Richard Walker
Tloke Nahuake, the Salinas family dance circle from Mexico City, wowed the crowds with a performance of the ancient Aztec fire dance Aug. 19, 2012 at the Chief Seattle Days pow wow, at the Suquamish Nation’s Port Madison Reservation. Joanna Salinas said Tloke Nahuake, which means “Together United” in Nahuatl, travels extensively to share traditional dances that have been passed down from generation to generation in the Salinas family.

The Payment: A Poem in Honor of Cinco de Mayo


Richard Walker, Mexican/Yaqui, is a newspaper editor in Kitsap County, Washington, and is a correspondent for Indian Country Today Media Network. His poem "The Payment" pays tribute to Indigenous culture, heritage and pride in current day Mexico and commemorates Cinco de Mayo, which observes the Mexican army's victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

The Payment

To those conquistadors
who came here and tried
to replace our culture
with their own:

This is what the world
shall know about you.

You were nothing but unwelcome
visitors here,

your names and language
were left here
like forgotten baggage.

Here’s what we have done:

We have kept your names
and language as payment
for the destruction you left

for lives lost,

for rape and enslavement,

for your gold lust.

No one will say now that
we are Hispanic or

We are Indigenous People.

The names we carry and
the common language we speak
belong to us and we
are not giving them back.

They belong to the Indigenous now.

Our names are not Spanish
names. They are Mexican names.

The new language we speak
is not the Spanish language.
It is a Mexican language.

You did not erase our
Indigenous identities.
We still dance the fire dance.
We still dance the deer dance.
We remember and honor our ancestors.

You are gone, but
we are still here.

When people hear our names
and when people hear us speak,
they will say,

“Ah, there is one who carries
the blood,
A child of The Survivors.”

Our People live on.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Beautiful poem and I'm happy to hear Mexicans including Natives in their celebrations. Being Apache, I know of the frictions between the Apache and the Mexicans, but being a "half-breed" only makes it more difficult. Either way, Happy Cinco de Mayo.

rockymissouri's picture
Submitted by rockymissouri on