There is a square in the capital of what is now known as Bolivia. It is called the Plaza Murillo. Just the thought of it fills me with a feeling of immense pride and warmth.
I hear children laughing, and mujeres de pollera talking in Aymara, one of our original languages. The sweet scent of pasankalla is in the air. Young Nican Tlaca Indigenous couples are going for a walk with their guagita, their baby. Elderly men are feeding the pigeons some pan de maiz. Inti, the sun, warms my skin. I see the wiphala on the governmental palace, dancing with the Andean breeze. I see the flag of my ancestors. I see my people being led towards liberation.
There was a time where the wiphala would be nowhere near ANY governmental building and the president was a descendant of the European invaders, a criollo. It was during that time, that my abuelito, my grandad, and his father, went on a day trip to the capital city. His father wanted to show him the square and the governmental palace. But as soon as they arrived, a soldier told them that they were not permitted to be there and they had to go. My abuelito, in his ponchito and chullito, was sent away. Sent away by a brainwashed Nican Tlaca Indigenous brother, restricted from moving around freely on his own ancestral land.
It was on that same square that my great warrior-ancestors, Bartolina Sisa and Tupac Katari, were killed by the European invaders. Tupac Katari was brutally tortured and executed; his body was chopped into four pieces. Bartolina Sisa was savagely tortured, beaten and repeatedly raped before being beheaded. The heads and limbs of my courageous warrior-ancestors were exhibited in various regions as a warning to my people to not dare do the same thing they did.
And what did they do exactly? The magnificent Bartolina Sisa and Tupac Katari, with an army of my ancestors, laid siege to the city of La Paz for 184 days. 10,000 Europeans starved to death; the ones who survived were forced to live off the meat and flesh of their dead children.
In another part of my region, my great warrior-ancestors Micaela Bastidas and Tupac Amaru II also fought against those pale-skinned pillagers. They, along with an army of my people, spread like a raging fire throughout the land, burning down the homes, businesses and plantations of the Europeans, killing anyone who got in their way.
Their fearless rebellion led them to being viciously murdered by the Europeans. Tupac Amaru’s tongue was ripped out of his mouth, his body was chopped into four pieces and he was beheaded. However, before they put him through this cruel death, they forced him to watch the torture and execution of his warrior-partner, Micaela Bastidas.
And what were my ancestors fighting for? They were fighting for our people, our land, our lives. They fought for the lives they once knew; lives filled with beauty, knowledge, morality and dignity.
They fought for our Nican Tlaca societies where women and men balanced the universe together. Where we complemented one another creating a beautiful duality. A beautiful duality that has been stolen from us, bit by bit, since 1492.
I can see my female ancestors when I look at the artefacts of Supe Caral, I see the participation of my sisters in a city that existed in 5500 BCE; one of the oldest cities in human history. You see, my people knew of the importance of both man and woman; this is nothing new for us.
My people in Tawantinsuyu, under the political state of the Inca, created a society that not only eliminated poverty through the collective hard work of both women and men. We also created two political hierarchies that existed side by side; one made up of my Nican Tlaca sisters and one made up of my Nican Tlaca brothers.
To a colonized eye, it may seem like a division, but in actual fact the women and men of Tawantinsuyu were two halves of a whole. There was the Temple of the Moon, panelled entirely in silver, with a Nican Tlaca female face on it. There was the Temple of the Sun, panelled entirely in gold, with a Nican Tlaca male face on it. Such creativity in our expressions of duality.
My Inca sisters not only fuelled political life but they also preserved our cosmology, archiving it through the weaving of textiles. They were priestesses who would carry out rituals, teaching the younger women our cosmology; passing down the knowledge generation through generation.
I can see my Mayan ancestors on murals and sculptures; depictions of matrilineal societies, where both men and women were leaders. My Huastec sisters stare back at me whenever I go to the Mexico section in the British Museum of Stolen Goods.
My Olmec abuelas defiantly stand beside my Olmec abuelos in sculpture form; a sign that both my female and male ancestors held positions of prestige. This is something that confused European men when they invaded my land. They had just come from a place where women were accused of being witches and burned at the stake when they tried to enter the fields of medicine or education.
That is why they always belittle the role of Nican Tlaca women in our pre-colonial societies. We are simplified, we are erased from the pages of history.
We are not seen as the great Mexica women who played a vital role in warfare, making the weaponry that would be used by our brothers. We are not seen as the doctors who would treat their battle wounds, who would develop the medicinal knowledge of our people as a whole. We are not seen as the scribes, composers, teachers, merchants, litigants; as the students who attended the mandatory education of the Mexica state.
When one of my ancestral Nican Tlaca sisters would give birth, she would be honoured as a warrior. The female obstetrician would recite poetry that spoke of our complex cosmology to the newborn child. The mother and baby would be taken around the city or the village. All the people would come out and show respect to these two warriors. What a way to live, where Creation was so highly respected and us, the ones who continue Creation through childbirth, would be revered.
Look at how we live now, as a COLONISED people who have to watch the Europeans completely disrespect our Creation, our continent, with their greed. We, the Nican Tlaca Indigenous people of Cemanahuac, are currently a COLONISED people. Myself and my sisters do not belong to a generic woman experience, nor do we need a Eurocentric ideology to help us fight colonialism. Feminism cannot be used as a tool for my people’s liberation, it was made by and for the white woman.
It was first created because the European woman wanted to play a bigger role in the colonial power structure. They wanted the power, the privilege, the profit; you name it, they wanted it. They embraced white supremacy wholeheartedly, they perpetuated our genocide as well as the holocaust of our African sisters and brothers.
The white women in the United Settler States were appalled at the prospect of black men being able to vote before them, so they created their suffragette movement. Feminism was a movement based around the demand that US society acknowledged their whiteness, their superiority. Their equality with the white man was the only thing that mattered to them.
Amelia S. Quinton, a white feminist, once said “Let us give to the destitute tribe Christian homes and missions, for without these no race can rise.” European women loved white supremacy, it fuelled their arrogance, to the point where they began to see themselves as the “mothers of the human race”; pretty ironic considering they were only crawling out of the caves while we were developing beautiful civilizations.
A Nican Tlaca sister, Pam Colorado, summarises feminism perfectly; “It seems to me the feminist agenda is basically one of rearranging social relations within the society which is occupying our land and utilising our resources for its own benefit. Nothing I’ve encountered in feminist theory addresses the fact of our colonisation, or the wrongness of white women’s stake in it… I can only conclude that, like Marxism, which arrives at the same outcome through class rather than gender theory, feminism is essentially a Euro-supremacist ideology and is therefore quite imperialist in its implications.”
We do not need a Eurocentric ideology to help us practice what we have ALWAYS practiced as a people. The only reason we stopped respecting one another, irregardless of gender, is because the Europeans brainwashed our ancestors into acting like them. That is why our Nican Tlaca brothers shout at us, hit us and abuse us. It is not because it is part of our culture; something I have heard my sisters say numerous times. It is part of our ongoing oppression under colonialism.
It is part of living as a colonised Nican Tlaca man, who has no real power on his own land, or anywhere else on this planet. My brothers have to put up with white supremacist abuse on a daily basis, whether it be through institutions or individuals. They have to feel hungry despite coming from a continent that could feed him and all our people easily. Here, we have to struggle to make ends meet, holding down two or three cleaning jobs, sometimes more. Back home, we also have to struggle, because we are forced to pay rent, to the white colonial government, to live on OUR land. We have to pay bills to white colonial companies so that we can drink OUR water.
All of this creates helplessness and frustration in my Nican Tlaca brothers and after a day of working and worrying and struggling, they take their anger out on us. I am not saying it is right, I am not saying we should put up with it. I am just putting it in context. We should always put it in context. Our men are not innately abusive and violent. All we have to do is look back at our original societies in order to understand this. We have to look at the bigger picture and see that domestic violence is a symptom, not a cause; it is not the root problem.
At the same time, we must not ignore the sexism that my Nican Tlaca brothers go through. Masculinity in a brown body seems to scream DANGER in this white supremacist society. Their masculinity makes white women clutch onto their handbags and the arms of their partners a little tighter. At the same time, their sexuality is fetishised, they are seen as the forbidden fruit in the eyes of the white woman, an exotic accessory.
All of this is further perpetuated by the colonial label of Latino, a label that takes our true Nican Tlaca Indigenous identity away. Instead of being seen as descendants of genius and greatness, my brothers are seen as gangsters, drug dealers; not sought after for their honourable heritage, but sought after because they are “sexy Latin boys”.
My sisters are reduced to Spanish-speaking, salsa-dancing sexual objects who wear body-shapers and bum-lifters in order to conform our Nican Tlaca Indigenous bodies to this stereotyping fetish.
Both my brothers AND my sisters have fallen for this colonial trap. My brothers find themselves going after those of us who tick the boxes of this Latina stereotype. My sisters seem to be only be attracted to the “bad boys” of our community, instead of the brothers who are less contaminated by this colonial cliche.
It is a vicious circle, but it is not a circle that has been carved out by us. It has been carved out by our colonisers, our oppressors; the Europeans.
The term Latin America was first coined by the European settler, Francisco Bilbao, in 1856. From that came the identity Latin American, an identity that was originally created for the Europeans who had been born on my land, on the blood of my ancestors, on the ruins of our civilizations. The Latin American identity never belonged to us, the original people of Cemanahuac.
The label of Latino is not truly our’s either. It is merely an invention of the Cubans in Miami, the Spanish criollos who had to flee Cuba because the wealth they had stolen from our Nican Tlaca people and our African sisters and brothers, was being taken away from them. They took control of the media and used the term Latino – and Hispanic too – to target my people for profit and power.
Both the European man and the European woman are involved in this disgusting distortion of my people’s true identity as the Indigenous and rightful owners of our continent. Feminism is merely a tool for the white woman to gain more power over us in the colonial structure.
Both the pale man and the pale woman have played a role in the genocide of my Nican Tlaca people. She turned a supposed “blind eye” to her husband’s thievery; whether it was our gold, silver or the virginity of Nican Tlaca children. She watched her home get built by Nican Tlaca and African slaves, whom she had purchased at the slave auctions. She happily lived in that house and on the land that was stolen from us.
And when we weren’t picking enough cotton out on the plantations, that were created on STOLEN LAND, she made us get whipped and beaten until the blood poured out of our backs and the bruises spread over our skin. She ran the Indian boarding schools; she molested and beat the pride, dignity, culture, identity and HUMANITY out of our Nican Tlaca children, our ancestors.
Now there are European women as heads of states, in the colonial nations of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. And just like the Spanish queen Isabella, who funded Columbus’ invasion of my land, they continue to kill my Nican Tlaca sisters and brothers. They steal the Amazon from my people in Brazil, they send the army and police out to shoot my people dead in Argentina and they imprison our Mapuche warriors in Chile. They violently plot against our warrior-leader, Nicolas Maduro, in Venezuela.
These white women are not fighting for my sisters. They are part of the same colonial system that oppresses both Nican Tlaca women and men EQUALLY. In order to fight for my people’s liberation, I must use the tool of decolonisation, of Nican Tlaca nationalism. Feminism – in any of it’s forms – only helps to maintain the illusion that the struggle of a Nican Tlaca woman is against our Nican Tlaca men. It does not go to the root of our oppression. It does not expose the fact that it was European men who indoctrinated my brothers with machismo.
Through decolonisation, my people – irregardless of gender or age or anything – can find complete liberation. We can rid ourselves of the machismo, the homophobia and all the other poisons the Europeans infected us with.
There are movements throughout my land that are fighting against the colonial governments and these movements involve both Nican Tlaca women and men. In Colombia, a republic that is ruled over by Spaniards, there are two Nican Tlaca women running for president; Clara Lopez and Aida Avello. They are not fighting over gender issues. They are fighting for our land and our resources; they are demanding that OUR land and OUR resources are in OUR hands, and not in the greedy hands of the invaders.
In Venezuela, there are fierce Nican Tlaca and African women who together formed a cordon in order to stop Maria Corina Machado – the white opposition leader – from entering parliament after it was revealed that she was planning to violently overthrow our warrior-leader, Nicolas Maduro. The head of the country’s Armed Forces is a Nican Tlaca sister, Carmen Melendez, someone who is ready to militarily defend our people against the claws of the criollos, the European descendants who continue to loot our land.
In Bolivia, our warrior-leader Evo Morales Ayma is staying true to our Nican Tlaca roots and making the changes necessary so that my Nican Tlaca sisters can play key roles in political life. Under his leadership, the proportion of Nican Tlaca women in parliament has doubled, we now hold 47% of Senate seats and Ana Maria Romero, a Nican Tlaca sister has been elected Senate president. Furthermore, my Nican Tlaca sisters make up nearly half of the mayors and council persons in Bolivia’s 327 local governments, and 96% of them are holding public office for the first time.
All this goes to show that with the power back in our own hands, instead of the hands of the European settlers, we will practice the ways of our ancestors and respect one another, irregardless of gender. We will work together, as one Nican Tlaca people, in order to regain our land, our resources and the right to govern ourselves, with no interference from the criollos.
We have not been an independent people for 500 years. Our independence was taken from us when the Europeans invaded our lands and killed 95% of our ancestors through the cowardly use of smallpox. Our holocaust continued during and after the criollo independence movement, a movement created by and for the white settlers on my land; so that they did not have to take orders from the European crowns anymore, having complete free reign to rape and pillage.
These criollos are still raping and pillaging. We are still under attack by the colonisers, the invaders, the true illegals on our continent. Take a look at the elite who are constantly undermining the leadership of our honourable warriors, Evo Morales Ayma and Nicolas Maduro. You will see European faces, red with anger, because our people, in those regions, are slowly but surely putting an end to their reign.
I will fight these parasites as a Nican Tlaca alongside my sisters and my brothers. I will rid my land of all European poisons. I will rip them out by the root. I will not allow my gender to be a barrier between me and my brothers. I will not demonise my brothers, my fathers, my grandfathers. I will uplift my sons, my nephews, my grandsons. I will tell them of our ancestors, how honourable we were, how we worked as a collective, developing societies that would outshine anything they could imagine.
I am a descendant of those Nican Tlaca women, of the warriors, scientists, weavers, poets, farmers, astronomers, philosophers who, alongside Nican Tlaca men, wove Nican Tlaca society together. And together with my Nican Tlaca brothers, we will pick up our weapons of literature, we will fortify the pride of our true identity and fight against our one and only enemy; white supremacy.
Awqa Yayra Colque