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Appreciating the Column of the Americas

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There are people who become linkages between two or more cultures. They are
often precious individuals because they can interpret and are, more than
most, in positions to know wider and deeper truths, from the inside and the
outside.

Such is the case with Chicana/o writers Patrisia Gonzalez and Roberto
Rodriguez - companions and collaborators - whose occasional columns we
formally welcome to our pages.

Patrisia and Roberto, columnists since 1994 for the Universal Press
Syndicate, are in the vein of contemporary Mexica scholars currently
reclaiming the indigenous base of identity of many so-called Latino or
Hispanic people in the Americas.

This is an important intellectual-cultural space that deserves all the
attention it can get. Fact is the majority of Latino or Hispanic Americans
are substantially rooted in indigenous tribal backgrounds. Increasingly,
people migrating north from Latin America, sustain and reclaim their
Mexica, Maya, Taino, Andean and other indigenous roots. This couples to a
serious Chicano movement from the 1970s that saw the mytho-historical
concept of "Aztlan" projected as cultural and political symbol of
independence and resistance to complete assimilation to American Anglo
culture. It also dovetails with the rise of a global indigenous movement of
mutual recognition and support, at the United Nations and across national
and cultural boundaries. These days, community cultural centers, legal
services, health clinics, tribal councils and other structures revealing
the consistency of hemispheric indigenous identities are springing up or
reclaiming their identities in North America. Patrisia and Roberto's work
often reflects this emerging reality.

Patrisia was the first Latina (Chicana-Kikapu) syndicated columnist in the
country. She attended the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and
worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Tucson Citizen and
the Corpus Christi Caller. She is a founding member of the National
Association of Hispanic Journalists and a member of the Native American
Journalists Association.

Patrisia's celebratory and sorrowful Mexican homeland sojourn, "The Mud
People: Chronicles, Testimonies and Remembrances" (Chusma House Press,
September 2002), examines the transformation of ordinary people when faced
with endemic human rights violations. It is an insightful journey in the
heart and soul of Mexico through the bi-cultural eyes of a writer who is
not afraid to live and travel among the common people to document their
internal history.

Roberto since 1990 has been a senior writer with Black Issues in Higher
Education and is the author of several books, including the electronic
books: "The X in La Raza" and "Codex Tamanchuan: On Becoming Human." He has
published columns in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the
Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today. Two of his books, about police
brutality, "Assault With a Deadly Weapon" (1984) and "On the Wrong Side of
the Law" were published under one title: "Justice: A Question of Race"
(Bilingual Review Press).

One outstanding contribution by the talented duo was the uncovering in 1998
of a series of maps that have located the "Ancient Homeland of the Aztecs"
in what appears to be present-day Utah. This "discovery" was a surprising
revelation. It is the subject of two documentaries, "Going Back to Where We
Came From" and "In Search of Aztlan" and three forthcoming books.

Formerly of El Paso, Texas, and Albuquerque, N.M., Patrisia and Roberto
were inducted into El Paso's 1997 "Writers of the Pass Hall of Fame." They
were awarded the 1998 human rights award from the Albuquerque Human Rights
office. In 1998, they served as University of California Regents lecturers
at the University of California, San Diego.

A collection of their columns, "Gonzales/Rodriguez: Uncut & Uncensored" was
published in 1997 by the Ethnic Studies Publication Unit at UC Berkeley. As
Indian country seeks to reinvigorate and reestablish its historic
connections across cultural borders, much of which must necessarily involve
Latino or Hispanic peoples in the Americas, it is vitally important that we
hear from those who carry with them similar understanding, sensitivity and
insight.