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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Ode to Chiapas

Nuestro Senor Hizo el Cielo y Hizo el Bosque.

(Our Lord Made the Sky and He Also Made the Forest.)

by CHAN KIN, Viejo del Naja, Lacandon Rain Forest

En el cielo sembro estrellas y en el bosque sembro arboles.
Son una sola de las raices de las estrellas y las raices de los arboles.
Cuando cae un arbol, cae una estrella.

In the sky he planted stars and in the forest he planted trees.
There is only one group of stars and only one source of trees.
When a tree falls, a star also falls.

The Flower as a Gift of Thanks

In a recent communique from the Zapatistas, written on March 17th, 1994, Subcommandante Marcos reiterated the importance of this network coordination. It is obvious from his words that these networks are making a real difference. He said:

"and we learned that there were marches and songs and movies and other things that were not war in Chiapas, which is the part of Mexico where we live and die. And we learned that these things happened, and that "NO TO WAR!" was said in Spain and in France and in Italy and in Germany and in Russia and in England and in Japan and in Korea and in Canada and in the United States and in Argentina and in Uruguay and in Chile and in Venezuela and in Brazil and in other parts where it wasn't said but it was thought. And so we saw that there are good people in many parts of the world..."

Marcos obviously was touched by the fact that people have labored all over the world for the Zapatista cause. So he closed the communique with a personal thank you:

"And we want to say to you, to everyone, thank you. And that if we had a flower we would give it to you... and when they are old, then they can talk with the children and young people of their country that, 'I struggled for Mexico at the end of the 20th century, and from over here I was there with them and I only know that they wanted what all human beings want, for it is not to be forgotten that they are human beings and for it to be remembered what democracy, liberty and justice are, and I did not know their faces but I did know their hearts and it was the same as ours'... Goodbye. Health and a promised flower: a green stem, a white flower, red leaves, and don't worry about the serpent, this that flaps its wings is an eagle which is in charge of it, you will see..."

Now is the Time!

by Saki, Spiritual Brother of Marcos

Now is the Time! Crush the Serpent!
The best way to crush the Serpent, is to live!
Right in his footprints. Show him that he cannot crush you!

This was why that Lady came, Our Lady of Guadalupe. They said she said:


Now is the Time! You make the land Sacred by where you walk. Walk free!

No fences. Land without fences is Sacred!

Talk! Land where Talk is, is Sacred!

Come talk. This is the real House of Mica.
Land where they come to understand, is Sacred!

Now is the Time! You make the land Sacred again.
You show the People the best way to make the land Sacred.

To stop the Dragon; To trample the Serpent;
To break the Chains; Is to:

Walk Freedom!

Talk Freedom!

Live Freedom!


So if you die, You die in Freedom!

This is how you make the Land Sacred again.

Thank you!

For so long the people have lived under the Serpent,
But now you have found the door.

Find the Key! Build the Place!
Crush the Serpent! Make the Land Sacred again!

Make it so never again; Are there chains.
People eating people; Feeding on each others' blood.

Never again are there; Barbed wire fences.
People taking away land; So others cannot grow food.

Never again are there lies; People afraid to say the truth.

Never again are there people; Forced to worship the Dragon!

Now is the Time! You have found the Place!
You have built the City! You invite the People!

Come! Talk! Plant! Live!

Make the Land Sacred again!!

The long journey from despair to hope

by Subcomandante Marcos

For Mr. Ik,
Tzeltal prince,
founder of the CCRI-CC of the EZLN,
helped in the battles of Ocosingo, Chiapas,
in January of 1994. (Wherever he is...)

"When He arrives we are living,
and from the depths of the Castle of the poor
where we had so many just like us,
so many accomplices, so many friends
the sail of courage is raised
We must raise it without vacillation.

Tomorrow we will know why
when we triumph. A long chain of passion
was unimprisoned. The ration of injustice and the ration of shame
are truly too bitter to bear.

Everything is not necessary to make a world.
Happiness is necessary and nothing more.
To be happy it is only necessary to see clearly and fight.
We must not wait even an instant:
Let us raise our heads.
Let us take the land by force."

Mexico: between dreams, nightmares and awakenings

Which speaks of neoliberal chants of 24 mermaids, of reefs of
gold, of grounding on sand bars of depression and of other dangers
that threaten the pirates on high seas.

The Nation Speaks and the Pain

They have treated me like a piece
of injured land,
full of scars.
of wounds that do not heal,
from beatings and downfalls.

They have treated me like a
never ending curse,
like a home left in ruins and bitterness.

How heavy is history!

Full am I with traitors and thieves,
each humiliation is added and grows,
each tribulation accumulates.

The imperial eagle tears at my insides
and powerful men divide among themselves
my seas and my mountains,
my rivers and deserts
my valleys and cliffs.

These are my afflictions,
large and never ending:
the pain of my mangled ground,
the pain of my impoverished land,
the pain of my betrayed son,
the pain of my lost battle...


This thing that is one's country is somewhat
difficult to explain
But it is more difficult to understand what it is
to love one's country
For example
they taught us that to love one's country is, for
to salute the flag
to rise upon hearing the National Anthem
To get drunk when the national soccer team loses
To get drunk when the national soccer team wins
Some etceteras that change little from six-year
term to six-year term
And, for example,
they didn't teach us that to love one's country
can be
for example
to whistle like one who is leaving, but
behind that hill there is also part of the
country and nobody can see us
And we are frank with each other (because one
always is frank when nobody sees them)
And we tell the country,
for example,
everything we hate about it
and everything we love about it
and it is always better to say it,
for example,
with gunshots and smiling
And, for example,
they taught us that to love one's
country is
for example
to use a campesino sombrero
to know the names of the child-heroes
to shout "Viva-arriba Mexico!" even though Mexico
is down and dead.
Other etceteras which change little from six-year
term to six-year term.
And, for example,
they did not teach us that
to love the country
could be,
for example,
to be quiet as one who dies,
but no,
below this earth there is also country
and no one hears us
and we are frank
(because one is always frank when no one hears us)
and we tell
(the country).
the short and hard history
of those who were dying to love it
and that they are no longer hear to give me the reasons,
but they give me them without being here,
those who taught us
that the country can be loved,
for example,
with gunshots and smiling.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am the escaped one,
after I was born
They locked me up inside me
but I left.
My soul seeks me,
through hills and valley,
I hope my soul
never finds me.

"The gaze, which is looking
where it cannot see, turns:
Both of us are talking
What was not conserved.
Does this begin or end?"

"The one who has a song
will have a storm,
The one who follows a good road
will have dangerous points
which will invite them to stop.
But the song has worth,
good storm
and the company
is worth the solitude.
The agony of haste
is always worth it
though the points
are filled with truth."

"Among my sweet loves
One is worth more than others
which has loved me without rancor
of my tarariraran...
A sweet old woman
Who I don't deserve
Who with all her heart
Has given me the most divine love."

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.