Concha Saucedo Martinez at ceremony in Oakland, California. Photo Christopher Burquez
Published August 31, 2015
OAKLAND – Members of the American Indian and Mexican American community, along with others, gathered in Oakland, California, yesterday, Sunday, August 31, 2015 to commemorate the historic Chicano Moratorium in 1970 against the Vietnam War.
At the Chicano Moratorium held in Los Angeles, four people, two by the police, were killed and some 150 people were arrested on that dreadful day on August 29, 1970.
Yesterday’s gathering started with a sunrise ceremony with prayers and smudging with copal, and sage. Prayer was led by elder Concha Saucedo Martinez (Yaqui).
Martinez, 81, described the reason for the ceremony with these words:
“I’m here today, on this sunrise and on these festivities to honor the people who stood up for peace in 1970. We are remembering the people who stood up for peace among Chicano and Mexican people.
This was one of the first time that so many people gathered together and in that process two people were killed by the police and other people were badly hurt.
But it was important that in our community we said the Vietnamese are not doing anything to us, they are our brothers and sisters, so we refuse to participate in this (the war).
The 36th annual Xicana (Chicana) Moretorium Day
A number of years ago, in 1980, we all decided that we needed to do something to remember them (the people who were killed and hurt). Not only have a gathering and do political talks, but have a time to pray together, to light the fire, to make an offering to remember what our roots really are, you know, our Indian roots-to make the place safe. So that no matter what goes on, there won’t be any violence today because some prayers have been left here.
Those prayers will touch everybody. That is my belief that the prayers, the words that we use is an energy that comes from the deepest part of ourselves and that can help or hinder people. So if you say kind words, say loving words, it will reach somebody and that is what we need to do world wide. Not only amongst ourselves, but with all kinds of people.
In a circle, everybody has a place, thats why we are in a circle, because you are not more or less. You may be different. I am different, because I am the oldest; and the babies are different, because they are the youngest–and everybody in between.
That’s why I love circles, because everybody has their place and your place is in it.”
After the ceremony a festival began with Aztec Dancing by groups from Santa Rosa, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose.
36TH ANNUAL XICANA (CHICANA) MORATORIUM DAY in Oakland, California. Photos by Christopher Burquez