Friday, March 14, 2008

Aztlán: Who's An Immigrant?

American Nativity
Chicago, Dec., 2006
by Nephtalí de León

Elvira Arellano
sits at the church
she’s waiting to be picked
like a special envoy
her son is considered
some kind of toy
not a real human boy

Saúl is 7
gone beyond 7-11
he’s spoken before
Congress and more
don’t take my mom in chains
don’t you break the door
she’s committed no crime
she’s no alien from space
she’s part of the human race
she’s my mom
she looks like the color of the earth

where did you come from?

Copyright by Nephtalí de León, 2006

Note: Nephtalí sent me this beautiful art, and several poems and essays when I asked him if he wanted to talk about immigration on earthfamilyalpha. What I pulled from one of the essays is an argument I encountered first when I moved to Texas in the early 70s. Essentially it goes: This place is an ancient land called Aztlán, home to indigenous peoples who were colonized and occupied by what I learned in my history books was America's great move west, Manifest Destiny. All these many centuries later, the indigenous people are still here, see America as an invasion and don't have much use for the economic, social and racial second class citizenship afforded them by the ruling culture here. Nephtalí suggests that we need a peace treaty to fairly settle these historic injustices, recognize the sovereignty of the indigenous people and afford them equal rights in their native land. You won't hear that on the Lou Dobbs News Hour.

excerpts from: A Tribunal to Liberate Our Hijacked Sovereignty

© by Nephtalí De León, 2008

We may be the only people in the world who know we are a unique and homogenous community living within the boundaries of our own nation-state who do not demand that the foreign language, foreign culture regime occupying our homeland come to an end. It is time that we litigate, that we have a tribunal to liberate our hijacked Sovereignty. It is time that we unmask the evil that labels us and treats us as illegal criminal aliens – precisely the very terminology that correctly describes them, the Euroilegal people that invaded, occupied and colonized our homeland. This proposal is about the de-colonization of Aztlán.

What has historically already taken place are cycles of protests, confrontations and disastrous results for us throughout the history of our relations with the occupying regime; the government of the United States and the people of Europe who invaded and occupied the Americas. I shall coin them here as “Euroilegals.”

There are historical reasons why La Raza, the motley community of trilingual, Spanish/English/Náhuatl - speaking peoples that live in every state of the union and that have become the second largest population in the United States, have endured continued acts of aggression against them, without clamoring for total de-occupation of their homeland. The battered confusion of existence and survival has many members of this group being called and often calling themselves by many names: Chicanos, Latinos, Hispanics, Mexican-Americans, Mejicanos, Tejanos, Manitos, NewYoricans, Pochos, Mestizos, Californianos, Amerindians, and a multitude plus of native names from whatever country they have come from south of the Rio Grande River. The greatest majority of them are of Mechica background, that is, natives of North America who still refer to their perennial homeland as Aztlán. They are not immigrants, but nomadic migrants who have always lived in North America. The immigrants are the Euroilegals, illegal aliens who forced themselves into our homeland with neither passports nor permission to enter a land that had legitimate owners of millennial sovereignty....

Whereas some native nations especially in the northeast were pretty well settled in their respective homelands, the ancestors of La Raza were the nomadic Gypsies of the native Amerindians. Prior to the arrival of the Euroilegals, our ancestors had been migrating across the great span of North America as necessity or adventurous whims came upon them. A highly mobile people, they were well adapted to continuous movement of long and short term migrations, with several generations sometimes stopping and dwelling in set locations before moving on. Through a combination of skills such as hunting and farming, they could survive in almost any terrain and were therefore able to continue their habitual inclination to migrate, with the seasons and the creatures of nature itself.


Many of the tribes of Aztlán, as our ancient homeland is known, migrated south but still many others of the same stock and linguistic background remained in the northern part of their ancestral roaming grounds which encompassed vast territories in what is now the United States and Mexico.


If one were to begin to list the number of crimes committed in this history of horror and debauchery, that America refers to as “birth of a nation,” the list would be quite numerous. The U.S. likes to claim, almost with pride, that New York was bought for $24.00 (twenty four dollars), as opposed to its having been either invaded or occupied! The occupation and theft was so vigorous, brazen, and shameless that as late as 1836, Sam Houston, who would later proclaim himself President of Texas, was offering Texas land at 4 cents an acre! The history of America and its founding fathers is one of a gallery of rogues who became rich by selling what they had stolen, American land, to whoever would pay for it! This begins with the venerable George Washington, followed by Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson (the Indian hater) who sent his friend Sam Houston to Texas! They were all Presidents of their respective thefts, who also added to their private treasury by having their slaves work their stolen properties for them! None of these persons acted alone. In fact, so representative was the hostile decadence of Andrew Jackson that America proudly points to one such usurper of humanity’s rights – the only time it declares a nominal period as America’s proudest moment – as the “Jacksonian Era!” It goes without saying that he became America’s most popular president partly because of his Indian Wars.

For all the native populations this turned out to be their individual Golgotha, the total destruction of their world as they knew it. The decapitation was complete, especially in what became the United States. No infrastructure was left standing. No remains or history of centuries, indeed, millennia of existence, has survived that can be properly called a legacy. It is no joke to say that a family tree exists only for the European communities. Have you ever heard of native people creating a family tree? It stops real suddenly. The arrival of the foreign and illegal aliens, all without permits or passports, insured that there would be no family tree for the ancient natives of Aztlán and all of the Americas. Alas! Our family tree is as torn and partitioned as our very hearts are! Not a single one of us is a Johnson, Hernández, Washington or González. Our names were as fluid and melodic as the warbling of the river, the water song of a bird or the blossoming of Spring. We were the Descending Sun in the image of an Eagle (Cuahutemoc), Fasting Coyote (Nezahualcoyotl), or Xochitl (Flower), or Citlalin (Little Star). But our family tree quickly stops with the forced baptismal of European names. Our native names are gone forever, unless we bring them back.


The social relationship between the invaders and the native Raza population has been very unequal. On the one hand the native population is the all around provider of cheap labor, hard labor, military service, the only migrant field workers, and the most loyal law abiding “citizens.” In turn the Invading regime abuses this population and keeps them in the lowest level of comfort, security and income. But what’s even worse, there is direct institutional persecution, profiling, stigmatizing and stereotyping of our entire Raza population even when some of these members over-assimilate. They too are victims of the same institutionalized policy. The persecution against our persons, our culture and our security has been relentless through out the centuries. Now that our numbers have actually increased against all odds, it has even been written into “law,” actual legislation that we are to be hunted down, apprehended and deported out of the country. Families are broken up, mothers, children are incarcerated, and parents deported regardless of little ones left behind who need the care and providence of their parents! None of the Eurolilegal “citizens,” are made to suffer this abomination.


In the case of our tax dollars harming us directly they do so to a great extreme. Besides the fact that our tax dollars are used to pay those who raid us, those who build the border fence as well as the cost of billion dollar high tech spying equipment, land rovers, helicopters, … there are other ways to spend our generated income. Consider for example the School of the Americas in the state of Georgia. This “military,” training center teaches horror such as torture and other unfriendly methods to retain power. It is this inhuman school of terror that has created many despot dictators that brought carnage, torture and terror to Central and South America.


It has been many years, decades, even centuries that our community has protested, rebelled, and fought back. Of late even massive marches, to the tune of millions of people, have filled the streets in many cities and sometimes even simultaneously. We have protested the injustice. We have never protested the non-compliance with International law. That is, we have never mounted a defense based on the law. By this I mean that we have never litigated against the illegality of one nation, not only invading another, but also establishing an illegally based jurisdiction (Government) over an autonomous and sovereign people, not their own in language, culture, race or background. Colonization is a thing of the past except in North America. All colonies eventually liberate themselves from foreign shackles, and reclaim their sovereignty. Even the pilgrims who were not being colonized, and not occupied by another country, rebelled against their bloodline parent country to seek their own autonomy. Why then should it surprise anyone, and not be understood, sympathized with and judged correctly that Native Raza should litigate for the sovereignty of its own nationhood to see its homeland free and unoccupied?


All wars make carnage the end result. All horror, whether brought about by a shirtless person from the darkness of an alley, or the signature of a pen in a mighty capitol building, is equally painful to humanity. All people want the best for themselves and their families. And all people, wherever they exist, hate whoever maliciously detains or attacks this universal longing.

In our case, La Raza has experienced enough violence. Violence is our history. And we are mature enough to realize that not all Euroilegals see eye to eye with its own Empire that punishes its most supportive hostage-citizens at home and makes wars that suffocate the world and brings the chikens home to roost. Nobody has a monopoly on terrorism or kindness. President Jack Kennedy said, “Those that make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” We seek a delicate balance as some in our community have significant bonds as well as sacred ties between the races and mutual interests involving the pursuit of happiness of both the Euroilegals and the American natives.

It is for this reason and those actions stated above that it is the most profound and sincere wish of the native community of Raza to begin the task of a serious multi-national dialogue of reconstruction of long destroyed native infrastructures while litigating a bilateral peace that can unshackle a hostage sovereignty and make American streets safe for all people . . .

Poetry, Essay and Art © Nephtalí De León, 2008.

Biographical Note: One of the most prolific Chicano writers, Nephtalí De León is principally known as a poet, although his literary production includes dramatic works, children's stories, and essays. De León also is highly regarded as a painter and illustrator; nearly all of his books contain his illustrations.

De León writes mainly to express the dreams, desires, and aspirations of the Chicano people. His motivation in writing is to give an honest and truthful representation of the plight of the Chicano, which he sees as the result of a historical process. His inspiration, as he described it in an unpublished interview granted in 1985, comes from the realization that Chicanos have been held in a "psychological and spiritual bondage," that they are "cultural and intellectual hostages" in American society.

Born 9 May 1945, in Laredo, Texas, De León is the son of migrant workers. His father, Francisco De León Cordero, a Mexican citizen, and his mother, María Guadalupe De León-González, a United States citizen, both had little formal education, but De León credits them with having exposed him, his two brothers, and his sister to literature at an early age.

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