Saturday, January 5, 2013

Feliz Año Nuevo

Native dancers enter the tent at the October 2012 Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, Texas
Dancers enter the tent at the October 2012 Sacred Springs Powwow. Copyright Collin French.
One of my New Years resolutions is to better cultivate my social media personae through this blog, Twitter, etc. Since it's the fifth of January, and I'm just now posting my Happy New Year post, I'm not doing so well already. Nevertheless, I wanted to ring in 2013 with something of an homage, for me, to the Winter Solstice 2012.

By now the general excitement over the Mayan calendar and December 21st, 2012 has waned, though I still hear occasional jokes and announcements of Protestant seminars on the idolatry of prophecy. That a group, lumped together in popular terms as "the Mayans," has become the butt of a joke that the white media feel entitled to tell both sickens and saddens me. Apparently, it's OK to tell racist jokes if you believe the race in question is "extinct" (see image below).

It's comments like this that demonstrate how much we all depend on broadening education about Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. I've been blessed to work with the Indigenous Cultures Institute of San Marcos, Texas, the primary mission of which is precisely to educate, for about four years now. Though I volunteer in whatever way I can, my primary role is that of managing editor for the online scholarly journal Nakum. "Nakum" is a Coahuiltecan word that means "I/we speak to you," and the mission of the journal is to provide a space and a forum for Native and Chicana/o Peoples to speak to the world at large about the issues and creative paths that interest our communities.

Here I am at the admissions table for ICI's Sacred Springs Powwow in San Marcos, Tx in October, 2012. Copyright Collin French
This year we had the great fortune to release print copies of our first two issues. And, as of December 21st, 2012, we have published our third--and strongest-- issue. Check out Nakum 2012! This issue in particular is so important for all of us at ICI because it debunks the popular assumption undergirding the excitement and subsequent disappointment surrounding 2012: that Indigenous knowledge is exclusively spiritual rather than scientific or academic.

As El Paso native and author of Nine Seasons: Beyond 2012, Carlos Aceves points out in his introduction to the issue, the end of this Bakhtun reveals the scope of Amerindigenous knowledge and cosmology. The Mayan calendar records the fact that ancient Peoples not only kept astonishingly accurate astrophysical data, but they also recognized the relationships of cosmological phenomena to the mundane physical world they inhabited and continue to inhabit. That it's easier for the Western mind to believe in the possibility of a Mayan spiritual prophecy than in the precise data-collecting, scientific capabilities, and interpretive powers of Indigenous people says more about Western society than it ever will about Native people themselves.

Enter Nakum to provide a space for contemporary Indigenous voices and intellectual and creative work. Check out our 2012 issue and let us know what you think.

Feliz 2013!

I love images of Native people in ceremonial and/or traditional regalia or clothing with the indigenization of some contemporary fashion statement. In this case, I'm loving the Chuck Taylors on this young dancer. Copyright Collin French.

My son, in the Longhorns hoodie, with traditional dancer. Copyright Collin French.

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