About Santiago Andres Garcia

Colored pencil drawing by Enrique “Coco” Zaragoza

Welcome everyone, my name is Santiago Andrés Garcia. I’m a trained anthropologist and educator at Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier, California, where I teach Mexican culture, humanities, and anthropology in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Among other teaching spaces, one can also find me at Cerritos College where I teach courses on the Native Peoples of North America, Ancient Civilizations of the America’s (from Olmec to Aztec), and a lab in Physical Anthropology.

My purpose in life is to educate and inspire youth and their families in an effort to help them achieve their personal and educational goals. I do this by modeling certain skills and attitudes, explaining a diversity of lenses by which to see the world, and sharing knowledge that was passed-on down to me. As a researcher, I am adamant on revitalizing and preserving ancestral knowledge systems, and as a social scientist, I strive to imagine and build sustainable living practices in the areas of health, food, and family.

I firmly believe that the biggest questions of the day are those that deal with the human body and its relationship to the land. How did we evolve alongside plants and animals? What role did the Earth’s natural resources play in our growth as complex human beings? How did humans survive in times of severe stress when unfavorable conditions dominated the night and day? What Native medicines have humans harnessed over time, and how did the body heal?

About My Schooling and Training In 2011, I completed my training in the four-fields of Anthropology at Cal State Fullerton under the supervision of Olmec archaeologist Dr. Carl J. Wendt. At CSUF my research looked at Early Formative (1250–900 B.C.) Mesoamerican inter-regional interaction between the Olmec of the Southern Gulf Lowlands of Mexico and their neighbors outside the Gulf Coast. My graduate thesis research “Early Representations of Mesoamerica’s Feathered Serpent: Power, Identity, and the Spread of a Cult” examined how Avian-Serpent imagery carved on pottery and depicted on other forms of media was used by Early Formative people in burials and in households. In the final chapter, I surmise that people, groups, and some elite Olmec utilized Avian-Serpent imagery to support their status and to reinforce their identities. I further supported an earlier cult model (See Jeffrey P. Blomster 1998, 2010) by arguing that Avian-Serpent imagery may have been spread by members of a regional cult who were bent on spreading religion and cosmology.

To this day, I remain, interested in the daily behaviors and activities that occur when people and groups move from one region to another. My past and current inquires dive into the diverse social mechanisms i.e., trade, influence, migration, ritual and ceremony, that ignite the spread of ideas, goods, wealth, and health. To arrive at a better understanding of these behaviors, I rely on the interpretation of human artifacts, models of inter-regional interaction, and my own gaze as an Indigenous Xicano Educator. Moreover, as an anthropologist, I was trained to see the human experience through multiple theoretical lenses, and to make use of multiple methods of inquiry to collect as much data as possible. These skills have allowed me to engage the classrooms I work in as archaeological field-sites, where every student represents a body of crucial information capable of being excavated. I do so in a good way to better serve and understand students, help solve issues of the day, and address contemporary problems.