By Ricardo Moguel Rosado
As kids we had to learn English in school and forgot the Castilian language and our Mayan mother tongue, To be civilized we had to change our traditions, customs, stop using the slate, pizarra, and start using pencil and paper. We had long been weaned from the Amate tree bark paper. To be modern, we had to become consumers of canned goods imported by ‘Brodies’, and forget our chaya, corn and fruits from our milpas, or so they taught us in our school. Nobody cared how the distraught young kids trapped between 3 cultures survived under the weight of the Mighty British Empire and the Catholic nuns teaching us how to be subservient within the British Empire. Kids with no shoes and hungry being confused instead of educated. And we survived and thrived under a strong work ethic and dedication to family and church, something the Catholic King Ferdinand inherited us or they would kill us.
So we lost our Maya tongue because the power structure saw it as a symbol of rebellion, of autonomy and the shadow of war. They built Fort Cairns and Fort Mundy in Orange Walk not to protect us but to enslave us because in the Yalbac Hills they were burning our villages and destroying our crops. Being Maya was a threat to the status quo. So in order to ensure cultural and physical survival, our parents stopped using the Maya language and switched to Castilian and made us learn a bastard English in school in order to survive and serve the British Empire. We were no longer Maya but proud British subjects with absolutely no right or privilege from England, not even the right to enter England without a visa. Yet, we were Maya living in Maya land as proud citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. Some of us still believe this stereotypic garbage and believe they are proud descendants of the Baymen, mental slavery. Everything from Europe is perfect they think. To decolonize our minds, we need to teach our verifiable history in our schools by properly trained historians and not be repetitive of all the distortions they have taught us to justify their land robbery from the Maya.
I was going to use the word Spanish language but I remembered my ‘tatito’ telling us as kids that he spoke “Castilian,” Castellano. He was right, Spain did not finance the voyages of Christopher Columbus to the new world. We were taught wrong in school.
When the 87 Europeans left the port of Cadiz on August 3, 1492 in the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, Spain did not exist. They sailed under the auspices of Ferdinand from Aragon and Isabela from Castile who joined both kingdoms by marriage in 1469. Other kingdoms in the Iberian Peninsula were Leon, Navarra, Granada and other smaller entities.
Hernan Cortez, Francisco de Montejo, and all other conquistadores were Castilian. With their conquest they enriched and developed Castile and Aragon. With the riches of the American continent, from Aztec, Maya and Inca, we developed the Iberian Peninsula beyond anyone’s imagination. Gold, silver, Jade, exotic fruit and spices, and many other riches were extracted from our continent and took to Europe leaving nothing behind but misery. When Carlos I swore as the first King of Castile and Aragon in 1516 Spain was still 12 years from being born.
It was in 1528 when there was a Kingdom of Spain ruled by Carlos I. We are the mother country of those European nations that developed because of the resources extracted from our lands. Those were the times of philosopher kings in Yucatan, the Maya who loved mathematics, astrology, advanced agriculture, good warriors who loved flowers, literature and death by an obsidian blade.
And as tradition would have it, the Yucatan Peninsula considered itself Castilian because most of the rulers in Yucatan had been from Castile. And that tradition, can be traced all the way back to my grandfather and his father in 1847 when they were living in Icaiche having migrated from Campeche. This makes us Icaiche Maya. ‘Wáayanone,’ aquí estamos. The Maya Nation.