I’ve had a lot of mind-blowing moments in MYFest so far, but the one I want to write about is LeRoy Saiz’s talk for Dark Matter y la Facultad. (THANK YOU, LEROY… and many thanks also to Felecia and Heather for making that track happen!)
First, a tiny preface: a friend of mine told me a while back that he wanted to learn Nahuatl. I thought that sounded very cool, but my ignorance was pretty much total. I had a dictionary-definition of Nahuatl in my mind (and barely even that). I just knew that I didn’t know anybody who had studied Nahuatl. So, yay, I told him, very cool!
Anyway, because of that, as soon as LeRoy started talking to us about being a Nahuatl speaker, and about his journey to learning about indigenous ways of knowing in Nahuatl texts (yes: TEXTS)… well, I was totally absorbed in every word. I hope he writes a book someday! You can find out more at the website Heather and Felecia created for their track: LeRoy Saiz.
To find out more about his work, I used Google, and it led me to his masters thesis online! Here’s an extract from the abstract: “The purpose of this study is to identify a Xikan@ Indigenous identity and determine the factors that situate othered or sub altern Indigenous identities in the peripheries of Indigeneity. As exemplified through auto-ethnography and traditional storywork, the creation of a Xikan@ methodological approach can articulate the need to maintain hemispheric approaches to Indigeneity, while respecting the uniqueness of local epistemologies such as Xikan@ Traditional Knowledge (XIK).”
How amazing does that sound?
So, I can put a specific date … July 6 … on the moment when a whole new world of learning opened up for me. I’ve got LeRoy’s thesis to read, plus all the books by Gloria Anzaldúa that Felecia introduced us to. And all of that is going to lead me to read more, and more.
Which means that now I am even more excited for my friend who wants to learn Nahuatl. It’s not just a dictionary word for me anymore. Instead, it is a whole world of meaning, a world I learned about thanks to MYFest.