QUETZALCOATL: Aztlan Profundo and Our Spiritual Connection To Abya Yala (XINACHTLI SERIES)
The Mother Earth runs deep through your soul.
—Aztlán Underground, “Lost Souls” (1995)
In our Indigenous understanding of belonging, and our attempt to build our Xican@/x Nation, Aztlan—which we understand as the united states’ southwest—is a symbol for our deep spiritual ties on Abya Yala, Cemanahuac, or Turtle Island—we are connected here and to the people.
As Gente de Maíz, we emerged here on the lands which have been washed over by the great veil of the western world, of domination. They—the settler, the colonizer—would have us believe that our people, who continue to persevere with ancestral resiliency under their oppressive frameworks, are not Natives to these lands. Being displaced from our homelands after conquest, colonialism, and neoliberalism, now in the united states, Aztlan tells us different: we do have a connection to these lands.
The settler in power would have us believe we are “mestizo”; that, because of “mestizaje,” we are no longer Indigenous; this is our demise and subjection to destructive colonial thinking and structures.
Con fuerza, I actively work towards dismantling this problematic notion, which seeks to suppress and repress the very roots to these lands which our ancestors traversed: that, because of de-Indigenization, we have no claim to what our ancestors have struggled to survive and pass on. We have a right to reclaim our Indigeneity.
Our history in this hemisphere is foundational in positioning the narratives of Native People in regards to invasive settlers: we come to center an Indigenous perspective and experience of knowing, being, and acting—of their stories, songs, and ceremonies. We must address how we came to be and how power has worked through nation-states on this continent.
When we speak of what settler colonization has done to this hemisphere—destroying land, water, air, people and our body, mind, and spirit —we begin to recognize the damage brought by european settlers, which continues today. The glorification of globalization, of hyper-capitalism, of neoliberalism, and of the hegemony of the western world on these lands is to legitimize the values of imperialism and erasure of Indigenous people.
Our current and contemporary society has been structured by racializations based on whiteness and white supremacy: colorism becomes the rule in the United States—all Communities of Color are subject to racism and discrimination based by the intersectionalities of identity, i.e. documentation, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and so on.
These systems of hegemony have allowed our own people—Gente de Maíz—to be relegated to the margins of society and to be told that these are not our lands: they say we are not Indigenous. The processes of dominance shape the narrative to fit their existence, their power, and their investment to be white.
As I come toward my spiritual awakening,
I seek to understand the Four Directions,
The sacred Nahui Ollin.
I open my mind to Ometeotl:
The representation of dualities on Mother Earth,
Of the sacred cosmos,
The creating energies of the Universe.
I learn to pray to Tonantzin,
To dig my hands under the Red soil
And cultivate these lands with Maíz
In preparation of another seven generations.
Centeotzintli: the history of our people
Told in stories that we were created
7,000 years ago.
This is our story:
Non kuahuitl centli in tlalnepantla.
When I open my spirit to Aztlan,
In ixtli, in yollotl,
With all my relations,
I find my roots from a rootless existence.
In Lak’ech becomes my connection to all my
Gente de Maíz,
Grounding my lost soul to these lands of Abya Yala.
So I continue to grow
Under the guidance of
Lead by the direction of Panche Be,
I seek the truth in my roots.
As a Xicano it is my responsibility
To uncover for my familia
De la Raza,
It is that deep
Searching for reconnection.
As we all come to this
Of our lives,
We will one day chant with our cuicatl:
To reclaim Aztlan is to recognize a unity for our people, which extends to la Raza diaspora under the illegitimate border of the nation-state of the United States. This also means our connection to the Indigenous struggle here in the U.S., thus bridging our struggles of all Indigenous Nations of this hemisphere.
The realization that these struggles are our duty to act upon and speak out on is needed in our collective movement toward liberation. As de-Indigenized people, we have also been met with oppositions which situate our existence as nothing more than what nation-state powers have given us: a nationality based and established by colonial powers.
Our Xican@/x people who recognize their positionality and take action to establish themselves on these lands already understand themselves as Indigenous. To reclaim Aztlan and connect again to la tierra de nuestros antepasados is a grounding of Indigeneity.
Thus we must start to conceptualize our Xican@/x Nation, not based on normative configurations of what some have defined as essentialist and associated with the nation-states of México or the United States, but one which acknowledges pan-Indigeneity across this hemisphere.
This is the work I propose by articulating what Aztlan profundo means in our collective memory and present lives, which will identify our spiritual roots to Abya Yala.
The time to understand and discuss our sovereignty as a people must come soon. To align to nation-state identities, thus providing colonialism the energy to sustain itself, we continue to be left with colonial institutional powers defining who we are. Working toward reforming colonial legacies, i.e. believing these structures of oppression can be mended, is a struggle which has persisted for too long. Our cultural and political destinies are subsumed by these types of movements, and the liberation of our people is out of the scope in reformist politics.
(Re)Indigenizing our communities, to educate our Raza on the potential for community-building as a Xican@/x people, allows us to begin this process of creating and determining what Aztlan means to us.
Our familias possess a knowledge that is able to culminate into something beautiful. Our spiritual connection to Abya Yala gives us the hope we need. Our Nation building, not to be confused as representing a nation-state, but our Indigenous Nation, will consist of a heterogenous Raza who embrace themselves as Xican@/x.
What we focus here are the teachings of Quetzalcoatl. We must dig in our memory and identity in which we share, one which we can reflect and define with purpose and meaning: this is one I embrace with [email protected]/x.
It is our responsibility as a conscious and learning people to orient ourselves toward a spiritual awakening rooted in these lands, and to begin those processes of decolonization.
Understanding Aztlan profundo, we start here to set our eyes on our Indigeneity, our history, and our conocimiento.
Author’s note: I have lower-cased certain words, such as proper nouns, as a political acknowledgement of power in language. This is evident in my choosing to lower-case words such as “european” and “united states” for their historical and contemporary oppressive structures and actions. I have chosen to capitalize instead words which have been relegated to not being propers, such as “Native,” “Indigenous,” and “Raza.” This was to recognize , again, the power of language by reversing what was superior and inferior, disrupting those dynamics in the way we write words. I also italicized specific words to highlight their significance and to stress their importance.
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