Danza Azteca and Indigenous Mexican Traditions

April 27, 2003

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel


On April 27, 2003 the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that "it’s Tuesday night in the E.A. Hall Middle School Cafeteria, regular rehearsal night for the Watsonville Danza Azteca group, White Hawk Dancers... But for [Ana] Esquivel, a Watsonville High sophomore, the biweekly rehearsals of Danza Azteca — indigenous Mexican dance — has changed in the past year... She is in her Xilonen year... Xilonen (pronounced she-LOAN-un) is a Nahuatl word meaning tender corn, and is a rite of passage for girls from 12 to 17 years of age. Nahuatl (pronounced NA-watle) is the ancient and very much living language of the Mexica — ancestors of the Aztecs — and their descendants. (There are currently two and a half million Nahuatl speakers in Mexico...) Last year, when Ana celebrated her Xilonen, there were more than 400 dancers and two Xilonen... Since 1983, White Hawk Indian Council — founded in Watsonville by Anai-i and Guillermo Aranda — has nurtured Mexican, Mexican-American and a handful of non-Latino young people and their families in a circle of support and activity that includes Danza Azteca, drumming, mural painting, jewelry making, sweat lodges, ritual, beadwork, sewing and pottery."