01 Aug First Annual Borderlands Festival: Partying it up across borders!
It has been since 1988 that Coronado National Memorial last saw and hosted a festival, but thanks to the diligence of Ranger Christopher Bentley, that will soon change. We are set to host our Borderlands Festival Saturday November 5th. The goal of this festival is to celebrate the cultural and environmental diversity of the area. A place to create partnerships and bring the community together from both sides of the border despite its existence, divisive and crude history. We will transcend borders in a festival in which organizations and folks of all interests and likes are welcome. In the honor and respect of the communities who had their lands stolen by European settlers and government organizations on the Turtle continent, we have invited the Tohono O’odham, to finally give a voice to a community that has faced subjugation, persecution and genocide for centuries. When Spanish invaders entered what is now the Southwestern US and Northwestern Mexico, the Spanish brutalized the Apaches, Tohono O’odham and many more who we have no record of any more. Enslaved they were forced to build Catholic churches in which their traditional way of thinking was beaten out of them and their children. Things did not go any better with the arrival of Anglo settlers who persecuted and displaced the Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui, Hopi, Navajo, and more into reservations which were not fit to support the lives of the communities. Fortunately, against the will of the US government and the colonizing powers, the indigenous communities survive and in many cases thrive to continue the teachings of their ancestors. We hope to receive the blessing of the Tohono O’odham to continue our celebration. Along with the Tohono O’odham tribe, is the Amerind Museum and Archaeology research site which was established in 1937 to conserve the vast cultural material and give a platform to indigenous folks of the continent to voice their experiences and histories. Due the arrival of the Spanish with Coronado and future settlers, the Latin@/x and Chican@/ community has had an impact of over 500 years on the culture of the Southwest and with the help of Latino Outdoors, the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center the Southwest Folk Alliance and more, we will acknowledge this history and claim our space as patrons of the National Park Service and people of the sun who have had a Conservation Cultura that dates back millenia. The greatest influences that we discuss at our visitor center are architecture, customs and cuisine. In Tumacacori, we see the merging of adobe bricks as the primary structure of Catholic churches in the Southwest while Spanish design give them their distinct look. In terms of customs, things from the rodeo to Dia de los Muertos provide just a minute taste of the diversity in customs which were adopted by the Spanish and practiced by the indigenous folks. And to say the least the food culture which was exchanged not only changed the Southwest but revolutionized the world as a whole. Puerco, papas, maiz, chocolate, jitomate! Imagine Switzerland without Chocolate, Italy without salsa de jitomate, or Mexico without its carnitas! None of these could have happened without this exchange of cultures which was brought by colonization. Yet, we are survivors and are ready to make our new mark as we immerse ourselves into the outdoors. To help us do that, Borderlands Theater, modeled after Teatro Campesino from the Chicano Movement, will help us keep the art of storytelling alive by acting out their original piece of “La Calle” speaking of the gentrification and demolishing of a Mexican Barrio of Tucson where the convention center sits now. Finally, in the spirit of the Centennial of the National Park Service, we’ve also invited the local conservation groups dedicated in educating the public on the importance of preserving our wildlife and environment such as the Sky Island Alliance, Friends of the Huachuca Mountains and more. One that i think is particularly important is the Native Seed/SEARCH. With my background in Food Security, this organization was a must have. Their job is to find, save and share native seeds, particularly of the southwest to ensure its preservation to maintain a diversity of food crops which is threatened by climate change and advances in the genetic sciences. Though not a primary function of the NPS, it is very important to be involved the the preservation of food culture as it is what in the end will have a longer lasting impact on communities and can really give you an idea of social organization and rituals.