, Grecia Ramirez, Paz Zamora, Pola Lopez, Mario Torero and Veronica Castillo Hernandez.

Already, I have been asked what the primary message of the book is. Each person will take away something different, but for me, my simple answer is that the title and front cover say it all: Nin Tonantzin Non Centeotl – Our Sacred Maíz is our Mother. For some, no further explanation is required.

The message resonates because it comes from somewhere profound… from a place of ancestors. Its message is: We are people of maíz. This is where we come from. This is what we are made of. This is who we are. Most Indigenous peoples form maíz–based cultures instinctively understand this message.

If you are reading this without seeing, or not having seen, the image, the front cover is a genuine amoxtli or codex unto itself, painted by Laura V. Rodriguez. It tells the ancient Nahua story of Maíz from the Chimalpopoca Codex – of the ants of Quetzalcoatl – and how it is that humans received the maíz. Truly, the imagery and message are both stunning. Again, it is a story, one of many ancient stories actually, that is thousands of years old, stories that were initially suppressed during the colonial era, but now are back, not as part of an extinct culture, but as part of living cultures that exist throughout the continent, including in what is today the United States.

More than that, there is a specific message for peoples of the Americas that have been de-Indigenized, disconnected and severed from their traditions, languages and stories: despite 522 years of European presence, most remain connected to maiz culture. In particular, this applies to peoples with Mexican and Central American and Andean origins that live in the United States. And thus the message: Okichike Ka Centeotzintli or “Made from Sacred Maiz.” After all, many if not most of the peoples from these communities eat maíz (tortillas), beans and chile, virtually on a daily basis. Along with squash and cactus, these foods are Indigenous to this continent.

This is not the message brown children receive in school. It is not the message they receive in the media and it is not the message they receive from government institutions.

The message in the book is that they are not foreigners, that they are not aliens and that contrary to what the US Census bureau promotes, that they are not white. Instead, the message is that they are children of maíz – part of Indigenous cultures on this continent that are many, many thousands of years old.

In effect, this message was banned during the colonial era… and also in present-day Arizona… the whole country, actually. This message, in effect, was made illegal (HB 2281) by politicians who think that only Greco-Roman culture should be taught in US schools. Maíz culture is the story of this continent… though in reality, it is one of the great stories of this continent (salmon, buffalo). These cultures produced not simply civilizations, but also produced values and ethos such as In Lak Ech -Tu eres mi otro yo and Panche Be – To seek the root of the truth. And it is precisely these and related values that were continually attacked during that battle to destroy Raza Studies.

But just as knowledge cannot be destroyed, neither can values and ethos be destroyed. Yes, a program was shut down, but that is temporary.

Another part of the message for this continent is, in Nahuatl: non kuahuitl cintli in tlaneplantla: the maiz tree is the center of the universe. The related message is that for those reasons, it is everyone’s responsibility to protect maiz from the multinational transgenic corporations that have literally stolen and hijacked our sacred sustenance. And it is not just the maíz that they have stolen and desecrated; they have done this or are attempting to do this to all of our crops…not just the sacred foods of this continent, but of the entire world. Because indeed we are what we eat, exposure to highly toxic (pesticides and herbicides) and genetically modified foods is highly dangerous, not simply to human beings and all life, but to the entire planet.

More than part of a de-colonial process, writing this book is part of an affirmation that as human beings, we are sacred because our mother is sacred… and on this continent, maíz is our mother.

This book is a compilation of elder or ancestral knowledge from throughout the continent, and as noted, it contains the simplest of messages, contained in both the front cover and the title.

The simple idea of this book was to counter-act… actually this book is not meant to counter anything. It is meant to affirm the thousands-of-years maíz–based cultures – to affirm that we are Indigenous to this continent – and to assert our full humanity, along with our full human rights, this in a society that brands us as illegitimate, unwelcome and nowadays illegal.

As Indigenous peoples continue to affirm: We cannot be illegal on our own continent. And yet more than that, the simple message of the humble maíz is that there is no such thing as an illegal human being anywhere. That is the primary message of the book.

The Native Americans of the Texas Edwards Plateau, 1582-1799

books“The region that now encompasses Central Texas and northern Coahuila, Mexico, was once inhabited by numerous Native hunter-gather groups whose identities and lifeways we are only now learning through archaeological discoveries and painstaking research into Spanish and French colonial records. From these key sources, Maria F. Wade has compiled this first comprehensive ethnohistory of the Native groups that inhabited the Texas Edwards Plateau and surrounding areas during most of the Spanish colonial era.”


DIRECT LINK:  http://books.google.com/books?id=kYRdAQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=es&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

Participation of Women in Autonomous Government (Freedom According to the Zapatistas, Vol. iii)

“Freedom according to the Zapatistas” school-age textbook series is now available in English.  Participation of Women in Autonomous Government is now available.

Three Zapatista textbooks from the escuelita (little school) have been translated to English and are available online.

In 2013 the Zapatista Escuelita (Zapatista little school), brought 1630 first grade students from different parts of the world to learn “freedom according to the Zapatistas.”

Autonomous Government I / Autonomous Government II / Participation of Women in Autonomous Government are now available for download, and the remaining books will be published at one-month intervals (if not sooner).

The Books:

(Note: the PDF download is of higher quality than the online preview)”