We accomplish our identity work through the curriculum that we co-construct that consists not only of the teaching of Mexica or Aztec knowledge coupled with basic Nahuatl and in the Spanish language. We also do this by teaching Indigenous ways of knowing and being—not the least of which is Danza Mexica (Aztec ceremony). That is, we rescue these ways of knowing and being from our more familiar identities as "Mexicans" or "Mexican Americans" to which, in many aspects, they are integral but are simply not named. In ways that are similar to American Indian/Native American and Indigenous Afro-descent peoples, the importance we generally accord to family and community relations are cases in point such that to date, no curricular or societal regime has been able to fully dismantle or supplant.
We decolonize in many ways, but first by recognizing that words and labels like "Mexican," "Mexican American," "Texas," "United States," "borders," "race," and "racism," are not only impositions on peoples native to this continent, but that these ways of knowing, however imposed, are new and recent against the phenomenal backdrop of tens of thousands of years of history that render the modern part of our history—1492 to the present—the briefest part!
I have read and highly recommend Four Arrows' edited volume titled, Unlearning the Language of Conquest: Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. I think you will enjoy this timely, just-published piece that I have cut and pasted below.
I should conclude by letting folks know about tomorrow's Powwow here in Austin. It's definitely worth attending should you get a chance.
1. Parents, legislators, teachers, and administrators who have been indoctrinated to see
Indigenous knowledges as something of the past with no merit for the present.
2. Supportive non-Indigenous teachers who are uncomfortable with teaching anything
Indigenous for fear of doing it wrong or incompletely.
3. Supportive Indigenous teachers who feel they do not have sufficient authority.
4. Indigenous tribal members who fear that in addition to everything else taken away
from them, now their spiritual wisdom will be stolen, misinterpreted and misused.
5. Indigenous tribal members who have themselves been assimilated; brainwashed or
punished in ways that cause them to reject traditional Indigenous worldview and
6. Teachers fearful of retaliatory repercussions for challenging status-quo dominant
7. We must recognize the faulty scholarship of academics that continue anti-Indianism.
Some point to a politicization around Indigenous issues on campus that can be
hostile toward critical thinking. Others are troubled to see universities hiring
professors and admitting student based on race. And there are concerns that the
embrace of Indigenous knowledge undermines a commitment to science
The mistake often made by university faculties is to ignore the value that
Indigenous methods of education could bring to standardized Western curricula.
Isolating Indigenous knowledges within discrete classes or disciplines, for
instance, occurs to the detriment of all learners, as Indigenous pedagogies and
perspectives are thus marginalized…While (Smith’s principles) are presented as
methodologies that can help Indigenous people move towards self-determination
via research, it is clear that the potential for the overall philosophy is just as
applicable to informing pedagogy within a university classroom ((Louie et al
2017. p. 22).
After reading this book, I wonder: What are the dangers in using Indigenous as a
verb, to “indigenize?” What does it mean to “Indigenize mainstream education?”
In the movement to a verb, it becomes an action upon another, rather than a
change through internal reflection of lived experiences with our communities and
families…What does Indigenizing education mean when it is delivered in
classrooms voice of Indigenous Peoples? How do those “generalizable” tenets of
Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies and paradigms translate when it is
separated from the people and the places from which they originated? How might
non-Native Peoples with few relations with Native Peoples embark upon this
work? (2015 p.156).