The “Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana” is a historical narrative of Chicano Park and its importance to the development of Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana in Aztlan. This pillar project is a creation of Danza Mex’cayotl under the direction of Capitán-General Mario Aguilar. General was a founding member of Toltecas En Aztlan, the first Chicano Danza Azteca group in Aztlan.
This pillar incorporates the seminal history of Danza at Chicano Park from 1975, when General Florencio Yescas first brought la Danza to Chicano Park Day, to 1985, the year Maestro Yescas passed away.
Until the arrival of the Danza Chichimeca-Azteca tradition to Chicano Park, most Chicanos were firmly planted in the “Hispanic/Latin” roots of Mexican Culture. Spanish señoritas, macho bullfighters, Mariachis and mean-looking revolutionaries were the main focus of Chicano imagery in song, poetry and calendars at tortillerías and tienditas. Many Chicanos knew about their indigenous roots through vague family legends, Mexican films, and visits to Mexico’s pyramids.
With Florencio’s group “Esplendor Azteca”, we Chicanos and Mexicanos saw for the first time the LIVING, authentic expression of our indigenous and mestizo roots. From this time forward the paradigm of Chicano identity shifted to our ancient roots on THIS continent. This paradigm shift united recent immigrants to Chicanos who had lived on this side of the border for generations.
For over five centuries, the indigenous, African, and mestizo peoples of this continent have been demeaned and made to feel less than the “white” invaders that crossed the Atlantic from Europe to steal, rape, and plunder the original peoples of this land and their resources. European missionaries came (and are STILL arriving) to demonize our spiritual traditions and to give the colonial genocide a “holy” foundation. This PIGMENTOCRACY is deeply rooted in our history books, literature, films, mass media and most importantly – in our educational systems.
Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana has given our people several tools to create self-reliance, self-determination, and agency:
- We no longer have to look at ourselves as inferior peoples. There are religions and educational movements that call us imperfect, sinners, and less than humans.
- We no longer need to look for our indigenous roots amongst the indigenous nations of the U.S. In the past, young Chicanos who wanted to find their indigenous roots went to the Lakota, Hopi, Shamash, Miwok, and Kumeyaay, elders to learn about our heritage. These elders would question us: “If you are truly indigenous, why do you not go to Mexico and find out YOUR traditions?” The lack of the ability to speak Spanish, or fear of going to another country, made many young Chicanos afraid to venture to the ranchos, barrios, or indigenous communities of Mexico. With the arrival of Florencio Yescas at Chicano park, we had a living connection to the Mexican communities that had what we were desperately searching for: our ancient selves.
Since the 2009 publication of Capitán Aguilar’s dissertation, “The Rituals of Kindness: The Influence of the Danza Azteca Tradition of Central Mexico on Chicano-Mexcoehuani Identity and Sacred Space”, there has been a steady flow of research by young Chicanos exploring the documented roots of La Danza (as opposed to hearsay, and anonymous-based YouTube, and other mass media sources). More and more Chicanas/os have gone to Mexico to meet and learn from traditional dancers from throughout Mesoamerica.
The purpose of this pillar is to highlight the early years of Danza en Aztlan, and the critical role Chicano Park has played in its explosive growth from 1975 to 1985.
Our primary audiences are:
- Chicano/Mexicano Danzantes Chichimecas-Aztecas that were born after 1985 and have an extremely limited knowledge of the first decades of La Danza. They did not live through the struggle Danzantes had to overcome to gain acceptance from other Chicanos/Mexicanos, as well as from American-Indian communities that saw us as “fake Indians” because we came from Mexico.
- Mexican Danzantes who do not understand the Chicano Struggle for self-determination and self-esteem. They arrive in Aztlan looking towards their Catholic Danza traditions and obligations as the main reasons to keep dancing in Aztlan. They do not understand the powerful force of La Danza at Chicano Park that helped liberate us from the pigmentocracy of 500 plus years of discrimination, genocide, and oppression.
- Young Chicano Families. We want the young parents of Chicano children to feel that they too can learn to dance, and thus become powerful, positive role models for their children.
- Young Chicano males. In our society, men are taught that “dancing” is not for them. They are taught that a real man only dances when he is at a party drinking, looking for a hot date, or only if he is drunk. We want our young men to see that La Danza is a place where they can become warriors: Spiritual, cultural, and creative warriors.
The primary goal of our pillar is to highlight the continual link from 3,000 years ago in Mesoamerica to today’s Chicano Park. The “Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana” has made Chicano Park a SACRED SITE, just like the pyramids and churches of Mexico. It has been sanctified by scores of Chicano Danza ceremonies (dancing, weddings, baptisms, and funerals). Because of la “Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana”, Chicano Park is revered as a sacred place for all Raza, from Washington State to New York. Chicano Park has made true the prophecy: WHEREVER THERE ARE CHICANOS, THAT IS AZTLAN.
Our pillar, the “Danza Chichimeca-Conchera-Azteca-Chicana” at Chicano Park seeks to convey the message that we are always living in historical times. WE, and only we, can change the future of our gente for the better. We are a link in an ancient chain that goes back at least 3,000 years. We are the connection that links this ancient past to the next 3,000 years of Chicano history. We cannot afford to be the weakest link that destroys this chain of history for our grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. ¡El es Dios!
Danza Chichimeca-Tolteca Pillar Committee:
- Beatrice Zamora Aguilar
- Dr. Mario E. Aguilar
- Dr. Andres E. Aguilar
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