Can Mexican-Americans be featured in Indigenous Peoples Day?

Was watching local Los Angeles news and a news story about LA’s upcoming Indigenous Peoples Day (celebrated in opposition to Columbus Day to recognize Native Americans) prominently featured footage (I assume taken of last year’s festivities) of a bunch of Native American groups doing traditional songs and dances but intercut among these was footage of a Mexican mariachi band playing with a giant Mexican flag behind them.

I pointed out the irony to my coworker, that a Mexican flag and Mexican culture would be featured when they just happened to be the people who had taken the Natives land before the United States. He replied that Mexican’s should be featured in Indigenous People’s Day since many of them are mixed blood from Aztecs and other native Mesoamerican cultures, but my reply to that was that that wasn’t really relevant considering we’re talking the Californian area where that wasn’t really as widespread as it was in central Mexico.

I’m just wondering if it was culturally appropriate to be celebrating Mexican culture in a day that’s suppose to be all about Native Americans and their culture instead of their oppressors (since it is fully about countering Columbus)

Since the OP is asking for opinions, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Most Mexicans and people of Mexican descent, including those living in California, are partly of indigenous origin and partly of European. Many identify with both parts of their heritage, as La Raza, a race of mixed origin. This may seem paradoxical to you, but it is common in Latin America.

Plenty of Mexicans have a little to a lot of “indigenous people” in their background. Why not include them?

“Mixed blood” is pretty meaningless today. There are no “pure blood” Native Americans anymore. Sure, there are probably some folks who are almost completely of Native ancestry, but it would be difficult to tell if someone has 5%, 10% or even 25% European ancestry.

You might as well question whether African-Americans should celebrate Juneteenth because American blacks all have significant amounts of European ancestry.

And when they do, would it be a little tone-deaf to celebrate by dressing up as Davy Crockett and waving the 1824 flag?

I have twisted feelings about this myself, because where I am we have a particular flag that was created and used as a symbol of division, that has now been adopted as a symbol of including everybody except political opponents. So when you see the flag it’s got all kind of different meanings depending on who you are and what your background is. The Mexican flag has seen some changes in what it stands for.

A significant portion of the US used to be part of Mexico so I don’t see why not.

I think the point is that Mexico is just as responsible for overrunning the native population of North America as the United States is.

Except that one half of the Mexican’s ancestors overran the other half.

Here in Panama one of the coins features the conquistador Balboa, while another features Urraca, the native chief who led resistance against the Spanish invaders. It’s as if US money featured Sitting Bull* in addition to Andrew Jackson. And it might, if 70% of US citizens had Native American ancestry.

*Sacajawea doesn’t count. She was a collaborator.

Urracá; the stress mark is important because if you pronounce it with the stress in the first “a” it’s a woman’s name meaning “magpie”, very popular among early-Middle-Ages nobility of Hispania.

One could go purist and claim that celebrations of Native American cultures south of the Rio Grande should focus mainly on traditions followed by native nations currently classified as such, with no influence from Europe… does that mean the Oglala aren’t allowed to use horses? A lot of current classified-native traditions in Latin America have Christian influence and other elements brought by the different waves of immigration (remember, nowadays you can find people from about anywhere almost in any country), and anything an outsider may view as “white Latin American” culture has a lot of influence from pre-1492 cultures. Like Colibri said, all culture in Latin America comes from mestizaje and has recognized it so and even considered it a mark of “who we are” for centuries.

Have you been to Oklahoma?

Indigenous People’s Day is about celebrating everyone that was indigenous, not relitigating history. Yes, Mexico overran Native American People’s lands, but so did other Native Americans. The Mexica which dominated the Aztec alliance were a group of nomads who didn’t end up in what is now Mexico City until the 13th century. They expanded their Empire through military conquest up until the 16th century when the Europeans showed up. This was not uncommon. There were certain tribes that held their land for extremely long periods of time, but for the most part there was lots of intertribal warfare and migration. I mean you didn’t think that all of the war bands and warrior cults that are well-known in many Native American cultures just magically appeared when Europeans showed up. They were fighting and conquering one another as humans have done for as long as we have been around. This isn’t uncommon. When we celebrate Italian-American festivals, there aren’t many people getting in fights that Florence conquered Umbria or Sicily split from Naples. We recognize that it wasn’t uncommon for groups under the same umbrella to have had conflicts in the past and mostly we try and ignore it. People from Pennsylvania and Maryland can still celebrate July 4th without Cresap’s War needing to be brought up.

Many times.

They tell me I was born there. Oklahoma, not Arizona.

I don’t find this argument very convincing. It’s like saying the Aztec Empire still exists because the land is still there.

To me, the real determinant is cultural and political. Spain and the Aztec Empire both existed five hundred years ago. But Spain still exists today while the Aztec Empire does not. The Aztec Empire, as a cultural and political entity, was eliminated by Spain. Mexico is a new and different cultural and political entity that happens to be living in the house where the Aztec Empire used to live.

What’s your opinion about the Beatles?

I have no problem with that. My point is that a mariachi band and a Mexican flag on Indigenous People’s Day is about as appropriate as a parade float of the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria. Mexican culture isn’t part of indigenous culture; it’s what happened to indigenous culture.

A feature on, say, the culture of the Yaqui, including those currently living in the United States, would be 100% appropriate in my opinion. So, yes to the OP, in the sense that persons who are Mexican-American who would be appropriate to feature do exist.

A feature on a generic ‘Mexican-American’ stereotype (and as there is no unified Mexican indigenous culture anything that broad could only be a stereotype) is not appropriate, in my opinion.

I know. But I was spelling it in English which doesn’t use stress marks.:wink:

I was using “Aztec” only because the OP used it. But I am referring to all the indigenous peoples of Mexico, and their mixed descendants, who are descended from many different ethnic groups. Mexico is in fact a new and different cultural entity, but it is very much based on indigenous heritage. People may speak Spanish, but many elements of their culture are based on indigenous roots.

You evidently don’t realize that the Mexican flag features at its very center the symbol of an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus and eating a snake. This was the sign that the wandering Aztecs decided was an omen that told them where to found their capital city, Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City. This has been their coat of arms since the foundation of the country. Indigenous heritage is at the very heart of Mexican identity.

Mariachi may not directly be of indigenous origin, but it is based on Mexican folk music of the mestizo population. It represents the Mexican national identity, and that identity is in part indigenous.

St. Patrick’s Day parades and corned beef and cabbage dinners are primarily features of Irish-American culture; they are much less important in Ireland itself. They are “what happened to Irish culture” in the US. Are they thus less legitimate a part of Irish-American identity?

I know this may be hard for those who identify with a single ethic ancestry to understand, but it is entirely possible to recognize a cultural identity that has more than a single strand.