My ancestors are an imperative aspect of my indigenous culture. My ancestors are important to me as they are a part of who I am. If it were not for many of my ancestors I would not be the successful person I am today. One such ancestor is Cuauahtemoc who was tortured and killed because he took his position as tlatoani (speaker/leader of the People) seriously and didn’t give the Spaniards what they wanted. Having this knowledge about my ancestors, that they fought for our People’s lives, helps motivate me to live a meaningful life so our People may continue to flourish and grow. I will not let their deaths be in vain.
Another important aspect of my culture is our ceremonies which help unite my People. Participating in ceremony prepares you to lead a successful and meaningful life because you are taught respect, responsibility, and love for yourself and your people. One of my favorite ceremonies is that of the day of the dead which lasts multiple days and is a celebration of both life and death (both of which are equally important in my culture). We remember those who have passed through altars, dances, and songs while celebrating those of us who still live. Ceremonies serve a greater purpose in my indigenous culture as they not only unite us but allow us as a People, who have struggled, to be inspired and feel joy in who we are despite what has happened to our People. Participating in ceremony in the 21st century is a powerful method of decolonization.
Language (written/spoken and pictorgraphic) is also an important aspect of my culture as it not only allows us to speak to those who only speak our mother tongue but allows us to understand important documents and pieces left by our ancestors. Language serves as a web which connects us to our past, present, and future. Being able to speak, read, and write in my mother tongue, I believe is a factor that helped get me into UCLA. I believe it can do the same for others as multilingualism is beautiful and admired. It helps people lead a more successful, meaningful, and productive life. As an indigenous person being able to speak my mother tongue gives my pride. I am able to connect with my ancestors, culture, and People on a different level.
Cultural knowledge and participation in ceremony helped prepare me for college as it help strengthen me mentally and spiritually. Being strong mentally and spiritually are key in persevering in life as it is filled with hurdles and barriers. Also, my cultural knowledge and participation in ceremony provided me with a higher level of consciousness which many where shocked by at the univeristy. Most importantly, I believe because of my cultural knowledge and participation in ceremony I am more motivated to come back home and give back to my People. I know what needs to be done and I will do all in my ability to contribute to the growth and strengthening of my People. All indigenous youth must attain cultural knowledge and participate in ceremony as it will help uplift them and will do nothing but good in furthering them and their People.
Miahuatl Yoloquetzalli Oceloxochitl Kuauhtzin