5 Reasons to reject the war on Chicana-Chicano Indigeneity.

Kurly Tlapoyawa
9 min readJan 1, 2020

Indigenous lateral oppression is not decolonization

Sadly, the latest online trend within the “latinx” community is to relentlessly attack Chicanas and Chicanos who identify as Indigenous. Given the fact that being Indigenous is a cornerstone of Chicana-Chicano identity (and is manifested in our culture, language, traditions, and blood), I find such attacks…curious to say the least.

The basic argument goes something like this: Chicanas, Chicanos, and Chicanx folks did not grow up in traditional Indigenous communities, and therefore can only call themselves “Indigenous descendants” and not “Indigenous people.” Apparently, there is only one “authentic” Indigenous lived experience, regardless of how history has played out for the Mesoamerican diaspora. This bizarre bit of wordplay ignores the entirety of Chicana-Chicano history and reeks of identity policing at its worst. Interestingly, this assault on Chicana-Chicano Indigenous identity is identical to right-wing talking points that seek to deny Chicana-Chicanos our Indigenous cultural inheritance.

It is certainly unfortunate that a handful of “latinxers” and Indigenous gatekeepers have taken it upon themselves to police Indigenous identity. In doing so, they are sowing deep divisions among people who should be working together. And quite frankly, I think their argument just isn’t very well thought out.

Here are five reasons why:

1. It completely ignores the fact that the Chicana-Chicano experience is unique to the United States, and that the historical racism and colonialist oppression experienced by Chicana-Chicanos has been directly in response to our being Indigenous.

The Mexican American experience in the United States has been largely characterized by our status as a colonized people. Ever since the United States absorbed a large portion of the Mexican Republic as a result of the U.S.-Mexico war, Mexican Americans have been marginalized and ostracized within U.S. society. More often than not, our Indigenous roots have motivated this racism.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick look at the historical record.

In trying to come up with a solution to the “Mexican Problem” in the years following…

Kurly Tlapoyawa

(Chicano/Nawa/Mazewalli) Archaeologist, filmmaker, and founder of the Chimalli institute of Mesoamerican Arts. Professor of C/S at Colegio Chicano del Pueblo.