Interview transcribed by Chief Alejandria
My name is Chief Leti, and I represent the Nahuatl people of Armería, Colima. The Nahuatl are the largest ethnic group of Mexico and parts of Central America.
In Mexico, there are many indigenous people groups. Northern Mexico has a lot of indigenous nations, which means that many ethnic groups are divided by the fake colonial borders of the u.s.
My father taught me to understand the indigenous perspective, instead of the colonial one, and to understand our people’s history. He left his homeland to escape the plunder of Colonialism, not because he hated his Indigeneity or that he loved mestizaje, the concept of racial mixing between Indigenous people and colonizers.
The Nahuatl nation’s history before european contact
A lot of Mexican history has been altered. Sometimes it’s falsely constructed by bougie academics, or sometimes by Chicanos who represent mestizo (mixed-race) people and who misrepresent Aztlan people by aligning with narratives of white power.
The notion of Aztlan, the famed home of the Aztec nation, is something that has been appropriated by Chicanos to fulfill their settler mestizo wet dream.
However, Aztlan is a piece of our history and a reality for Nahuatl people. Nahuatl people who now represent my state were being oppressed by the Aztec empire and so we went to modern-day Colima, Mexico. We fled Aztlan due to the imperial violence between our own nations.
Mythology of King Coliman
The Nahuatl people established themselves in the state of Colima where there is this huge volcano. There we were able to be free from the Aztec Empire. Colima is named after King Coliman who was a great protector of us and also of the Purepecha people.
In Colima, where my family is holding it down, we have the most active volcano in Mexico. My dad tells me that there are other volcanos in Mexico that move us like magma throughout the land and bring us to new places.
For us, the volcano is part of our symbolic connection to the land. It is also a material part of Coliman indigenous nations like Nahuatl and others.
King Coliman united us to defeat the Aztec Empire when it continued to expand (as all empires do) and once more threaten the people of Colima.
Colonizers came and appropriation followed
After fleeing Aztlan, some Nahuatl people settled and stayed a part of the Aztec empire, while others continued to flee, spreading throughout the land.
Unfortunately, at this time, the Spanish conquistadors came through and colonized all of the Indigenous people, including the people of Aztlan, the Aztec empire, and those who fled.
In our people’s origin story, we saw an eagle with a snake in its claws on top of a cactus. This imagery is now appropriated as the emblem on Mexico’s flag.
The appropriation of my culture runs deep. Settlers, Mestizos, and Pretendians are trying to be quirky by claiming indigenous nationhood without doing the work. The work of combating white power, and aligning with the working class African and Indigenous colonized masses.
The origins of Aztlan people describe floating cities with gardens and canoes to travel. Venice who? I don’t know her. Colonizers love to pretend that they invented beautiful cities, but they just copy and steal. Even places like Tenochtitlán, Occupied Mexico City, has been appropriated by imperialists.
Language of the Precolonial world
Because of colonization, it’s been hard to learn about precolonial history. Now, the Nahuatl language is widespread and there are many different dialects.
Currently, I’m learning some terms from a Veracruz dialect of Nahuatl people using an app. Still, because of colonialism, I don’t know what my people’s regional dialect is.
The colonizer’s languages of Spanish and English are forced on people through assimilation, and when my dad was pressured to learn Spanish, he lost his regional dialect.
The fact that I know these colonized languages is a mixed blessing. I appreciate talking to other colonized people who speak Spanish, and this allows me to connect with colonized people from all over.
Central and South American people are shamed into not knowing Spanish because of mestizo people. They feel it’s shameful to not know Spanish, but in actuality, it’s even more shameful for colonizers to continue their colonization!
Wrapping it up
I want everyone to learn about their colonized nations’ history as well as colonial history to understand why colonized people make the trip to the united snakes.
A lot of this history can be hidden by the miseducation system, so it’s great for everyone to share their history.
People will come to the belly of the beast with all variations of gender, sexuality, age, body type, location, religion, language, mental/physical differences and/or bi/multiracial identities.
But regardless they come here as a Colonized person, which under our second Principle of Unity states that all colonized people are equal.
Black Hammer Western Region has many Mixteco people in our area, and we’re planning on doing outreach because many of them work in the agricultural fields where their health is at risk due to the pandemic, and because they and their children struggle for employment and education.
Also, we are starting prison outreach to combat corruption in Oxnard, California. This is a way to combat incarceration!
Housing issues are also intense here: the Thomas Fire caused a huge amount of homelessness in my area.
We want to build another Hammer City here to overturn this contradiction! We are starting a Housing plan to get us away from parasitic landlords.
Join Black Hammer’s Western Region chapter!! Donate to $BlackHammerWest
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