Ce Tempoxcalli, a non-profit organization working towards cultural development and environmentalism in the Latino community will host the sixth annual Chalchiutlicue Environmental Project Summit and Ceremony on the weekend of May 21-23. The summit will take place Friday at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center/Neighborhood House in St. Paul, with a ceremony and feast on Saturday at Powderhorn Park and a fiesta and feast on Sunday at Fort Snelling State Park.
Chalchiutlicue is a Nahuatl word used by the Aztecs of central Mexico to describe the fresh water that rests inside and on the surface of the earth. Nahuatl is spoken by the Aztec people of central Mexico.
The Chalchiutlicue Environmental Project was created to address the historic lack of inclusion of the Latino and Indigenous communities with regard to water management decisions and environmental policy. The project, with the help of a grant from Community POWER has trained Latino youth in community outreach programs designed to increase environmental activism and awareness in Latino and indigenous communities in the Twin Cities. Part of this involves re-connecting with indigenous roots, such as the celebration of Aztec dancing, clothing and music.
What started out as a traditional Aztec ceremony honoring the water has blossomed into an event that has doubled in size every year since its inception in 2005, says Tara Chadwick, a coordinating committee member of the Chalchiutlicue Environmental Project. Tara said that part of the mission of the project is to increase the availability of bilingual environmental information provided to the public. Through grants from Community POWER, as well as dialogue with county governments, they were able to get help at facilitating multilingual information brochures pertaining to environmental awareness.
In addition to increasing bilingual resources, the project also aims to reach out to urban communities that have traditionally been left out of environmental causes. Jerry Lopez, who learned traditional Aztec dancing while in college in the 1990s, is the co-coordinator of the event. He said that the environmental summit provides a chance for urban youth and adults to present and discuss findings on a range of environmental topics such as water privatization, recycling and waste and toxicity reduction.
“Communities of color and urban communities have not been historically connected to environmental justice movements,” said Lopez. “There is a growing trend of many schools becoming environmental magnet schools; we are seeing a growing interest for these schools to present.”
Twenty inner city schools in the metro area will present their findings at the conference as a result of a partnership formed between Eco Education and the Chalchiutlicue Environmental Project. Eco Education is a non-profit organization based in St. Paul that provides environmental education and addresses environmental concerns of urban students. Through service learning projects, students learn about environmental topics that affect their communities.
The summit will take place on Friday, May 21 at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center, 179 Robie Street in St. Paul from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.. All are welcome and are encouraged to register for the summit at the project’s website. A march for water will convene at the American Indian Center in Minneapolis (1530 E. Franklin Ave) at 11 a.m. on Saturday and proceed to Powderhorn Park where a ceremony and feast will take place. On Sunday, the three day event will close with a fiesta at Fort Snelling State Park. Vendors and Environmental Organizations are encouraged to participate with the requirement that bilingual information be provided.