Attend any movement, demonstration, or justice efforts in or around Los Gatos, and you’re likely to see or hear from Alicia — who asked not to disclose her last name for privacy reasons — a member of the Los Gatos Anti-Racism Coalition (LGARC), an Indigenous rights activist, and an artist of all trades.
Alicia is Yaqui, and originally from Redondo Beach, CA. Her tribe’s history begins in Sonora, Mexico, but over time a number of conflicts forced much of the native population to “get up and go;” Alicia’s family then moved to the Hawthorne, CA, area. The Yaqui Reservation encompasses part of southern Arizona. She related the difficulty in learning her family’s history to her journey in learning the Yaqui language — a connection she hoped to maintain to her heritage. Alicia “heard bits of [the Yaqui language] throughout [her] life,” but never had access to the resources necessary to learn it.
“It’s not like other languages where you can get a book or you can take a course…it’s a very particular language,” she clarified. Having recently gained access to a 12-person Zoom class teaching Yaqui, Alicia summarized the language-learning process in one word: amazing.
Though her tribe is not local to the Bay Area, Alicia noted that she’s become “more knowledgeable about different issues within the Indigenous community here…I try to offer support there.” She described the process as “continuous” in nature, asking herself, “Where can I help?” in each problem she encounters.
As one of the LGARC’s founding members — though she describes herself as a “quiet member” now — Alicia became frustrated with the town’s general “lack of participation.” She continued, explaining that she “felt like people in the community were happy and glad that I was willing to say the things that they quietly thought…but when it came to being the front person, that people who opposed [us] could see, I didn’t feel supported.” She stressed the precariousness of her position as a minority in front of a movement, expressing frequent fear over her safety: “To be honest, if anything happened to me at this point, I don’t think anybody would really be surprised.”
Alicia added she wished more bystanders would “recognize that this is something that really needs attention and is rapidly getting worse, and that [they] need to get in front of it.” To non-Indigenous members of the community, she emphasized that “because [Indigenous hate] doesn’t involve them or because it doesn’t hurt them, it wasn’t as urgent;” thus, they could become involved “at their convenience, where people of color who live in this town conveniently receive racism every day.”
Alicia further described nine different experiences with discrimination and racism in Los Gatos, which she noted added to the physical isolation of being one of the only Indigenous people living in the area.“After walking around and receiving some racist behavior [soon after I moved to Los Gatos], I decided to look up the demographics of the town, and [Indigenous] was a tiny, tiny sliver of the town,” she divulged. “It was 0.07 percent. And I was like, is that me? Am I the only one?” Though she noted her isolation, Alicia emphasized that students and community members retain the ability to foster change: the first move, she says, is to “learn whose land you’re on.” Then, she asks people to “reach out to tribal members that are still attempting to have sacred land respected”
“Give effort,” Alicia urged. “Go do something for the planet, for your fellow man. Help.”
Alicia highlighted several Indigenous Instagram accounts for community members to engage with: @last.real.indians, @sogoreatelandtrust, @savetheshellmounds, @intertribalfriendshiphouse, and her own account, @cinemastereo.