Reflections upon Indigenous Peoples Day - An indigenous school community’s right to exist and thrive…
Anahucalmecac was honored to participate in a variety of Indigenous Peoples Day events across the entire week from October 8 with the City of Los Angeles, to Many Winters Gathering of Elders, to the Mayan and Pipil Communities' Celebracion de la Marimba on October 13, 2018.
Anahuacalmecac World School
Semillas Community Schools
students, teachers and founders were central to making this historic change a reality. Let’s not be confused. Celebration is life affirming and narrative shifting, but our work to decolonize the continent must also shift from Hollywood heroes and villains to nation-building and international rights implementation. Education, where it involves our children and youth, must become a holistic instrument of our healing and not continue as a mechanism of domination.
Anahuacalmecac faces non-renewal of its charter due to the LAUSD’s failure to recognize the academic successes yielded by an education centered upon the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, language, culture and community autonomy.
Recently, our students participated in a series of events that celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day across the City of Los Angeles. Today, we celebrate our own events here on our campuses. From the official City of Los Angeles celebration in Yaangna at the steps of City Hall to the Many Winters Elders Gathering on the bluffs of San Pedro, the level of depth of understanding regarding indigenous issues at the local, national and hemispheric levels our students and teachers have been exposed to this week alone transcends generations, spans centuries and contests borders.
As we have been reporting to the community at large, our school in East Los Angeles is facing a challengingly political process for renewal of our school’s charter in the LAUSD. If we were a cookie-cutter charter school or a standardized test-prep program anointed by the city’s fathers there would be no issue.
We are not.
We seek an innovative relationship with knowledge, with schooling and with ourselves. We challenge ourselves as educators and we challenge our parents as community to do better, to be better for our next seven generations.
For over sixteen years we have confronted English-only state laws, anti-Mexican and anti-indigenous white nativism, anti-immigrant animus and hate speech, and the negative impacts of high stakes testing policies designed to force fit our children into an assimilated, deculturalized shadow of themselves. We have resisted as a community and as a school all these years and succeeded in graduating seven generations of students from kinder through the 12th grade, college-ready and community-rooted.
Now, LAUSD claims to be a kinder gentler version of itself, even as it publicly declares we are “demonstrably unlikely to succeed” and fail to “describe the educational program” to their satisfaction. In truth, LAUSD simply seeks to do what government schooling has done to indigenous parents since the Spaniards and English first declared their sovereign right to invade and plunder our continent: submit or face annihilation.
Based upon the legacy of genocide, LAUSD’s policies of domination reflect the best practices of Indian schooling, “kill the Indian, save The Man”. In full violation of our community’s internationally recognized Indigenous rights to autonomous and autochthonous education in our own languages, and culture,
if nothing else changes
, the LAUSD aims to terminate our children's school through clever contract language designed to subjugate the autonomy of our school community to the whims of a minority. The path to renewal is possible, so long as we incorporate required policy without proper consultation.
In a country where the Supreme Court upholds the wholesale disenfranchisement of Indigenous Americans on technical requirements to have a “physical address”, what more can we expect of the LAUSD, in its violation of federal and international rights of Indigenous children?
When federal Indian education schools repeatedly fail to meet the standards of detention centers and Indigenous children’s rights to education in their Native maternal language are refused as a matter of “the child’s best interest” we must face the fact that in Los Angeles, California the Indian Wars are alive and well and instead of smallpox infected blankets, or bounties on Indian scalps or hordes of cavalry soldiers, Los Angeles public schools are increasingly weaponized as vehicles of linguicide, deculturalization and disenfranchisement through the miseducation of Native children.
Often, we hear that a child’s future should not be dictated by the zip code they live in as an aspiration towards access to equal opportunity. In the case of Indigenous children in Los Angeles, a native child’s zip code cements not only a three out of five chance that they will not graduate, but a guarantee to become monolingual English-speaking, even if not academically proficient.
In the absence of options, Anahuacalmecac not only stands as a model, but as a reminder of all who are invisible in Los Angeles, quietly folding bed sheets in Bel Air, carefully mowing lawns in San Marino and tirelessly washing plates in West Hollywood.
To many, our communities only fit the American narrative of the struggling immigrant, just like Italians and Irish and Jewish, and others “who came before us”.
Of course, we are not just Americans, we are the Original Peoples of this continent.
At Anahuacalmecac, we do not want our children to assimilate because it is a violation of their humanity, of their ancestors’ survival and of the legacy they must consider as an impact upon the next seven generations of our nations, tribes, communities and peoples.
Anahuacalmecac stands for the rights of all Indigenous children to be respected for their humanity, not forced to become shadows of themselves.