We Are Here!

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.     

Ometeotl,

Miahuatl Yoloquetzalli Oceloxochitl Kuauhtzin 

The Little Things in Life

It was wonderful to be back at Wishtoyo once again. Before the arrival of Europeans, my People (the Mexica) traded and connected with the Chumash People. Each time I step onto Wishtoyo I feel as if once again the threads connecting our Peoples are being mended. The land is so beautiful, and it’s an amazing feeling to know at least this part of the land, the village, is being taken care by its People. As the land does not belong to the People rather the People belong to the land. 

I enjoyed seeing all the students from the program show a different side to themselves that was free, open, and curious. Being at Wishtoyo does something special to you, especially when you are indigenous. For me I feel more connected to the ancestors and nature. I feel as if time has stopped, and I can focus on the small things in life like laughing, loving, and learning. It was incredible to see and hear that each student enjoyed what little time we spent at Wishtoyo. Despite only being at Wishtoyo for about a day and a half, as a group we were able to share songs, dances, and stories under the night sky and by the fire. I was humbled to be able to share a dance from my People’s culture with everyone there. However, I have to admit that one of my favorite things about Wishtoyo are the three German Shepherds which truly help make Wishtoyo feel like a home away from home. Mati, Luhui, and everyone else at Wishtoyo make all who visit feel as if they are apart of a greater family. What a magnificent time at Wishtoyo, I can’t wait for next time.   

UCLA – University of Chilling in Los Angeles

UCLA is an amazing school and I have truly enjoyed my time there thus far. During my first year as a student of UCLA (Univeristy of California, Los Angeles), I was exposed to and participated in a number of activities apart from classes.

 As a student you do not have to leave campus to have a nice break from classes. For starters, UCLA is the leading arts and cultural center in the western United States, hosting more than 1,000 visual and performing arts events each year and attracting more than 500,000 patrons. For example, I attended a workshop on Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs and my mother tongue). Further, the campus is so beautiful and filled with wonderful eateries, cool libraries, and amazing places to chill. One of my favorite places to eat is il Tramezzino which has the nicest staff and the best soups and panini. Near this cafe is one of my favorite locations on campus called the sculpture garden (it’s has magnificent pieces of art, shade, and free wifi!).

 (Sculpture garden @ UCLA)

Before attending UCLA I had not attended many sports games, but as a UCLA student I have access to free and/or very reduced priced tickets to all home games. Impressively, UCLA has won 112 NCAA team championships, more than any other NCAA division 1 university. Each game I attended was so much fun. I really felt connected with my fellow Bruins (aka UCLA students).

 

 One of the greatest things about UCLA is how important public services is for the university and the students. Through the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (a Chicano student organization), I helped organize the annual Raza Youth Confrence which hosts informational workshops and activities about culture, politics, higher education, health, and financial aid for minority students. I met so many amazing fellow brown Bruins and high school students from various parts of the U.S.


Another of my favorite things about UCLA is its location. The community closest to it is Westwood which has various amazingly delicious eateries (my favorite are Diddy Riese and Yamato sushi). Also, there are always movie premieres at the Movie Theatre.

  Furthermore, UCLA is located in one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., Los Angeles! Students can easily go to the beach, Downtown, Pasadena, Hollywood, East Los Angeles, and Echo Park. As students we get a discount off the already cheap costing buses.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles so I had the luxury to spend my free time at home with family and friends. I often volunteer at the charter school my parents founded called Semmilas Community Schools (Xinaxcalmecac and Anahuacalmecac). I love giving back to my community and working with underprivileged youth, most of who are indigenous and of Latin American descent. I enjoy being in a place where youth feel empowered about who they are and where they learn about who they and there People are (like at Semillas Community Schools).  http://www.dignidad.org

  
I love giving back to others. Being a part of the Native Summer Pipeline to College as a mentor has been so wonderful thus far. I can’t wait to see the amazing things these students will do.

– Miahuatl Kuauhtzin