We of this generation are faced with great challenges as the survivors of genocide living through the seemingly incessant inter-generational attack on our communities, our lands, our cultures and way of life. Reconciling hundreds of years of stolen knowledge, decolonizing while trying to survive capitalism and colonial governments, and raising conscious children who bridge thousands of years of sacred knowledge with modern technology seem like impossible feats given the circumstances – yet it is happening. Our existence is our resistance. And despite the over saturation of negative information, false information, and colonial culture and its paradigms, the generations (living and passed) of our tribe/families/nations are coming together, weaving a fabric that is allowing us all to restore our respective life ways, our collective humanity, and life on the earth.
Recently Xica Nation had the honor of connecting with Atquetzali Quiroz a 15-year-old danzante and earth defender from Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her parents, Mary Anne and Sergio Quiroz, lead Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli and are deeply involved community building and cultural preservation across the U.S. and Mexico. They recently opened a multicultural center, the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, a collective, safe space where indigenous and immigrant peoples of many nations come together. (You may remember them a viral video from last year of their group as they entered and offered danza the Sacred Stone camp.) Xica Nation had the pleasure of speaking briefly to Atquetzali about her recent participation in the Paddle to Protect project.
What is your name/age? Where are you from? How do you identify?
My name is Atquetzali Quiroz. I am 15 years old from St. Paul, Minnesota. I am Indigenous Mexica Nahua and Filipina.
What is Paddle to Protect? Where is it located? Who is involved?
The Paddle to Protect is a 250 mile canoe journey bringing awareness to Line 3, which is a pipeline that goes through Northern Minnesota and crosses the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Reservations. The Paddle started at Itasca/ the headwaters of the Mississippi river and went downstream to Big Sandy lake. The significance of Big Sandy Lake is it is one of the places that will greatly be affected by Line 3 but also, in 1850 over a hundred Ojibwe people were killed by the US government. There were six core youth paddlers all Indigenous or youth of color. There were a few indigenous and non indigenous adults also there to support.
What are some of the highlights of your experience with Paddle to Protect?
I loved getting to know the rest of the youth on the trip. Before the trip I had never met most of the youth or I had just met them within the past year, it was amazing becoming closer to everyone. I enjoyed being able to experience how my ancestors lived, being close to mother earth and the water. It was also amazing to see the different scenery the river runs through, from swamp to forest to city.
How can the public support you/this project?
You can support the cause by visiting the links and learning more about pipelines and the affect they have on people and Mother Earth. With the knowledge you gain, educate others about what you have learned. Look up local pipelines in your area and bring awareness to them.