jueves, abril 13, 2006

Immigation policies of tlahtoani Techotlalla

During our Precuauhtemic history, wrongfully called Prehispanic, our indigenous ancestors were open to immigrants and movement of people through their nations. It is European law and Eurocentric philosophies that made us xenophobic and intolerant against immigrants, weather they are workers or political refugees. There are many examples in the history of our Anahuac nations that had an open-door policy for such immigrants. But one I would like to highlight and put up in a pedestal as an example for us, his descendants, to follow is the life of Techotlalla.

Techotlalla was tlahtoani of Acolhuacan (acolhua tecuhtli) since the beginning of the XIV century. He lived in Tetzcoco (today Texcoco, Estado de Mexico), the city his father, Quinatzin, oficially established as the capital. His wife, Tozquentzin, daughter of Acolmiztl, ruler of Coatlinchan. He is the father of Ixtlilxochitl Ometochtli, and hence, the grandfather of famous Netzahualcoyotl.

Techotlalla helped not only refugees to migrate into his country, but helped them migrate in an orderly and pacific way. He also recieved waves from the last Tolteca and Mexica to arrive into the valley, which he let them live with their own cultural and religious beliefs.

_-_-_- The Hñahñu immigrants -_-_-_

Known in nahuatl as Otomi, the Hñahñu in the Central Valley had a powerful nation called Xaltocan. After the death of their ruler Paintzin, Tzompantecuhtli was elected. Just after he arrived into power, Tezozomoc, tlahtoani of Atzcapotzalco, created a war plan to oust Tzompantecuhtli and ocupy the island. Tezozomoc argued that Tzompantecuhtli did not governed properly, so Xaltocan needed Tecpaneca protection. The Mexica and Tlatelolca armies were mustered along with the Tecpaneca, and went into battle. The war began from Tepotzotlan and Cuauhtitlan, after conquering both cities the unified army crossed Xaltocan Lake in order to reach the Hñahñu island. They arrived to island, burning the city. The Hñahñu people heroically fought the invaders. While the battle continued, huge groups of women, children, the old and the ill went to the northeast, out of Tezozomoc's reach. Those refugees increased as Xaltocan fell completely to Atzcapotzalco. During all that time, Techotlalla knew about the war, because he was actually invited by Tezozomoc to participate. What he did was that he mustered all his Acolhua army along his boundary facing Xaltocan. From there Techotlalla witnessed the war. But he noticed an enormous group of people marching along his border. Since they were far, he thought they were soldiers. He was alert because Tezozomoc could take advantage of the situation and continue invading towards Acolhuacan, or Xaltocan soldiers could also be causing havoc among villages. So with his army behind him, he followed those persons until reaching Tezontepec (today Tezontepec, Hidalgo). There he discovered they were not soldiers, but women, children and other poor citizens running aways from war. He felt sympathy for them, since they were looking for a place to live around that region. So he decided to escort them into his country, welcoming them, eventhough they were not Acolhua but Hñahñu.

He needed to have an orderly situation for such numbers of immigrants, and a place where they could be their own. So Techotlalla gathered them at a place, creating for them a city called Otompan (today Otumba, Estado de Mexico). The city prospered and actually became important within Acolhua politics. With time that city will not only became important during the Conquest Holocaust, but also during the Mexican Independence.

After Tezozomoc established his government, and declared himself ruler of Xaltocan island, the Hñahñu felt opressed and subjugated. So a series of Hñahñu waves entered again Acolhuacan after the war. Techotlalla, without thinking twice, welcomed the political refugees. He immediately established lands where those Hñahñu could live and work, giving birth to two new cities, Yahualiuhcan and Mazapan. They were not concentration camps or reservations, because they were free to travel, but Techotlalla rather encouraged immigrants to live in unpopulated and rich soil that could be worked. Or else, if Techotlalla's government would have no controls, or ignored them, they would be wandering around cities and mountains, with no legal status. Sounds familiar?

_-_-_- The Tolteca and Mexica immigrants -_-_-_

After the fall of Tollan (today Tula, Hidalgo), the Tolteca capital, people migrated into all the known world. They traveled to the Mixtecas, Chichen Itza, and such. But some returned to the Valley. This was the case, when the last of the Tolteca returned to Acolhuacan. They were actually not from Tula but from Colhuacan (Iztapalapa, Distrito Federal), so they were called also Colhuas. At the same time, the last Mexica that stayed in Michoacan also entered into Acolhuacan. These groups entered and ask the government permission for a place to live. Techotlalla, again, granted all legal rights to these new immigrants. Since they were smaller groups, he divided them into calpultin (barrios/clans). around cities such as Tetzcoco. As time passed those barrios grew in size, becoming part of the capital.

These waves of Tolteca and Mexica immigrants rose issues about their culture and beliefs. Some Acolhua people wondered if these new immigrants should be permitted to publicly worship Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. A national debate rose, a spinny one. Some defended the immigrants, other attacked them, and even some actually joined the new religious wave. Techotlalla left the debate continue for some time, but then he went in favor of the immigrants. Once the tlahtoani legally recognized their right, immigrants from those barrios immediately built temples for Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. It was said that even Techotlalla was interested in the new beliefs, and help propagate their ideals. He also promoted their language, Nahuatl. Acolhua people did not spoke Nahuatl, some spoke a Hñahñu language, others a not identified language dubbed as Chichimec. Techotlalla hired linguist scholars from Mexico Tlatelolco and Mexico Tenochtitlan to teach at Acolhua schools the Nahuatl language. Techotlalla was so interested in propagating the Nahuatl language, like Tezozomoc, that not only he learned it from his lady Papaloxochitl, but he hired a personal nanny to teach Nahuatl to his son Ixtlilxochitl. We can see how tolerant was Techotlalla when referring to the culture and ideals these groups had with them. Today, immigrants are welcomed in many countries only if they assimilate, otherwise they would be seen as a danger to their values and language. Sounds familiar?

What should we learn from our ancestor Techotlalla?That immigration problems did not exist in Precuauhtemic times. That the tolerance of our ancestors led to a prosperous society.

Should only the descendants of Techotlalla learn something from him?

No. Also White, Black, or Yellow people. Everyone can learn from Techotlalla ideals. Especially in these world were migration continues more than ever. How can we survive in this globalized world without looking at our past?