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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Huehuetlatohli of Frank T. Gutierrez

The Huehuetlatohli of Frank T. Gutierrez
Feb 16, 1930-June 5, 2012
By Roberto Dr Cintli Rodriguez

The book of Chilam Balam reminds us that

Everyone has their day

Everyone has their time

And everyone has their place

Perchance is this the moment that the Chilam Balam speaks of?

It must be…

for this is the moment

that his family, friends

and neighbors are gathering.

Yet, had we not gathered many times before?

Even before the days, even before the times

of the 4 directions?

To the east, to the west, to the north and to the south

But also

to the skies above, to the cosmos,

and below, to our sacred mother Earth,

and to the center, where our hearts reside

Before the 4 directions,

before the 7 directions,

you were part of the Movimiento

The Movimiento Chicano.

And before the 4 directions,

there was also Anahuac

Something about Anahuac

always called you home;

it was the sacred stones

the stones that still speak to us till this day.

I never accompanied you to the

sacred cities of the South;

those cities aligned with the skies,

those cities aligned with the cosmos.

But that's how I first heard of you.

Before others, you knew the sacredness of those stones

Those monolithic stones that still speak to us till this day.

And then, indeed the 4 directions came to us,

after The Longest Walk

The 4 Directions

came to our center, to our part of the world,

and you connected and we connected

with all the directions.

You made that special connection

with our Hopi relatives of the North,

especially with Hopi elder, Thomas Banyacya,

the ambassador of peace to the world.

You came to know that connection,

you came to understand that connection,

long before many of us

understood it,

a connection between the North and the South,

that to this day

eludes mainstream society.

The less they know, the better.

Later, years later you/we fought

because of the sacredness of Big Mountain

and for its sacred integrity.

We fought because of the assaults

against the peoples of that mountain,

who knew no borders,

who know no borders.

Again, long before others,

you understood the sacredness of the land

and you too recognized no borders.

Frank, Paco:

Your life is a history book,

an Amoxtli

but also a ceremony.

You lived your life as both a story

and a ceremonia.

Just as you knew and understood the importance of running,

and just as the Aztlan Run was ahead of its time,

so too the East LA Pow Wow.

To East LA, you brought the Raramuri (Tarahumara),

the world’s greatest distance runners.

And with the Pow Wow’s,

akin to the Peace and Dignity Journeys, 

you connected the North and South,

part of fulfilling the prophecy of the eagle and the condor.

Your life, Huehue Frank

Elder Frank,

indeed was a ceremonia.

You had knowledge,

you had memory-memoria.

Many remember you

as a counselor at East LA College.

Others remember you

as one of the first

Chicano Studies professors in the nation.

I wish to remember you as both,

a friend and fellow warrior.

Yet you were more than that;

Mentor is not the apt description.

You were both Temixtiani and Tlamintini

A great maestro

and absolutely, a wise elder.

“We’re in the middle of the biggest reservation

in the United States,” you once told me,

while pointing across the Eastside landscape.

How many times did I hear others repeat that,

who first heard that from you,

who first saw you point to our ELA urban reservation

of over 100,000.

Never a city, and never a part of LA.,

patrolled and governed by the East LA Sheriff's.

Or did you mean,

or did you also include

the additional one million on the east side of LA?

Don't know that the boundaries matter

because when you pointed,

I knew you were pointing

at the sea of red and brown faces

all around us in our midst.

Huehue Frank

You knew

You understood

You guided

Like a true elder,

you had wisdom.

You instructed


and you guided hundreds-thousands,

including me.

How can I ever forget

that you passed a little piece of paper to me,

that you once passed that same little paper to others.

With that same little paper,

you sent me and my compañera

on a very special journey,

on a decade-long project.

At that time you told me:

“I not only know we come from here,

But I can prove it.”

Funny thing, is you told me we didn't need proof, 

but you had it for those that doubted.

That little piece of paper

was a section of the 1847 Disturnell Map,

the map attached to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,

the treaty that ended the war of aggression against Mexico in 1848.

The section of that map read:

“Antigua Residencia de los Aztecas.”

That led us to find more than 200  similar maps,

from the 1500s to the 1800s,

all made the same or similar reference, 

tracking a southward migration.

The Four Corners region is where the first map pointed:

Salt Lake, the others.

And so I went there,

We went there.

And on that journey,

we met many other elders

and they too pointed

and they told us:

“If you want to know who you are,

If you want to find your roots,

follow not the maps,

instead, follow the corn,

follow the maiz.

And sure enough,

that journey took us, took our community

to the south, to the north, to the east and to the west.

Most of all it took us to our heart.

As you know, it is what resulted in the documentary:

Amoxtli San Ce Tojuan

Nosotros Somos Uno

We are One.

It is you, Huehue Frank,

and a few other elders,

that sent our community on this most special journey.

What you taught us Frank,

is that indeed, we don't need proof

to tell us who we are

or where we come from.

And yet we know the truth exists for those that doubt…

That truth is inside of us

because truly,

Somos macehuales,

We are people of the corn,

People of the maiz.

Maiz is where we come from,

what we are made of.

It is our sacred sustenance;

it is who we are.

It is what tells us,

it is what affirms

that we have always been here,

that we belong.

Huehue Frank

Tlazocamati huel miac

Muchas gracias

Thank you very much

For those teachings,

For those guidances.

If ever there is to be a book about you

about your life and your teachings,

It should be called:

The Chilam Balam of East LA

for you have influenced not just a generation

but six more generations to come

Huehue Frank



June 10, 2012

* When Peace & Dignity comes through Southern California later this year, a portion of it will be dedicated in his honor.

Dr Cintli:


  1. beautiful, thank you for sharing this ceremony

  2. great tribute... in it, a great story of a life touching so many... east la pow wow, disturnell map to Aztlan, Aztlan track club (I've run two Aztlan 10k's and hope to run more)... didn't know him personally, but I know his work, better now than before... tlazos Cintli!


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