Our Ancestors’ Roadmap

Written by Yvonne Sandoval

July 1, 2020

Viewing the world from rural New Mexico has felt painful and disorienting these past few months, as well as deeply meaningful. From here I see dominant systems collapsing before our eyes, more rapidly than ever before. I see our neighbors, hard hit by unemployment in COVID-19, realizing that the Indigenous farming of Bueno Para Todos Farming Cooperative is desperately needed and truly sustainable. I see that the most recent police killings — of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McLain — are catalyzing change that people have been dying for over 500 years.

These days I go outside more often to be with the plants on our farm, offering blue corn in exchange for the land’s food and knowledge. I am more grateful each day for the hard crusted clay soil underneath my feet that reminds me to stay in the present moment as I struggle with my over-occupied mind. I know that it is in our relationship with the natural world that we are reminded of our interdependence. Abundance takes many forms, as does our fierce resilience. As my Indigenous elders would say, we have two paths: one path leads us to the birth of a new world; the other to our death. There is no in between, the elders say. I know that the wisdom of our ancestors is our only roadmap.

Decolonizing our relationship to land has never felt more urgent. Our communal farm, Bueno Para Todos, is located in northern New Mexico on what was once Pecos territory. The Pecos people were one of the largest and most populous of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Nearly every Pecos relative was killed at the hands of colonizers. A handful were absorbed into the Jemez Pueblos, my ancestral lineage. It was here in New Mexico, as in other regions of the U.S. and Mexico, that Native peoples were taken into captivity as slaves by Spanish colonizers. Spanish colonizers then enslaved Black people in the second wave of mass slavery in this territory. The land and its ancestors hold these memories. Both deserve to heal.

Bueno Para Todos has shown up powerfully to nourish our community in the  pandemic, creating community food systems that can last well beyond this moment and healing our community’s relationship to the land. Bueno Para Todos is proud to be featured in the latest video in the Vision Through COVID: Portals to the Future series.

Bueno Para Todos is planting other seeds as well, putting into place decolonization practices for our farm, including agreements on who we photograph and how, making sure BIPOC people are centered in decision making and communications, creating a more equitable workload, instituting reflection practices, and making sure spiritual practices are part of how we engage with the plants and each other. We are reaching out to other farmers in our region to denounce white supremacy and reflect on how their current practices foster racism through Spanish idealization. Through our artist collective Alas de Agua we have created a poster with the symbol of  a fist and the three sisters — corns, beans and squash — to remind everyone that we are doing this work collectively and in solidarity. These are our steps today in a path set for the next seven generations.

To support Bueno Para Todos (New Mexico) and MoBetta Greens (Colorado), please visit https://bit.ly/BIPOCfarms

Yvonne Sandoval

Yvonne Sandoval is an artist, poet, healer, mother, activist, community organizer, and Indigenous permaculturalist. She is the Executive Director of El Valle Women's Collaborative in Villanueva, New Mexico and a member of Bueno Para Todos Farming Cooperative. With 20 years experience as a therapist she draws from mindfulness and transpersonal-based practices using narrative and cognitive based problem solving approaches, weaving Western and ancestral approaches to assist people in their healing process.

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