Pozole and Indigenous Protest (Mexico DF)

It happens that I had too much tequila on Saturday night.  The next day around noon, I went to Plaza Garibaldi with some new friends for pozole.  They explained to me that it would take care of my hangover, and it was delicious to boot.  Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew made with corn and other ingredients, which once had ritual significance for the Aztec people.  We had red pozole rather than white pozole, which the waiter explained was slightly more spicy.  At one point when my eyes were watering my companions laughingly proclaimed that I was enchilado, a word that in the vernacular has come to mean the state of being hot from spicy food.  I was happily enchilado!

Later that day I was wondering around the Centro Historico and came upon a gathering of people in Plaza Manuel Tolsa that was one part demonstration, one part ceremony.  There was corn and other staple foods beautifully displayed on the ground, incense burning, traditional attire and dancing.  I asked a lady what was going on and she told me that it was the day of resistance for the Mexica people, held every year around August 13, the anniversary of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.  According to Wiki, “the Mexica or Mexicas — called Aztecs in occidental historiography, although this term is not limited to the Mexica — were an indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico, known today as the rulers of the Aztec empire. The Mexica were a Nahua people who founded their two cities Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco on raised islets in Lake Texcoco around AD 1200. After the rise of the Tenochca Mexica they came to dominate the other Mexica city-state Tlatelolco. The Mexica are eponymous of the placename Mexico (Mēxihco).  This refers to the interconnected settlements in the valley which became the site of what is now Mexico City.”

Still later in the day, I was shopping at the artisinal and saw some arrowheads for sale.  Growing up in Tennessee, my brother and I would occasionally find arrowheads and I remember knowing of people who had large collections.  Here I am eating a once sacred meal for hangover food and have long had the option to collect the artifacts of other Native Americans.  All that to say, that I took pause to think about what it means to push people from their land and then allow history to overlook, un-write, or blur  (as in the case above) the details.  At Global Arts Corps, we are in discussions about the possibility to work with the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada.  We have an organizational desire that such work can serve as an entry point for discussing the Native American situation in the US thereafter, one that is far from having a moment of truth.  In a recent conversation I admitted to a colleague that the first time I ever saw the Native American genocide referred to as such was in 2005  (at age 32) in Rwanda.  The Dutch government had erected a monument to their fallen soldiers (the first killed by the Hutu, thought to have been a message to outside forces); the monument was a world map of recent genocides with North America as the largest with an approximated 16 million killed.  Seems absurd that I wouldn’t have gotten that from school books, right?

I disagree with Hobbes that the state of nature is a warring one… I just think we let the telling of history default to that lowest common denominator; be skewed to a version that justifies the victor’s brutality; and/or those with alternate versions threatened to the point of silence.   Through freeDimensional, I once had the honor to work with a Maasai land activist who while attending the UN Indigenous Forum decided to stay out of Kenya longer due to safety concerns just after the 2008 elections.  And, just this morning a received an email petition from Avaaz, titled Stop the Serengeti Sell-off, an effort to help the Maasai in Kenya, where it seems that the same ole thing is still happening.

P.S. Check out the work of the First Peoples Fund!

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