MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

As We Heal Ourselves, We Heal the Earth

"The earth is our mother; from her we receive our life and our ability to live. It is our responsibility to care for our mother, and in caring for our mother, we care for ourselves. Women, all females, are a manifestation of Mother Earth in human form."

— Beijing Declaration of Indigenous Women, 1995

When I was very small, my Lita (abuelita -- grandmother) told me a story. She said that when you bury a seed in the ground and it blooms and gives fruit, that means that everything is all right. But if it does not bloom or give fruit, then something is not right. She would tell me stories of a time when food was plentiful, rich, colorful, and nourishing; when the purest of water could be gotten from un ojo de agua (a natural underground spring), and she would tell me about a time when women did not give birth to children with no brains, or no spines, or no limbs. This is what I saw as I was growing up in my community. Something was not right! My Lita's words gave clarity to my vision and hope to my life's work to make things RIGHT!

Over the past 30 years my involvement with many organizations offered me the opportunity to contribute widely to social change. By the 1980s we began to link public health issues to a broader understanding of social justice issues and from the grassroots the environmental and economic justice movement emerged. Rooted in previous and continuing struggles for civil and human rights, the environmental justice movement is integrally linked with other issues of social and racial injustices which confront us on a day-to-day basis. It is inextricably tied with globalization and the expansion of transnational corporations and their greedy appetite for consuming the natural and human resources of the world.

For women of color, the children and home are hers, so whatever affects those becomes our fight. In the environmental justice movement women assert our moral authority as mothers and grandmothers and as community healers and raise our voices for the changes we want that will create a better, safer, healthier life for our family. Because women are the primary caregivers of the family, concerns over the health of our children opened up alternatives for political participation that began to mobilize not only women, but families and whole communities, in forms other than those established by mainstream political systems.

For women of color, and as a Chicana, I would say that the struggle to assert our rights as caregivers, and dignity as women, is an integral part of that struggle. "We cannot liberate our people or acquire human rights without liberating women, and we cannot liberate women until we liberate all people. The issue for us is not so much whether we are feminist but recognize that historically, women's struggles are fundamental to our liberation as a people!"

As a de-tribalized people it has become imperative now more than ever before to share our traditional values and make known the spiritual and cultural contributions of our people. The Eurocentric institutions which govern our country have warped how we view the world around us. Our perception of who we are has been distorted by foreign values which have been forced upon us. The Kalpulli Izkalli is where we can reclaim who we are as women and as a people, heal ourselves and our community, and once again be able to think, see, and feel from our hearts as indigenous people and create the changes necessary for the world we want for our children, our grandchildren, and for future generations.

The development of the Kalpulli Izkalli has brought me full circle. It is the fruition of experiences and knowledge, and the collective history and culture of my community. For me, it is the culmination of almost thirty years as an apprentice of traditional medicine and ceremony and of community activism and organizing. The Kalpulli is an effort to create an alternative institution that can serve as a model for "integrating strategies to educate, advocate, and take action on those changes necessary to protect human life and the earth and her resources with proactive alternatives that promote traditional knowledge and ethics of behavior that celebrate the intrinsic value and sacredness of the natural world and its interdependence on humanity. As we heal ourselves, we heal the earth!"

— Sylvia Ledesma

Kalpulli Izkalli are Nahuatl words meaning: Kalpulli (Community) and Izkalli (House of the Light/Resurgence). Kalpulli Izkalli was formed in 1996 as an intergenerational resource and action center to promote, preserve, and protect cultural and traditional practices. We are dedicated to community healing through these practices which include agriculture, medicine and traditional healing, ceremony, as well as the use of art, music, dance, writing and individual creativity to enhance personal, family, community and general human development. Kalpulli Izkalli exists to strengthen the capacity for individuals and families to create positive changes in the way we live that foster healing and renewal for ourselves and Mother Earth.

For Additional information contact:
Kalpulli Izkalli
1028 Ann Ave. SW
Albuquerque, NM 87105
(505) 452-9208

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"Una cosa es vestir y alimentar a nuestras hijas, sin embargo lo esencial es enseñarles que otras personas — fuera de ellas mismas — son tambien importantes. Lo mejor que pueden hacer con sus vidas es dedicarlas al servicio de los demás."

"Giving kids clothes and food is one thing, but it's much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people."

--Dolores Huerta

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