Q: How long did the journey take?
A: It took the Mexica people a little bit more than two hundred years,
[according to] one of the versions, which is 1064 to 1325. The Codice
of Tira de Aztlán doesnt come up, quite, to 1325, but [about]
1300. Thats when it stops, but there is another codex that complements
this, the complete set, which is the Codex Obin, with the rest of the
years that happened.
It is a very important moment at this time right now, because its
one flint, again. If we, if we count how many cycles of 52 years, which
were like the centuries, there is 18, so 18 times 52 give, gives us the
cycle, right now, of this moment, that comes along with the new sun. This
18 times 20 marks the the solar year, 360 days, plus five point 25. So
this is like a new sun. A new--moment.
Q: How has this research of going back to your roots empower you?
A: In the nineteen seventies, the Chicano Movement posed many questions
to the youth of that moment: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am
I going? I guess its a question that has been raised all the time.
But at that moment, when youre young and you need to be answered
immediately, you follow your heart. And so at that moment, I was into
already mural painting and through the arts I was able to meet Siqueiros.
This was a very important part of my life. From college [I went] directly
to Mexico, because one of our main goals was to fill all of Aztlán
This was important also because in my history, and I can imagine, other
Chicanos of the time, we had things that were very discriminatory, like
having our mouths washed out with soap because we spoke Spanish, in grammar
school. Things like that made you feel that you werent a first class
citizen. You werent worthy of speaking your own tongue or having
your own traditions. [You were] humiliated all the time. And so with this
question, with this need to answer this, I went to Mexico. And so, thirty
years ago, I began my own journey of Aztlán, trying to discover
[the answers to] all of these questions. And its when I [met] the
Mascarones Theater Group, that was based in Mexico City, and we would
go to the different organizations or schools or if there was a strike
with workers, we would go there. If there [were] campesinos, or farm workers,
had taken over certain lands, we would be invited.
So [I received] this new type of education [from the] university of life,
of what Mexico was at that time. And [I was] also penetrating into the
Nahuatl philosophy with works of Netzahualcoyotl, began to answer, more
philosophically, all of these questions that I had at that time.
Personally, I am from Raramuri origin. My family migrated to the United
States from Chihuahua, the northern state of Mexico, and so on both sides
of my family, I have that Raramuri blood in me, so there was also a need
to answer all of these questions. This desperate search for understanding
all of this made me also try to find exchange within my own classmates
in the university with the Mascarones Group, so we started an exchange
that culminated in an incredible festival that we had with people that
came in from all of the continent, but mostly Chicanos. So this was a
very important moment of the Movement, I think, because about seven hundred
people traveled in black to Mexico City. And thats the same idea,
trying to recognize each other, because until then the Chicano people
were considered like pochos, also in a discriminatory way, [but] by Mexican
people. Because they didnt understand them, or they didnt
know them. They just felt that they were either Mexicans that had traveled
to the United States, and didnt want to have anything to do with
Mexico. They just wanted to assimilate into the Anglo society. Or people
that had always been up here, but had no understanding of Mexico. And
so, unfortunately, this would happen. But with this new coming down, this
wave of people that started coming down to Mexico, a new idea of the Chicano
Movement began. And this was very important for us Mascarones, has become
something that we work on, constantly.
Right now we have created an institution called the Nahuatl University,
which has special classes directly related with the Chicanos. And this
is a place where they could set up a base from where they can visit different
sites and have different experiences in Mexico. Always protected. I think
that, very modestly, we can say that we have helped a lot to change the
image of the pocho into a Chicano. Because we also helped danzantes (dancers)
and Maestro, like Maestro Andres de Segura, to come here and also he began
a whole organization of danzantes, and so what has happened is that now
the Chicano Movement has turned one part of it. Not only the political
betterment of the people or economic, but also the spiritual is what is
now linking us very much, and, again, making our people come together
as we are.
The concept of Aztlán, just by the fact that Aztlán
is a Nahuatl word, immediately hits you right inside and it moves all
of your history, as Mexicanos, as Chicanos, as people from this continent,
Anahuac. The Nahuatl words make you react in a certain way. You might
not understand Nahuatl, but it unifies. It is a form of doing away with
political boundaries and, all of a sudden, you react. What happens is
that the language is a manifestation of a culture. Its ancient,
its old, its as old as we can trace it back, to Atlantis or
whatever you [want to] start, or the universe. Where did the Earth come
from? The solar system?
So at this moment, what happens it that theres many things that
are not understood but are felt. And thats what happened in the
spirit, and the spirit world, is that we can connect as brothers and sisters,
and we have one mother, one father. Were standing on her. Were
being given life by the cosmic forces. And so all of this makes us come
to together. It unifies us. The rituals, the danzas, the studying Nahuatl,
understanding the Tonalmachiota, what is called the stone of the suns
or the Aztec calendar. Its hot within our heart. We all feel that
they are symbols of our people of this great family that we have. And
so these are the ways that I think that the more that we come together--we
share our experiences. My mouth was washed out with soap. [This] happens
every day in Mexico with indigenous people. Its a parallel situation.
Its very similar. So, immediately, they connect. Its so easy
to communicate now the with the Internet and all these different ways,
that very soon in a few more years, were [going to] have a very
strong connection between the indigenous movement in Mexico, and the Chicano
struggle. And everybody is going to be touched.
Q: In our documentary, we are looking at Aztlán as a geographic
location. In what ways is Aztlán not just a geographic thing, but
much more of a spiritual thing?
A: The concept of Aztlán is real; its real. Its these
words like Aztlán, our home, [that] refer to a place
within our hearts because its within our own self. Because its
in the cosmos, and its on Earth. Its like were a reflection--the
macro-cosmos, and the micro-cosmos. And so we really cant define
[Aztlán] in just a specific place. Its more in a historical,
more biological, part of us. Thats why its very important
to not give it a specific geographical pinpointing, because it could refer
to a broader land than just one place. And its important for us
to feel that we are connected by Aztlán. Because we are. We are
connected. It is the home that were searching [for], Aztlán.
I think that its very important that we do this documentary at this
moment, because its what were searching for. The Chicano Movement
from the seventies started this search, and now these new generations
have to receive this information, this fruit of these thirty years that
have passed. So that well have a clear idea of where we come from
and where were going.
Q: Who taught you at The Nahuatl University, and who are the students
A: The Nahuatl University was founded in 1990. We began with courses that
had to do with philosophy and interpretation of codices, nutrition, medicine,
and with this idea of creating an ancient style of calmecac, the ancient
school of higher learning. We named it the Nahuatl University so that
it could [be] understood that it had to [do], first, with the philosophy
of the Nahuatl people, the ancient people, not limiting it, of course,
to just Nahuatl. Theres Maya and other places. Territories that
are studied, too.
But this university was founded by the Mascarones Theater Group and directed
by Mariano Leva, and it was this vision he had from from the beginning
of his own school career that was in philosophy. We decided to base it
in Cuernavaca, in uptown Calocotepec, where we created a department, just
one department that has different branches to it. So we have from the
arts to the philosophy to the medicine to arts, dances, and all of this.
This is what we work with.
The teachers are people that have studied more academically than . . .
the Nahuatl-speaking professors who come and give the Nahuatl courses,
and others that are within the community, and we take our students out
into the community. Especially when they have to [study] crops or corn,
we go out into the fields. And there's also special courses like I said
that have to do with introducing the Chicanos [to] the Nahuatl culture.
Q: Who are the indigenous Nahautl speakers historically, geographically,
A: Well, actually, [we dont know about] the origin of the Nahuatl
language. But today theres a very large community of people that
speak the Nahuatl language. Right in Ococopec theres still people
who speak it. But in the state of Morelos, theres two or three towns
or cities that are almost one hundred percent Nahuatl-speaking.
Q: Do you know what Uto-Azteca refers to?
A: Well, Uto-Azteca talks about the linguistic origin of all of this territory
that is precisely the Southwest and into Mexico. And the people trace
back certain languages to this origin.
Q: Is, is culture embedded in the language, and is that why the language
A: Yes, of course. Many times when even the Nahuatl language is lost within
the community, still we have all the forms. The calenders, the rituals,
the ceremonies, that still take place to this day. These dates were covered
up by the Catholic church when they came. They [replaced them with] festivities
of saints. But the ritual, the actual ceremonies, are still very pre-invasion.