Traditional Danza Mexicana in Tucson, Arizona - not Aztec but Chicano -
The elder prays for all the people who are crossing the desert today, that they might not die from the heat and their thirst.
No more deaths on the desert, the elder prays.
Then the drums begin and the dancers march into the room, single file.
The only music is drums, but what incredible drums they are, how loud and fast, you feel like dancing but your feet do not know the steps.
The elder tells the story of when the Anglos first came here. They asked their guides, Who are these people who live over the mountains there?
And their guides answered, They are Aztec which means people who wear feathers. Aztec.
But Aztec is not who we are, said the elder. We are Chicano, which means people of the land.
The Anglo came and thought they discovered a new land. But we were already here. We discovered them when they came off their strange boats.
We welcomed them. They were hungry, so we fed them. They were thirsty, so we gave them something to drink. They were tired so we offered them shelter.
What did they give us in return? Our history is not so good.
At the end of a year, the Anglos celebrated their survival. But we already knew how to survive on this land.
Today both Anglo and Chicano share a concern. We worry together about poisons in our desert land, poisons in our air and our water.
We ask together that these poisonings may end.
No more deaths on the desert, and may all people live in peace.