Pyramid-builders. That’s the way Leafar Seyer (aka Rafael Reyes) of the electronic rock duo Prayers describes his people — the Mexican people, or the Mexica — one of the indigenous peoples of the American continent. A brand new Prayers song and video named after them, “Mexica” is embedded above, but watching it only gets you half of the story behind this song.
Seyer, who has been a musician for the last four years, and currently works under the marker Prayers with producer Dave Parley, recently found himself driven to examine his own perception of himself as a Mexican-American. His primary impetus was the racist and derogatory rhetoric about his community that Donald Trump infamously spewed during his campaign as the Republican candidate for president.
“What I’m trying to do is decolonize myself and help my people find value in themselves,” Seyer said. “As Mexicans, we often portray ourselves as ‘just humble people that want to come to this country to work.’ I say no — screw all that. Yes, Mexicans are hard-working people, we are the foundation and the backbone of America. But we’re so much more than that. Our civilization goes back to 3700 BC, we’re older than Egypt, we had our own customs and our own cities.”
Today is October 10, a holiday that’s still traditionally celebrated in many parts of America as Columbus Day, or the day Christopher Columbus landed on this continent. Seyer and others are seeking to further refocus the conversation away from Columbus and celebration of white, European colonialism and imperialism to focus on honoring the indigenous people of this continent.
“The truth of the matter is, people of color are oppressed, and we have been since 1492 when the settlers came to the Western Hemisphere and started raping us and pillaging our land,” Seyer said. “We’re Mexica and we are the indigenous people of this continent. There was no borders before the Europeans came. They came and divided our continent among themselves. Even now we’re still colonized, and our minds are colonized too. It’s to the point that we’ve lost our own identity. I want to decolonize not just the minds of my people, but everyone.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was initially conceived in a UN convention in Geneva in 1977, but since 1992, a movement began in Berkeley, California to use it to replace celebrating Columbus Day. The movement reframes cultural conversation, highlighting the abuse that the native people of America endured when Columbus and other white settlers immigrated here. It also also seeks to celebrate and uplift the indigenous people of this land, affirming their heritage and their legacy that long pre-dates the country of America itself.