This Xicana Indigenous Collective is the Past, Present & Future

At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from.

Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before.”  – Warsan Shire

In the search for a better future for ourselves and our families, there are physical-digital places and people we can turn to already. I want to introduce you to a group of people I truly admire and love.  

Xicana Tiahui is the name of a collective multimedia platform by three Xicana Indigenous artists, researchers and friends-  Killa Tekuani (Maritza J. Geronimo), Urapiti Auani (Kristian Vasquez) and Aguachiles (Joel Calixto) who are current visitors of Tongva Territory or what is currently los angeles. In their words,

Xicana Tiahui is more than fighting for representation in violent nation-states or a simple debate about identity. Instead, Xicana Tiahui is about a deep conversation with oneself to create a world where many worlds fit. One free from borders” (About Website)

I spoke with Maritza Geronimo and Kristian Vasquez, two of the three-team podcasters and organizers of Xicana Tiahui in order to learn more about the project.

Maritza is of Nahua and Quechua descent and grew up in what is currently anaheim–a place we both agree to not be the happiest place on earth. Yet, Maritza has a contagious joy that lets you know its ok to be yourself. She wears glasses she often moves up slowly and that I believe see into the past and future. She writes with both words and her actions about plants, medicine and healing.

Kristian is of P’urhépecha descent from the lands of Michoacán, México–as well as from unknown bloodlines from Durango and Zacatecas, México. He grew up in what is currently south gate. He has a sharp grin and you know that his words are carefully chosen every time he speaks because he takes his time with answering my questions. You can find him wearing a Municipal Waste hat sometimes or in braids letting you know there is power and honor wherever he goes.

Xicana Tiahui currently has three episodes on their podcast and more than 13 articles to learn from all for the purpose of sharing resources ranging from why we shouldn’t use the word “Latinx” (cough Chispa!) to an episode on needing to rethink the conversation about illegality and the separation of families given that indigenous people have always journeyed through these lands.

Kristian and Maritza are also zinesters who curate pieces of accessible literature that dates back to the LA punk scene and even before western education took over publishing. Maritza notes zines as:

‘[A] tool for underrepresented communities to share their stories and knowledge. They are vital for especially people of color to create zines since our voices are often left out of “academic” publications.’

The zines they’ve created range from collections of poetry to anthologies on food as medicine and justice.

“I think what is significant about zines is that sometimes they’re printed to never be printed again,” Kristian lights up as he tells me this. I see their zines as a letter to those close to us.

They will both be at the OC Zine Fest this upcoming Saturday August 25th at the Anaheim Central Public Library selling their zines just for you.

I’ll leave you with these final thoughts from Maritza:

Growing up in Anaheim my teachers did not look like me and the curriculum did not reflect my communities hxstory. I think zines offer alternative stories that Brown, Indigenous, Black and other youth of color should be exposed to. I hope the zines we will be vending will provide indigenous children tools to start reconnecting with their culture and ways of being/knowing. We write from the heart and I hope that resonates with youth and families.”

Authors Note: I have lower-cased certain words, mostly historically oppressive proper nouns, as a political acknowledgement of power in language. This reverses what is superior and inferior, disrupting those historic dynamics.

About the Author

francisco aviles pino jr. is an undocumented queer poet, journalist,cultural organizer and scholar from the city of anaheim. They currently work as a researcher for the Million Dollar Hoods project at ucla & co-edit Chispa.