Copyright © 2006 Olin Tezcatlipoca

The poem below was written by Olin Tezcatlipoca for the lecture at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater on March 14, 2006.
We have a link for a shorter version of this poem on audio if you click here.



I am a Nican Tlaca,
part of the collective Indigenous people of this continent.

My ancestors understood that
Our Creator gives us life, as a gift;
and that Our Creator gives us death, as a gift.

In between birth and death
my ancestors understood
that we must live our lives
with honor,
with knowledge and courage
—that we must always be learning and teaching,
always as honorable warriors for our people.

My ancestors understood life and death:
scientifically, emotionally, and intellectually.

They understood that we must live our lives
in the pursuit of truth, in the defense of justice.

And in the tradition of my ancestors, I say:
I am a Nican Tlaca,
part of the collective Indigenous people of this continent!

We Nican Tlaca are the only true owners of this continent.
We have been robbed of all our land, all our continent.

Europeans have stolen
all of our wealth.
The natural resources that should have enriched our people
they now use to enrich their people.
They have lessened our humanity with this theft.
It is an imposed impoverishment of our people.
They have enslaved us to their interests,
they have raped our population,
they have culturally castrated us,
they have massacred our leadership and our warriors
— dooming us to
complete assimiliation,
to the final holocaust of our people.

I am a Nican Tlaca,
part of the Indigenous people of this continent.
I am not Hispanic, which means people or things of Spain,
of the culture of the Spaniards.
I am insulted to be called Hispanic.
It is a lie to call me Hispanic.
Just as much as it is a lie as to call a Lakota
English or British
for speaking English or having a British name.

I am not Latin, Latino, not of the Latins, not of the Romans,
not of the Spaniards, Portuguese, or of the French
—the ones who colonized our continent
and committed a holocaust
upon my people.

I am not Hispanic and not Latino, not a European.
I am Nican Tlaca—of the Indigenous people of this continent.

This is my people’s continent; it is our land
from the time before the Columbus
and tens of thousands of years before that.

This is our land, our continent,
even today, it is rightfully our continent.
This is collectively
my people’s land, our nation.
We call this northern part of our continent Anahuac.
The whole "Western Hemisphere" is Cemanahuac.
We call the collective culture that we are reconstructing: Mexica.
The Mexica were our last great civilization.

I am now old, an old Mexica warrior for my people.
I am now worn and tired
from the struggles for knowledge,
from gaining knowledge, from teaching this knowledge,
from the struggle for the liberation of my people
—from living my life
as a warrior for my people.

I live my life, everyday now, as if tomorrow I will die.
I want to share what I have learned.
I want to share with you my hope for my people.
I want what I will tell you
to be a prayer deep inside your hearts.
I want you to take action once you have learned
what you will learn.



When I was young
I did not notice Canada’s plains, the Mississippi river,
the volcanoes of Mexico and “Central America”
—that they were all covered in blood, the blood of my people,
at the hands of Europeans.
I was blinded to this by my ignorance.

And at Cajamarca in Peru, there too, and on the Argentine plains,
the Caribbean, along the Amazon, in the mountains, the valleys,
this whole continent of my people, North and South,
covered in blood,
the blood of my people, in a holocaust, in a savage genocide,
at the hands of Europeans.

I did not notice the silence and the slavery of my people
when I was young, a child, an adolescent.
I was silent.
I was a slave.
I was ignorant.
No one was there to tell me of the massacres,
the smallpox holocaust
—the one that killed 95% of our population—
at the intentional killing hands of Europeans.

I did not know that our poverty
was a direct result of being robbed
of the vast mineral and land wealth: forests, farmland, gold, iron ore,
the wealth of this our continent—centuries ago,
by the thieving
and killing hands of Europeans.

I did not notice, I did not know, I should’ve known,
but how could I have known
since this was kept from me, this was kept from my people.

When I was young
my identity lay in shame, in poverty, in hopelessness, in ignorance.
My shame
in not being white.
My poverty
in not being white
My not being white.
My ignorance told me I needed to be white.
No other option was presented to me, or made known to me, or even wanted.

I was a child of ignorance.
I was a child of slavery—slavery to the needs and wants of Europeans.
The Europeans in Canada, those in the United States,
the Europeans who control in Mexico,
and in “Central America”, and in “South America”.

I was a slave of ignorance, born not knowing
of the monstrous European crimes.
I did not notice, I did not know
that I and those who are my people, the so-called Indians,
that we were, that we are, the less than 5% who survived.
We survived the massive killings, massacres,
savage attacks by Europeans, the biggest holocaust
in the history of humanity.
I did not know!

I never saw the movie that told of this.
The school books never mentioned this.
My family, my friends, my people never spoke of this.
The world did not speak
to me of this.


Of all of this
I was ignorant.
There was no guidance for me from our leaders,
we had no leaders, no venerables or warriors,
to give me or my people dignity, to teach us honor.

There was no knowledge of our heroes or our accomplishments
that could have been told to us
by teaching us our collective Nican Tlaca history,
the history of our people as an Indigenous people.
There was only racism
since I was a child.
Racism on all of our continent,
Canada to “Central America”,
and down in “South America”.

The racism is everywhere
like a curse on our people.

The colonial nations
that have been forced upon our continent keep us divided
by their borders on our continent,
their languages, their religion,
and their need to keep us ignorant
of our collective ownership
of this whole
“Western Hemisphere”.

We are not free anywhere on our continent
from the control of Europeans.

They tell us where we can go,
on the reservation, in the barrio/ghetto,
and where we cannot go.
They tell us all the wealth of our continent
now belongs to them.
Nothing now belongs to us.

And we say nothing
because we mostly know nothing of the truth.
Not even the Europeans know the truth of all of the crimes
that their people have committed on our people
and on most of the non-European people of the world.



I was ignorant when I was young.
And I cried that I was not a European.
I cried that I was not
in their European pride of Greeks and Romans,
in their wealth, their intelligence, their ingenuity,
their “American work ethic”, in their whiteness.

I was dark,
I was a foreigner, on my own land, on my own continent.
I was just a child of so-called Indians,
who behaved as if they were Europeans.
I behaved like a false European,
knowing all along that I was dark, that I was
a child of this continent
and not of Europe.

I was dark
from an unknown people.
I was dark
I was in darkness.
Darkness was my life of ignorance, my life of everyday.

Back then
when I was young,
escape from the reality
of all these lies and racism
was an absolute necessity to me.

Escape was need and want and everything to me.
Europe and Europeans were everything:
everything good and beautiful was in them.
It was what I was taught. I escaped into their world.
I had no other choice presented to me.

My people were not European
not good, not beautiful, not anything
—they were irrelevant;
or so I had been taught.

In my escapes, I embraced my ignorance as if it was knowledge.
I embraced the culture of Europeans without question.
But then something happened.

Knowledge began to bleed into my life
when I began knowing of the massacres.
Light began to bleed into my mind
when I became conscious of our holocaust.
And I began my quest for deeper knowledge.
I began to learn the truth
and I no longer questioned the color of my skin
but began to question the wrongs
that were done against my people.

Up until then I had not really known
the truth about my people, of our heritage,
of our great civilizations, nor of our accomplishments.
Nor did I know of the crimes of the Europeans:
of their invasions, the rape of our people,
the thefts and massacres, the burning of our libraries,
destruction of our cities, executions of our leaders,
and the using of smallpox as a weapon of mass destruction
to kill 95% of our people, 70 to 100 million killed
in the Western Hemisphere
—all were killed at the hands of the Europeans.

So many of my people were killed...
so that Europeans
could have our land, our continent
—for free, for nothing, just some blood,
almost all of the blood of my people,
almost all of the lives of my people.

I did not know of this before. I did not know.
No one ever told me.

But then I began to know more and more.

But now I’m well into the my middle years, approaching
elderly, approaching the ending of my years.
And now I know all of this.
But I am old.
And I have so much more to learn.

I continue to learn and I teach what I have learned.
I confront racist whites with truth and demands for justice.
I confront the traitors of our people, with mirrors,
for their treason to be seen.
I work with the good whites so that they will know the truth,
and so that they will demand justice.
I work to educate the ignorant ones of my people.
I work to educate the ignorant ones of the Europeans.

But how I wish that I was young and twenty
and knew all of this that I now know.
Most people now know
a limited knowledge, a Eurocentric knowledge,
knowledge that distorts, that makes less
of the crimes of the Europeans,
less of the accomplishments of our people,
less of our ownership of this continent.

Some know of Wounded Knee, where 300—more or less—were killed.
And Sand Creek where another 300—more or less—were killed.
But we all need to know of Tenochtitlan,
where 10,000 warriors in unarmed rituals were killed
at the hands of dishonorable Europeans.
Cajamarca, where 7,000 unarmed warriors were killed
at the savage hands of cowardly Europeans.
Tlaxcala, where 6,000 unarmed warriors were killed
with the pretense of peace
at the hands of immoral, unethical, savage Europeans.

I am still learning every day of crimes committed against my people.
I am still learning of accomplishments that we made,
of archeological sites discovered,
of our art that has been found.

I now know of our great cities.
Tenochtitlan, Tlaxcala, and Cholula
—all of which were larger than any city in Europe.
I now know
we ran an education system in Tenochtitlan
that had the first free and mandatory schools for everyone,
the first in the history of humanity for males and females.

And we think our people don’t like education!

We were a people of science, of hard work, of genius, of discipline.
We had superior knowledge of astronomy, mathematics,
the calendar, medicine, surgery, anatomy, pharmacology, botany,
and a theology that was a science,
that was a pure love of Our Creator.

All of these accomplishments we did in forms superior
to anything the Europeans had in 1492.

Yes, we had cities.
Cities larger than those of Europe.
And our cities were cleaner than the cities of Europe
—with universities, hospitals, public restrooms,
and a marketplace larger than any found
in the Europe of 1492.

Unlike what we have been taught,
the majority of our population on this continent was urban,
living in large cities, large towns,
and located mostly in the south of this northern continent.
The small minority of our people were tribal,
and located mostly in the north.
But we were one people, we are one people,
one nation, one race, united by the culture of corn, by our languages,
by our collective history, by our theology,
and by our collective ownership of this our land, our continent.

The Europeans caused on us a smallpox holocaust
that butchered our population
and destroyed our cities, that has distorted
our reality,
lessened our human potential, made us poor
on our rich continent.

My people need to know of this holocaust, of these crimes.
Europeans need to know of the blood on their hands,
the stolen property that they now hold.

European descent people need to know
of this truth and the need for justice.
The whole world needs to know of this.



I now know so much
so much I should have known so long ago when I was but a child.
I now know
perhaps too much,
more than any human being should ever know
about the crimes of other human beings.
But these are massive and monstrous crimes against my people!
And if I and those who know of these crimes
do not speak out and take actions,
who will?
The world needs to know of these crimes!
I and you and we
need to
let the world know of these hidden crimes!


I now cry some nights that we have no images of our holocaust
to remind us of these crimes.
I cry for the books of our libraries that were burned,
that we will never see.
I mostly cry that I will not see my people free,
that I will not see the pride of my people
when they are free from Europeans
and when we will have regained the sacredness
of our continent, its beauty, its wealth,
—but our independence from the Europeans will come,
of that I am sure, of that you should be sure.

I can see the reality of that freedom in my dreams.

My vision shows me that
truth and justice
will bring our people a non-violent liberation.
Our people will be free to be where the buffalo once lived,
where our cities once were in their glory.
Our people will be able to roam from tip to tip of our continents
without borders on our lands,
without Europeans stealing the wealth of our continent.

One day the rivers, the mountains, the plains, the forests
will no longer be covered in blood, the blood of my people,
not the blood of anyone.

We were a civilized people before Europeans came.
We were a moral and ethical people before they came.
We were a logical, reasonable, people before they came.
We were a courageous and honorable people,
a people of knowledge and science,
of democracy and egalitarianism.
We were a people who honored hard work and merit.

One day our children will be born
into those accomplishments, those freedoms,
as the Nican Tlaca, the Indigenous people of this continent.
Free and beautiful in their own light.

This is what I have had to say.
This is what I know will happen.
And now I say this,
my prayer for my people:

Creator, you who are Our True Mother, Our True Father,
Teach my people courage and honor,
with knowledge and discipline.
Teach the Europeans how to best undo their crimes.
Teach my people and the world
to pray with actions and not with words.

Everyday my actions are my concrete prayer.
I learn and it is prayer.
I teach and it is prayer.
I confront the enemies of my people
and it is prayer.
I confront oppression
and it is prayer.
I am here today in this poem that you read, that you hear,
and it is prayer.

I am of the Nican Tlaca race,
the Indigenous people of this continent,
without the European imposed borders,
without the nations of the Europeans on our continent.

I am a speaker of truth, a seeker of justice.
I am of the Mexica civilization.
I am of the Anahuac nation.
I am Nican Tlaca, an Indigenous person of the continent.

I am a child of my Creator.
I am a warrior for my people.

I live in the European-made hell
that white people have made of my continent.
All the nightmares that my people live
are made by Europeans.

But with knowledge, courage, and my imagination,
I no longer see my people
as enslaved, robbed, mutilated, raped,
and buried alive.
In my liberated vision and in my liberated dreams
I see them in knowledge, courageous, in honor,
with dignity, and freedom.
This vision will be real, we just need to build that dream,
with the courage and imagination of my people.

I am a child of my Creator.
I am a warrior for my people.
I am Mexica.
I am Olin Tezcatlipoca.
I live my life as a prayer for my people.