I come from Texas. I am indigenous. I am Xicana.
We might not remember her indian names any more but Texas was and is holy land. You see, for the past 12,000 years my territory has sustained life. She even has her own 4,000+ year old creation story written on the walls in her ancient cave dwellings.
I come from where the medicine grows, a sacred geography considered by peoples from north to south for thousands of years as a sacred hunting ground. Since time immemorial tribes and families have traveled to and through my land…to bless themselves with the sacred waters of the Yanaguana, a birthplace of humanity…to hunt the sacred deer and buffalo…to collect the sacred mezcal seed for ceremony… to harvest the sacred peyote to connect with Creator, the ancestors and the universe.
My territory was what wasichu call an “Eden” – a living natural altar. And one of her names was Yacatsol.
Over the past 12,000 years my land has served as a home, a natural altar, a refuge a ceremonial hunting ground and important geographical historical place of exchange and connection between peoples of many nations. Tribes from the northern tip to the southern tip of the “Americas” would make intergenerational ceremonial journeys to come harvest and hunt in this holy land.
But with the arrival of the wasichu death also arrived. 95% of our peoples, who lived as families (kinship networks) – not “tribes” – died. Without having a white body enter our Eden, the wasichu germ killed with no remorse. And for every single generation since then, the waves of whiteness that invaded since that time have cast us out (spiritually, emotionally and even physically) of our holy land through disease, occupation and war. Our sacred springs fell to a universally and spiritually disconnected peoples who had lost their way long before they arrived to my land.
My land provided the first points of contact between my abuelitxs and the Spanish and French expeditions to chart the continent. Sadly it also made history as the first place in this continent where wasichu started asking “for papers.” The story goes that a grandfather, son and grandson were on their way to their sacred hunting ground near Austin when a white soldier stopped and asked the grandfather to “show him papers” allowing him to be present on the land. (At that time, “the border” was the space around the stolen land the wasichu were then occupying.) Our warrior grandfather answered: “These are our sacred hunting grounds. I came to hunt here with my son and grandson. I have hunted here as a boy with my grandfather, as he did with his father and his grandfather before him. We do not need your papers.”
Fast forward to today: our land is so full of wasichu grandchildren we have forgetten that it’s ours any more. Now they call us things like “immigrants” at seeing the tones of the local earth still living on our skin. Our sacred sites have been nearly desecrated although our tribal names have long since been buried. Our land was given wasichu names to cut us…Edwards Plateau…Barton Springs…Austin…San Antonio…and other foreign names of European psychosis. I come from a city named after a white saint…and religion who promotes the idea that suffering is humility and is required to go to “heaven.” And we have been suffering for 500 years to get to that piece of heaven which we were shielded from seeing – the very land we come from.
Even their elders – who come from a people that burned their own grandmothers at the stake and called them witches – now forcefully rape the land through fracking, shooting untold amounts of chemical deep into the dirt to “see how much oil comes up” while disregarding the death they cause to the animals or people that still live there.
My people and our relatives who have the traditional trade and medicine routes embedded in our DNA, are now treated as criminals on our land. We have been debased with waves of wasichu greed, occupation and legalese. And our territory remains under colonial occupation by a government now called the “United States of America,” a combination of false words and foreign names to hide and bury the truth. The version of American “history” that is socially programmed is one of the most powerful tools of colonialism that persists today. Labels like “immigrant” to describe indigenous peoples across Cemanahuac (the “Americas”) are a great example of the great wasichu crime against our humanity and connection to the earth.
Now the wasichu are using our ancestral holy land to imprison non-european-language-speaking native women and children that their wasichu greed is debasing in Central and South America. For 500 years now our universal understanding and connection with nature has been beheaded by the wasichu, so many of us walk around in whiteface with no context and no historical base. Wasichu knows no color now. It is not a people…it is a paradigm. Many vote in the wasichu system and talk about “being American now” by citing the journeys across wasichu borders as “immigration” stories from “Mexico.” We’ve been instructed sometimes even by our own parents to identify as White on the census. Or that the reason we have Spanish surnames is because we have that one abuelita from Spain.
They used to say we were a people without heads – and that is a lie because many of us were born into the wasichu paradigm and did not choose to be blinded.
But in this moment, 500 years into a war against us and our ancestral homelands, we are starting to wake up. We are starting to remove the blindfolds that many of our parents had put on us for protection from the wasichu. The elements, the animal and plant relations that are left of our sacred territories are speaking to us in languages we are slowly beginning to reconnect with and decipher.
The blood within us is beginning to boil and the names of our land, our sacred places and our abuelitxs are being uttered in the wind to all of us who still have that connection in our DNA. And those of us that are listening, are returning to the old way…speaking to nature and the universe directly again…praying with our warrior ancestors…organizing physical, spiritual and social resistance…and rebuilding our nation and relationships with the world around us.
I am from Texas. I am indigenous. I am Xicana. And in the same way that my liberation is tied to yours, the liberation of our land and the earth is also inextricably intertwined to us.
We must continue to resist. We must continue to decolonize.