• June 21st, 2024
  • Friday, 09:24:46 PM

Cuentos De Mi Chante Chicano: Pachuco, Cholo y Chundos

Photo: Daniel Stange Daniel Stange


Daniel Stange

Yo soy Chicano. A veces Vato Loco, but seldom, hijo de la chingada.

Igrew up without understanding or speaking Spanish. My abuela was

raised in Trinidad, Colorado and told me that back in the 1920’s the nuns would punish her for speaking Spanish, so she never taught her children.

She would not even dare to learn Native Tewa or Apache words like Genizaro. She would tell my Tíos, “We are Spanish Americans, NOT Indians.” Although some people would look at her and say: “Sorry, Señora, you don’t look Spanish.” Then she might yell back at them; “I’m Mexican, so what!? We have Spanish blood.” And I did discover that my Mother had about a quarter of Spanish DNA when I sent my sample in for genetic testing. She also has 20% African ancestry.

The double challenge that Chicanos faced has two historic occurrences.

There are native people from California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and

Southwest pueblos along the Rio Grande river that begins in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, runs across New México and now divides the state of Texas from México. The people of these nations were subject to Spanish colonization and then after the Mexican American war ended in 1848, they again became oppressed by the Anglos of English speaking culture. So, their resilience has been a double conflict and the descendants span the spectrum of complete assimilation to defiant revolutionaries.

We are seldom referenced in the slave history of América, but it has been documented that “Indian” babies were being sold in New México up until 1952. Now, this practice is condoned through Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) by locking up children and reportedly hundreds of them are still missing from the administration archives. Most Native men from Anahuac that were captured during these conquest years and sold into slavery had to be shipped away to the Caribbean islands or other continents because they would easily escape in their homeland. Many of those who remained, also could blend into the American labor forces and agriculture fields where they retained their ancestral connection to the earth. They became López, Luján’s and García’s or Archuleta’s. Their grandmothers held on to some old Mexican culture and Catholic curanderismo practices and they never forgot that they are not immigrants.


Our distinct identity has manifested in a variety of characteristics and

unfortunately, many of the “stereotypes” of Chicanos were negatively

portrayed in American media. The term Pachuco is becoming less well

known today, but was popularized because El Paso, Texas was nicknamed ‘Chuco’ and when Chicanos in California went there, often to pick up marijuana, they would say; “Vamos Pa Chuco.” The zoot suits style and swing dance era gave Pachucos their distinction with artists like Lalo Guerrero. The phrase gave an easy transition when a subculture of our gente began calling ourselves Cholos, which was connected to the dog, Xolotl-Ixquintli, and brought us closer to today’s Azteco-Mexica terms.

We endure a division among our own people through the Spanish-English restrictions that modern education and the Anglo/U.S. imposed border. They are cultural tensions that pit us against one

another. Mexicans called us pochos, and we called them mojados. We practice internalized racism when we say that we only talk trash about our own people. In México, they long ago developed a

poor self-image when they blended Spanish and Nahuatl words. They created a word that too many of us Chicanos was the first “bad” word in Spanish that we knew; chingar. “Vamos a la

chingada” was a phrase used when men went off to get drunk, using alcohol to cope with our historical traumas. So today many Spanish dictionaries think it means “to get drunk” but Mexicans and Chicanos know the terminology is not so restricted. Because we are all Chingon! And we are not talking about booze when we say Chinga Tu Madre!

After reading Octavio Paz’s book Labyrinth of Solitude, he detailed the

Pachuco subculture and made a reference to the origin of the word

chingar that he says may have come from Xinachtli – meaning a seed that grows a flower. When the Spanish invaders raped women of Anahuac, their offspring were not accepted as legitimate children to the Europeans.

Often their mothers were killed, and many would not raise a child born of violence and for a hundred years the Meztizos were torn between two worlds. One, of their Mothers’ that was slowly being buried beneath

temples and the abusive fathers that didn’t want them. So, they did much

of the labor and stonework sculpting churches and transforming the

Nahuatl landscape, yet they still had access to their wise elder women and men of Anahuac. They complained of their station and the elders would tell them, “you are Piltzin inic Xinachtli”, children of the seed of both cultures, from each side of the world. The flowering of humanity! Hijo de la Xinachtli.

And they responded: “Hijo de Xi-Nada!” Yo no tengo nada, ni madre, ni padre me quiere. So, Xi-nada became chingada. And hijos de la chingada, meant something like: “Bastard children of the bitch that forsakes us.”


During the same time the religion was indoctrinating the people into stories of the Garden of Eden. All the sins of the world blamed on Eve because she was “tempted by the snake.” Paradise lost, and their national identity remembered the arrival of Cortez and the conquest of Tenochtitlan. Cortez was accompanied by a young woman named Malintzin. She told him the secrets of how to defeat the Aztec empire. She became a traitor symbol and her name converted to Malinche. She is the chingada madre who we despise and at the same time, we are her loving children; born into conflict and condemned by our beliefs. “Por mi culpa, por mi culpa, por mi grande culpa.” We drown our afflictions in tequila and songs of “Volver, Volver.”

We can no longer look into the mirror of another’s eyes and forget that we are familia. One human family.


But we can remember the original words of our abuelitos of Anahuc that

had been telling us: “You are the children of the Xinachtli” – the seed that brings about the flowering of humanity. Our Meztizaje is the culmination of all the cultures of the world – La Raza Cósmica!


We are the strength of this land. We work the farms and run the factories and fix the machines and invent the new ideas that make América great. We fought the battles and stand guard on the walls that divide us from ourselves. We can no longer look into the mirror of another’s eyes and forget that we are Familia. One human family.


We plant the seeds into the soils where our ancestors are laid to rest. The ancestors respond by pushing the plant up into the world to produce the flowers and the fruits of our labors. When we eat the food that we plant with our own hands, we complete the cycle of connecting with our ancestors. By connecting with our ancestors, we return to the sacred and can change the self-talk to no longer hinder our paths. Give ourselves new titles like Tolteca – “Those who practice the art of living in harmony.”

Toltecayotl is the mastery of art in its multiple forms. Next week, I want to discuss Mitotiliztli – Dance. The wisdom of our culture is encoded into the traditions of México, the Southwest and all throughout Anahuac. Ometeotl.


Daniel Stange is the Grant Manager with Sisters of Color United for Education in Denver, Colorado. Read the fourth edition of Cuentos De Mi Chante Chicano here.


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