Thursday, June 25, 2020

This Land is My Land. Fifty-three percent estimate DNA Indigenous to Americas, Mexico, North America, Haiti and Dominican Republic, and Northern Africa. by Juliana Aragón Fatula

June 25, 2020

Juliana in 1971

Juliana and the Chicana Icon, Denise Chavez

Dear Reader,

I am disgusted by the turmoil in this country about race. The hate against people of color and their dark skin makes me outraged. I cannot pass for white. I am married to a white man and he cannot pass for Mexican Indian. We are a mixed-race couple living in southern Colorado, in Trump Country. This is my land.

I have hope for the future; however, my depression has changed to anger with a heavy heart filled with rage. The state of the country disturbs me for not just the U.S., but also the planet. I have discovered in my genealogy research many heartbreaking stories of my ancestors.

I am Chicana, fifth generation indigenous to Southern Colorado and my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents are buried in Villa Nueva, New Mexico, Alamosa, and Cañon City, Colorado. If you do not understand the difference between Chicana/Chicano and Mexican American and Hispanic, read some books and learn the difference.

My dark skin is from my Native American ancestors. My sister’s fair skin is from the Spanish ancestors. I don’t speak English only, but I don’t speak Spanish. I speak Spanglish. My ancestors had large families. My parents raised nine children in Southern Colorado. My cousins are in the hundreds. We are a tribe. We are Mexican Indians/Chicanos/Mestizos/mixed blood. We are not Hispanic. That is a governmental label. There are Chinese Chicanos, Black Chicanos, etc., and we come in all colors.

My ancestors were Navajo and Ute. I discovered documentation by Indian Agent, Lafayette Head, who sold Native American orphans and women to farmers. My great-grandfather was a four-year-old Navajo orphan sold to the Gomez family in Alamosa for food and horses. I discovered documentation that my great-great-grandmother, Abrana Quintana, was full-blooded Ute, but the publication does not state how she ended up married to a white man, a minister named Albert George Jacobs in Alamosa.

Her daughter, half-white and half-Ute, married my great-grandfather, Jose Gomez, a full-blooded Navajo, and my grandmother on my mother’s maternal side, Febe, was mixed blood. My mother’s father, Miramón Mondragon, was a Mexican Indian, but I haven’t found any documentation on where his ancestors originated, but they lived in Southern New Mexico and migrated to Alamosa in Southern Colorado during the 1800’s. He was most likely, Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, or Ute. That information alludes me. My mother’s side were dark skinned like me.

My father’s grandfather was Navajo, Diné from Villa Nueva, near Santa Fe. I don’t know how he came to be named Aragón, but my belief is that he was raised in one of the Catholic missionaries and was sold to a farmer named Aragón. My grandfather, Juan Aragón, married a Mexican Indian/Spaniard mixed blood. My father told me that his grandfather was a Navajo sheepherder and he didn’t speak English. I know their names but little else about their history. They were peasants and baptized, married, and buried Catholic. I hope that church records will lead me to more answers someday.

I’ve visited my father’s and grandparents’ birthplace Villa Nueva, New Mexico, my mother’s birthplace, Howard, Colorado; my grand-parents birthplace in Alamosa, Colorado and found only memories. It’s all I have. The Mexican Indian ancestors have very little documentation of their existence in the history books.

I can trace the European ancestor back to Hingham Norfolk, England. I discovered my mother’s ancestor, George Jacobs Sr., who was born in Salem, Massachusetts and was hung in 1692, during the Salem Witch Trials. George was brought to trial after being in chains for several weeks. When accused of being a wizard (male witch) by the magistrates, he stated “You tax me for a wizard; you may as well tax me for a buzzard.” And his last words were, Well burn me or hang me. I’ll stand in the truth of Christ”. His headstone at his grave states, “Here lies the body of George Jacobs, Sr., hanged August 19, 1692. His granddaughter, Mary Jacobs, was also hung. The remainder of this family fled to Maine and eventually headed to the West and landed in New Mexico.

My great-great-grandmother, Abrana Quintana, was full-blooded Ute and married Albert George Jacobs Sr. He worked as a Presbyterian minister in Santa Fe, New Mexico to the Pueblo Indians. Was she sold to him? I’ll never know. She had my great-grandmother who married my great-grandfather a full-blooded Navajo.

My DNA estimates my indigenous blood at almost 53%. The remainder is a mixture of African, European, and Spanish. I’m mixed blood. We are all related. We all come from Africa.

I have faced racism and bigotry all my life because of my dark skin. I stand for Black Lives Matter. I am trying to educate my friends and loved ones why I stand for Black Lives Matter. A few of them tell me all lives matter. Claro que sí. Until the people no longer have to protest in the streets and chant no justice no peace, I will stand for Black Lives Matter. I will also stand for the rights of Indigenous people and all people of color. I will also stand for the LGBTQ community. I will stand for the rights of people who are marginalized and discriminated against and who are not treated equally.   

If you don’t understand Black Lives Matter, don’t ask your friend to explain it to you. Read a book. Buy a book. Buy a book from a bookstore that is operated by a person of color, like Denise Chávez. She is an activist in Las Cruces who operates the Casa Camino Real Bookstore and works with the refugees at the border.  In her own words her bookstore, “Casa Camino Real, began distributing books to local refugee hospitality centers where families would be sent after being released from the ICE facility in El Paso, en route to their sponsors somewhere in the U.S. by either bus or plane. I also began to distribute books on Wednesday mornings at Peace Lutheran Church, in Las Cruces. My husband and fellow book steward, Daniel Zolinsky, and I spread out a large table of donated books, one side for children, the other for adults. After I introduced myself and the program, families would join us. In time, I began storytelling sessions and language lessons. I knew then that I had found my call to service.”

Casa Camino Real, in Las Cruces, hosts Bookends, a program that allows visitors to creatively connect with the stories, art, and culture of the borderland region. The program is currently gathering stories, art, and photographs for a forthcoming anthology titled We Are Here to Represent. The anthology will address the voices of the refugee, asylum, and immigrant families and those who continue to work with and serve them.”  

“Casa Camino Real, an independent bookstore, collects books for Libros para el Viaje. Donors have included major publishing companies, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and many independent publishers and hundreds of bookstores in the U.S., Latin America, and New Zealand. Authors, artists, filmmakers, and countless readers have also donated. For more information about Libros para el Viaje, contact Denise Chávez at 575-523-3988,”

Border Servant Corps sponsors a Border Immersion program, which brings high school and college students, as well as working adults, to the U.S.–Mexico border. Such programs enable visitors to speak with first-generation immigrants, visit local organizations working with immigrant populations, meet government officials to hear about border protection and law enforcement, learn about immigration law, and build an understanding of economic policies and realities affecting people on the border.”

Denise Chávez fights for justice daily at the border. She is my shero, and she gives me hope. I urge you to read about the real history of this country. Not the history that was fed to us in school. The true history of how this country was built on the backs of slaves and marginalized people of color.

Please educate yourself and your children so we can end this injustice and finally have peace in this country. No justice, no Peace.

And if you want to help Denise in her Libros para el Viaje or Border Servant Corps working on the border, please, please consider donating to their cause and don’t just pray for the man or woman with their neck under someone’s boot. Do something.  Thank you for continuing to follow my growth and progress as a human being. I am blessed to have you read my work. Until next month, Juliana. p.s. I still have a dream. Do you?

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