When I am not in the classroom with students, I’m working with an abundant of materials in the Mesoamerican craft tradition. Both ancient and modern. Wood, clay, stone, and feathers are among my favorite and mostly used. I have been working with building materials my entire life. Since I was a small child I can remember the smell of freshly cut lumber and the screeching sound of skill saws. I learned alongside my father, who learned from his father, and older siblings. I am familiar with all phases of new residential construction, the tools of the trade, and building codes.
Recently I began working with obsidian, manufacturing prismatic blades useful in the cutting of the infant placenta and umbilical cord. The practice borders the artistic, the spiritual, and the medical. In my most recent publication, co-authored with my wife, we dive into the therapeutic benefits of obsidian mirror use, and critical self-reflection in the context of family medicine, health, and birth practice. I don’t profit from the things I make with my hands, or the medicine I procure, but rather I sustain my practice by encouraging reciprocity, gift-giving, and the exchange of resources.
As an Indigenous Anthropologist, I am fascinated by the material medicine and tool science of Mesoamerica. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have been using their hands to procure food, build shelter, make tools, make love, defend themselves, and get well from sickness and disease. This practice was sustained by Mesoamerica’s rich natural resources, easy access to materials, plant, and animal diversity. The interregional interaction between people and groups was key. Trade, exchange, the pilgrimage, cosmic navigation and guidance, ritual and ceremony kept people hungry for life, and constantly evolving. These represent major cultural and biological characteristics that make us native to a particular area. I embrace these, practice them, refine them, rear my family with them, and teach my students about them.
Whether it’s through my teaching or family household practice, the sharing and co-creation of ancestral knowledge is at the center of who I am. I am of the belief that humanistic knowledge must be co-created, shared, and cultivated for a greater good. This intellectual thought and practice is most crucial to the lives and lineages of people historically segregated in the United States. Indigenous people’s of the Americas, and peoples of African ancestry, in all their diverse forms of being, and unwantedness, stand best to benefit from the project of reclaiming, sustaining, and sharing their ancestral wisdoms.
In this part of the website, I share my autoethnography “unfolding” through a series of self made short films and photo project(s). The films crisscross the familial, medical, educational, ritual, and ceremonial aspects of my own life. The photo projects (resting behind the scenes and not public) highlight the oldest and most esoteric aspects of my life. Both of these autoethnographies give insight into my inspiration to not separate my family, teaching, and research endeavors, as they breath the same air. By being one they grow rich, peaceful, wise, and Native to who I am.