Mexicas, descendants of the Aztecs, are among the thousands of indigenous Mexicans living in the New York area; some of them like the members of Yayauhki Tezcatlipoca, are sharing their ancient traditions at pow wows throughout the northeast and hoping to correct some erroneous views of their culture and beliefs.
According to a study sponsored by the Mexican Consulate, of the one million Mexicans living in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, 17 percent, or 170,000, of those people are indigenous.
On Labor Day, Yayauhki Tezcatlipoca performed dances and shared a few prayers in Nahuatl for the crowds at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Pow Wow.
Tezcatl Arias, known as 'first word' in the group explained the meanings of the dances and some history of Mexica cosmology.
"The phrase Tezcatlipoca means smoking mirror and it is not, as the Europeans have said, a god," Arias asserted. "It is a science that deals with nature and the supernatural."
"For instance, it is through the vibrations in the music that one can reach other levels of consciousness; through meditation as well," he stated.
"The idea of Tezcatlipoca being a god, that was written by the invaders, not us," Arias continued. "People forget or don't know that we were astronomers, architects and other things that are obscured or misrepresented by so many sources, especially on the Internet."
"One of the things we're doing, in our dances and talks, is to re-educate people," Arias stated.
At the Harrisburg Pow Wow, the group performed several dances relating to the natural world and the people's relationship with the four corners or directions.
The dances were explained to the audience in Harrisburg and included the: Coatlicue, dance for Mother Earth; Tlaloc for the Lord of the rain; Tletl for fire; Xipetotec for the regeneration of the natural world; and Centli, the dance of the cycle of life of the corn, a sacred entity for Mexica people and many others.
The main participants of Yayauhki Tezcatlipoca include Arias, who is 'first word' or guide along with Itztli Figueroa the fire keeper, Victor Sanchez who sounded the conch and Teresa Guzman who played drums. Other invited dancers were identified as Yuma, Geraldine, Beto Vera, and Consuelo Tlalteolli.
Arias noted that this was the group's fourth visit to the Harrisburg Pow Wow and that they enjoyed spending time with the other Native people at the event.
He added that Yayauhki Tezcatlipoca, which also has a Facebook page, will be performing at events in Poughkeepsie, New York and Stamford, Connecticut in the coming weeks.