Learning to love our Native roots

Note: This article is written by a 17 year old young man of Puerto Rican and Quechan Indian heritage. He writes about how his confused identity led him into passing for Mexican on the streets of LA and getting deeply involved gangbanging. It has been his search for his true native identity that has rescued him. He now lives in San Francisco where he's finishing high school and he next wants to go college. His goal? To return to LA to help other young people find their true paths.

I wish him well.

But how many more of our young people are hurting themselves or others due to their confusion? How many of us older folks walk around wounded inside because we're still confused? Isn't it time for you to learn to love your native roots?

UPDATE: The article does not appear to be available either on YO! or New America News, but it is on a yahoogroup. Here's the link: Cholo: Learning to love my Native roots (by Alex Cantero, 17, YO! Youth Outlook - 6.11.07)

My mom is Quechan Native American and grew up in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles, while my dad was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York. So, I have Indian from both sides. One side is Taino Indian, the people who were raped by Columbus and whose land he stole.

Quechan Indians are from Arizona. Their land is right on the border of Mexico and Arizona and was occupied by the Spaniards. From what I’ve read on the internet, the Quechans fought the Spaniards. They weren’t wiped out like many other tribes were. It makes me proud that they fought the conquerors. If I were around back then, I would have been one of the main warriors, wiping out every European I came across.

My mom’s immediate family has lived in L.A since the early 1900s, while the rest of her family lived on the reservation in Arizona. In L.A., they struggled when growing up because they were Indian and they grew up in the barrio.

The Pachucos – Mexican gangsters in L.A during the 40s, famous for wearing Zoot Suits and fighting with sailors – used to beat up my grandma and my mom’s uncles just for being Indian. That just shows how ignorant people are about their own history and how their race came into existence.

Many Latino people don’t realize they are children of rape because before the Spaniards came, this was all native land. A lot of Latinos deny their Indian roots because they were brainwashed by Christianity and Spanish culture. In Mexican culture, “indio” is the same as “poor and stupid.”



  1. Anonymous6/14/2008

    I'd like to read this article in its entirity. Everytime I click on a link to read the full article, it is not available. How can I find a copy?

  2. Alex Cantero's article does appear to have been purged from the YO! and New America News sites, but it was saved on a yahoogroup. Click the upadted link in the post for the full article. Thanks.