Dia de la Raza/Indigenous Peoples Day
October 12 (or the nearest Monday to it) is usually observed as Chistopher Columbus Day in the United States, but for a lot of us who are descendants of Latino America, Christopher Columbus is not a person worth of a celebration.
Ironically, however, the opposition of Columbus Day started with anti-immigrant nativists who sought to eliminate the celebration because of its association with immigrants from Catholic countries. One particular group, the Ku Klux Klan, was opposed to statues and celebrations of Columbus because they blamed him for the increased Catholic influence in the United States.
Later in the 20th century is when the more popular opposition grew from Native American and Latino groups. This opposition comes from the fact that Columbus started European colonization in LatinoAmerica. This resulted in the spread of diseases, slavery, rape, oppression, genocide, and other injustices towards natives.
As a result, Latinos/Hispanics substituted the Columbus Day celebrations with Dia de la Raza; a day to educate people on and remember the injustices done by conquistadores after Columbus’s voyages. The day is also a celebration of Hispanic heritage in Latin America. Although the actions of European colonizers were cruel and must never be forgotten and disguised, it resulted in what is now a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and a society with beautiful cultures and traditions. During Hispanic Heritage Month and Dia de la Raza we celebrate the contributions of our Indigenous and Hispanic brothers and sisters.
The holiday also serves for our communities to reflect on the challenges we still face, not just Hispanics, but the indigenous people of Latino countries that are still being oppressed. Nearly 13% of Mexico and Latin America’s populations consist of indigenous people.
At Charro Azteca, we try to keep the traditions of Mexico alive, but also want people to be educated on how some of our traditions came about, usually Spanish and Aztec beliefs intertwined to create an entirely new and beautiful culture. Although we are proud of our roots, we cannot forget educate ourselves on how those traditions came about and we cannot belittle the pain that our people indigenous ancestors suffered. To this day, there is prejudice towards indigenous people in Mexico by Mexican people themselves. We cannot be proud of who we are (and wear artisanal embroidered blouses, huaraches, dresses, etc.) without being proud of indigenous culture and the beauty that it has contributed to our people.