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Aztlán: The Myth, The Reality, and The Metaphor
Transcript of Aztlán: The Myth, The Reality, and The Metaphor
The Myth, The Reality, and The Metaphor What is Aztlán? The concept of Aztlán is not well known by most. It has a mythical background as being the Northern lands from where the ancestors of the Aztecs came, but it also has a strong conceptual and metaphorical meaning for Chicanos today. They use the term to describe their homeland which has been since occupied by white Europeans. It is seen as an actual physical location in this sense, but is this still more metaphorical than geographical? The seven caves of Chicomoztoc, from Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca. Each of the caves represents a different Nahua group. The Name POEM IN LIEU OF PREFACE
it is said
that MOTECHUZOMA ILHUICAMINA
looking for the NortherN
wherefrom the AZTECS CAME
mYthIcal land for those
who dream of roses and
or for those who swallow thorns
in powdered milk
feeling guilty about smelling flowers
about looking for AztláN
by Alurista The Myth The mythological basis for Aztlán
is one that stretches back to long
before white Europeans
ever landed in “The New World”.
The story of Aztlán as told by the
Aztecs, or Mechica as they called
themselves, is a tale of migration
from the north. They left their
northern homeland of Aztlán, in
search of an eagle devouring a
serpent, which is still represented
on the flag of Mexico today. The Mexican Eagle The Nahuatl term Aztlán means
"The land to the north; the land from
whence we, the Aztecs, came." Myth is often used in a culture to reinforce values, give people a sense of identity, and a source of courage and strength. The Reality Aztlán came to be the name used to
describe the “conquered territories”,
the lands ceded by the U.S. after the Mexican-
American War. How far north? The reality of Aztlán is backed up by anthropological record, as well as by current population trends. Stretching, Layering, and Folding The Metaphor El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage, but also of the brutal "Gringo" invasion of our territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlán, from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility and our inevitable destiny.
We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows and by our hearts. Aztlán belongs to those that plant the seeds, water the fields and gather the crops, and not to foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the Bronze Continent.
Brotherhood unites us, and love of our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner “Gabacho” who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our hearts in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our Mestizo nation. We are a Bronze People with a Bronze Culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before our brothers in the Bronze Continent, We are a Nation of free pueblos, we are AZTLÁN.
Denver Conference, March, 1969 After the Mexican-American war ended in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed Mexican nationals who wanted to remain on their land that had been ceded would be granted U.S. Citizenship, and be able to enjoy all of the rights and privileges included. As economic pressure and search for new land arose however, the people were eventually forced off of their land, and treated as second class citizens. Chicanos and Aztlán Mexican Americans tried their best to assimilate into U.S. culture by claiming their Spanish heritage, and downplaying indigenous roots. They would use the term Chicano to separate themselves from the new waves of Mexican Nationals and Mexican Indians, but later Mexican Americans came to adopt the Chicano name as an empowering new identity. With the Great Depression came an even greater nativism movement, in which they were labeled foreigners in their own land. The result of this oppression was the Chicano Movement, in which Mexican-Americans forged a new identity by reaching out to their Indigenous heritage, including the concept of Aztlán. In conclusion, I believe that the concept of Aztlán has been effectively delivered as not only a Mythological place, but also a physical place that has given way to a metaphorical source of strength and pride for Chicanos, and most importantly a homeland to call their own. Though Aztlán may exist now only as a metaphorical concept, it is possible that someday it may be recognized as the rightful homeland of Chicanos. Conclusion