Beyond Daca: Toward A Native Understanding Of Nationhood

Republished with permission
Via Deceleration News ·  · in Podcast.

Tupac Enrique Acosta (right) teaches youth as part of TONATIERRA’s Indigenous cultural education programs known as Xinachtli (Seed). 

Last week, Deceleration ran an article by Bettie Lyons of the American Indian Law Alliance calling on people of conscience to understand DACA from an Indigenous People’s perspective. To delve more deeply into the geopolitical underpinnings of this call, Deceleration co-editor Marisol Cortez spoke with Tupac Enrique Acosta of TONATIERRA, a grassroots Indigenous Peoples Self Determination movement organization that grew out of decades of community organizing among undocumented workers and families in Arizona. Enrique-Acosta challenges the colonial conceptualizations of nationhood and citizenship in the Americas that contextualize most of the conversation about US immigration policies, even among those seeking to defend and uphold “immigrant rights” from virulent white nationalists like Arpaio and Trump. In EnriqueAcosta’s words, the descendants of the original nations of Indigenous Peoples of Abya Yala (or Turtle Island) could never be “immigrants on our own continent.”

For Enrique-Acosta, the frontline in the struggle to defend the Human Rights of “immigrant constituencies” from an indigenous perspective is conceptual, requiring a “cognitive revolution” that takes us down to the very roots of Western colonial thought structures, the schema of nationhood, citizenship, community and culture. “For us,” he says, “our constitution of nationhood is planetary. And specific, according to our own particular languages, traditions, and most importantly, ecological responsibilities to the territories that are our homelands. So there’s a completely different conception [and] terminology when we speak of our migrations and our responsibilities. And based on that, we confront the government state system at the UN—including the US, including Mexico, including Canada—and we challenge them to clarify that point. Yes, your governments; yes, your states. We, however, are really the nations. Because we emerge, nacemos, every day, every dawn, from the sacred relationship to the land, the water, the air, and the fire. And that is our constitution. It’s our reality. And it’s also very scientific. As well as having a very spiritual inflection. “It has to do with this, exactly this, the fundamental question: What is it to constitute a constituency of human society that is not a derivative of colonization?” Acosta ends with a call for Deceleration listeners to shift their own understanding of immigrant rights as Indigenous rights as universal and inalienable human rights: “The US government is party to the United Nations Human Rights Declaration, and since 2007 our rights as Indigenous people have been given recognition as being equal in terms of human rights to any other people in the world. We’re asking your listeners to rally, if they consider it appropriate … to say human rights cannot be deferred.” Listen to the full podcast conversation here:

Semana de Cultura Tradicional Mexicana: Tonala (PDF workbook) Español

Buy now / Compra ahora

A 5-day printable PDF workbook for elementary age students about the traditional culture of Tonalá, Jalisco. Available only in Spanish.

Perfect for families, elementary schools, and home school students.

Semana Cultural Tradicional Mexicana: Tonalá

Paquete de estudio (libro imprimible PDF) con actividades y materiales sobre la cultura tradicional mexicana. Perfecto para escuelas, familias, y estudiantes.



Xica Media ofrece un paquete de estudio (libro imprimible PDF) con actividades y materiales sobre la cultura tradicional mexicana de Tonalá, Jalisco. Estas actividades propuestas cumplen con el Nuevo Modelo Educativo, cumpliendo con cada punto pedagógica de los requisitos dentro de los Campos de Formación Académica, Áreas de Desarrollo Personal y Social, y Ámbitos de la Autonomía Curricular.

En este paquete encontraras cuentos locales de Tonalá donde los estudiantes analizan la importancia de los cuentos regionales. También el paquete incluye un escrito breve sobre la matemática y ciencia nahua donde los estudiantes podrán practicar matemáticas con los símbolos nahuas. Practican los idiomas como el español, náhuatl, e inglés. Hay actividades para que conozcan como era la música prehispánica y los instrumentos, así como conocer elementos básicos y físicos de la danza mexica tradicional.

Escrito por Iris Rodriguez y Yacer Ventura

Publicado por Xica Media

© 2018 Xica Media

Todos Derechos Reservados / All Rights Reserved

Uncolonized: Native experiences in public education, Opting out of public school

An upcoming film about native experiences in public education and one family’s decision to opt out of public school.

Via Uncolonized

Uncolonized is a short documentary film about a native family who decided never to enroll their two daughters into the public school system, choosing instead to homeschool them from birth. Chris is Potawatomi and Chasity is Navajo. Their daughters Nathaney and Mimicah, ages 11 and 7 at the time of filming, carry both of their parents’ lineages in the their blood, but also in their way of being. The film takes a critical look at the historical experiences of native children inside of the US public education system, and brings clarity to the decision of this family to keep their daughters out of the public school system, and therefore keep them UNCOLONIZED.

Please DONATE to support the Uncolonized film tour:

Film by Comunicación Combativa

Fundraiser for the Quiroz Family and Indigenous Roots (MN)

Maryanne and Sergio Quiroz and family

Maryanne and Sergio Quiroz and their children are the co-founders and heartbeat of Indigenous Roots, a multicultural community center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Whether they are creating positive spaces for cultural exchange, on the ground supporting indigenous communities in front line resistance, supporting their children in prayer journeys to defend Mother Earth, or preserving and sharing the sacred steps of the Danza Mexica through Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, they show up for their community and their ancestors…with their kids.

In May of 2017 they succeeded in opening a multicultural center, Indigenous Roots, which has served to weave a diverse community fabric in St. Paul and abroad.  However, this past December, the family was hit hard with an unexpected layoff by Maryanne’s employer, Dayton’s Bluff Community Council, that received public criticism and left many families devastated just before the holidays. This has been very difficult on the Quiroz family as it has placed them in financial jeopardy.

Xica Nation and Xica Media networks are asking for your help in standing up and showing support for the Quiroz family.

Please donate here:

Young Xicana Inspires Kindness

by Tlecoz Huitzil

Mayeli Xinatli Paredes-Zavala

Mayeli Xinatli Paredes-Zavala was recently awarded the Kind Hero Award by her elementary school in southwestern Michigan. A ceremony was held in the school auditorium to give her the award on December 1, 2017.

The first Xicana in her school to receive the award, Mayeli is also the first second-grader in the school to receive the award, which is given once a month at her school. It is part of a new program to teach children the value of kindness and foster suicide prevention. Mayeli received the award for finding money a little boy lost in the school cafeteria which he planned to use to purchase books at the book fair. She turned the money in to school staff who was able to locate and return it to the little boy who lost it. In addition to being a role model of kindness in school Mayeli’s accomplishments also include helping her mother obtain donations of food for the local food shelter to help underprivileged families.

Last year Mayeli spoke to attendees of the “Thumbprint Conference” held on the campus of Prescott College in Arizona, and earlier this year she delivered an inspiring message to attendees of the “Juvenile Lifer Rally for Justice” in Detroit, Michigan, calling for the community to support an end to life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. In response to receiving her Kind Hero Award Mayeli stated she hopes “to inspire more kids to be kind.” When asked about her aspirations in life Mayeli says she wants to become President of the United States of America and a fashion designer. She says she would like to be both.

Mayeli is the daughter of parents Maria Zavala-Paredes and Efren Paredes, Jr. Maria is a community organizer and founder of the “Dia de la Mujer Conference” held annually at Michigan State University to celebrate Xicana/Latina womyn’s accomplishments. It is the largest conference of its kind in the Midwest. Congratulations to Mayeli for her acts of kindness and activism. She is a model of young Xicana leadership other Xicanitas can learn from.

Ayoyotes On The Ground: A short film by Laura Varela

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

Indigenous Existance is Resistance in Texas: Yanaguana Indigenous People’s Week

By Iris Rodriguez

Recently in Texas, the Yanaguana Indigenous People’s Week was announced, a calendar of events celebrating indigenous roots across the territory.  This is historic, given the history indigenous peoples in Texas.  Six nations have imposed their flag upon the territory, which is part of an ancestral intercontinental trade route that lead to enchanted forests and sacred peyote medicine gardens that existed long before borders were erected.

Texas peoples were devastated by European diseases shortly after Spanish arrival in Mexico, later missionized by the Spanish in two separate periods (1519–1685; 1690–1821), occupied by France (1685–1690), then Mexico (1821–1836), followed by the Republic of Texas (1836–1845), the Confederate States of America (1861–1865), and lastly the United States of America (1845–1861; 1865–present).[1]

For a millennia parts of the Texas territory were considered holy lands by peoples from across the continent.  Yet Texas is also a birthplace of Monsanto and Agent Orange, the home of fracking, and the base of the petrochem industry.  This is not coincidence – and it’s ties to indigenous history (and subsequent ursurption of land/culture and exploitation of said bodies) cannot be ignored.  Natives have been outlawed for expulsion and or death since 1838 and Indian Removal programs continue through today masked as anti-immigrant legislation (SB4).  We remain under attack at many levels physically and culturally in many ways (including, but not limited to) the proliferation of colonial perspectives via “Texas Edition” history textbooks, celebration of colonial and Confederate personalities, native mascots for sports teams, the desecration of our sacred sites, lack of tribal recognition, and the attack against women’s healthcare (in particular, low-income women and WOC).

The ongoing war on brown wombs, minds, and bodies has gone for hundreds of years, with its vernacular becoming more refined in each generation – yet somehow we remain.  Some still remember family names and life ways and others of us have been born into a geographical and cultural borderland that doesn’t offer most of us tribal ID cards or equal treatment, much less our native tongues and histories.  Many families now have a lineage of serving as soldiers, especially with all branches of the military establishing headquarters and bases in San Antonio.  They have many names for us such as mestizo, Hispanic, and Latinx – all which imply cultural and blood quantum politics to disconnect us from our historical memory and and justify (via self identity labels) the ongoing occupation and desecration of our ancestral homelands.  There have been moments in history when our peoples began to call themselves Mexican to avoid being identified as Indian.

For many of us it is a difficult journey to decolonize and re-member who we are as a people.  The English and the Spanish are always emphasized, linguistically and culturally.  To some, we are immigrants because of our ties to present-day Mexico; to others we are cultural sell-outs because we don’t speak Spanish or know the names of the tribes we come from;  and to others we still have a seat at the sacred fireplace because of our ancestral relationship with the peyote medicine.  Somehow through it all we continue to exist – and resist.  People are coming together and prayer dances are spreading like fire across the territory as we reconnect ourselves to our relatives and identities.  Our front lines are vast and extend from the city barrio to the resistance camps along the pipelines.

Last year, an historic march was held against the Dos Republicas mine in Eagle Pass, Texas.  It united and evoked the presence of hundreds of indigenous peoples and communities and affirmed a quiet yet growing sentiment of individual/collective action to re-member and re-root ourselves into the land as a part of our journey to “wake up,” decolonize, and stand with our indigenous relatives in existence and resistance.  This year, the Yanaguana Indigenous People’s Week was announced by the Texas Peace and Dignity Journeys Committee in an event list meant to “keep our people informed of the diverse efforts to exert our existence and resistance through education, art, advocacy and protest.”

Community organizer, educator and danzante Madelein Santibanez shared these words about the event:

As Indigenous people we recognize the importance of walking on the path of justice, living in balance with our environment, honoring all our relations, and remembering our stolen history. But our mere presence is complicated by its fraught relationality to the persistence of settler colonialism, which always threatens to reappropriate, assimilate, consume and repress Indigenous identity and spirituality. They claimed victories over our bodies and continue to exploit our mother earth, but we continue to create, educate, organize, pray, love and survive.

The Yanaguana Indigenous Peoples Week of Events is a collective process and  undertaking that expresses the historical and ongoing Indigenous resistance and resurgence that many of our ancestors, spiritual elders and community leaders like Susana Almanza and Raul Salinas (may he rest in power) began generations ago.

As we present one calendar for all events happening throughout Yanaguana- acknowledging the traditional territories spanning from Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio, TX- we give thanks to the guardians of these lands and all those who came before us that paved the way for us to be here and assert our human rights.  Our indigenous existence is our resistance.

Yanawana in the Carrizo language “place where I rest my head” -acknowledging traditional territory spanning Austin, San Marcos and San Antonio, TX – we present one calendar for all events ❤️💪🏾#traditionalterritories

Defend the Sacred Rio Grande from the Dos Republicas Coal Mine
· Hosted by Equilibrio Norte and ATXEJ – Austin Environmental Justice Team

Finding Sanctuary in the Borderlands Conference Symposium
· Hosted by Center for Women in Church and Society at Our Lady of the Lake University

Indigenous People’s Community Day
· Hosted by Yasmeen Dávila and 6 others

1st Official Indigenous People’s Day Austin, come celebrate!
· Hosted by Equilibrio Norte and ATXEJ – Austin Environmental Justice Team

Re~membering Sacred Offerings for Abya Yala (the Americas)
· Hosted by AP Art Lab

2017 Sacred Springs Powwow
· Hosted by Sacred Springs Powwow and Indigenous Cultures Institute

OCT 15
Yanaguana Eastside Barrio Run
. Hosted by Texas PDJ

Madelein Santibanez is community organizer, educator and danzante born and raised on the Eastside of San Antonio. Her Indigenous background is rooted in the Pure’pecha and Mexica traditions. Through In Xochitl In Cuicatl (Song & Dance), she preserves an ancient tradition of prayer and storytelling.  She works with the Martinez Street Women’s CenterKalpulli Ameyaltonal TejaztlanTexas Peace and Dignity JourneysWarrior RootsSociety of Native Nations Youth Council, and is on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Workers Union.

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:

Environmental crisis looms over Houston via chemical & oil industries after Hurricane Harvey

Photo by Bryan Parras

From the flooded streets of Houston, longtime community warrior Bryan Parras of TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services) has been on the ground in his city documenting the damage caused by hurricane Harvey.  Through live feeds he and the TEJAS family have been keeping a careful eye on the hurricane’s impact in the community and in particular communities already dealing with contamination and environmental justice issues, most of which are communities of color.   These extra circumstances of “multiple marginality,” such as being undocumented or being from a low-income neighborhood already experiencing contamination, add extra layers of crisis to an already devastating situation in which people facing life and death can’t escape and ask for help, much less ask corporate companies already violating human rights to take extra measures of precaution during a natural disaster.

Below are a few clips that detail what is happening on the ground in these neighborhoods:

  • Interviews with Democracy Now and the environmental crisis unfolding in Houston
  • A live taping of the Nuestra Palabra show discussing the situation around Hurricane Harvey
  • A live toxic tour around Houston that was broadcasted on FB live during the first days of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival

If you would like to support the critically important work that Bryan and the TEJAS family are doing, please donate to them here: