Both of Victor Villaseñor’s grandmothers were Indigenous American Natives
Biography of Victor Villaseñor
Born in the barrio of Carlsbad, California in 1940, Victor Villaseñor was raised on a ranch four miles north in Oceanside. Since his parents were born in Mexico, Villaseñor spoke only Spanish when he started school. After years of facing language and cultural barriers, heavy discrimination and a reading problem, later diagnosed as dyslexia, Victor dropped out of high school his junior year and moved to Mexico. There he discovered a wealth of Mexican art, literature, music, that helped him recapture and understand the dignity and richness of his heritage.
Victor returned to the U.S. at the age of 20. He began to feel the old frustration and anger return as he once again witnessed the disregard toward poor and uneducated people and especially toward the Mexicans. Then a chance encounter with James Joyce’s Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Man, changed Victor’s life. It awakened a desire to confront through literature the problems associated with his cultural heritage that continued to plague him.
After producing 9 novels, 65 short stories, and receiving 265 rejections, Villaseñor sold his first novel, Macho!, which the Los Angeles Times compared to the best of John Steinbeck. This began a journey that would eventually lead to the publication of the national bestseller Rain of Gold. Used by thousands of teachers and school systems across the nation as required reading, Rain of Gold tells the story of Victor’s family, taking the reader from war-torn Mexico during the Revolution of 1910 to the present day.
Villaseñor’s body of works includes a number of nonfiction books, all used in schools throughout the country: The first family trilogy Wild Steps of Heaven, Rain of Gold, and Thirteen Senses; the second family trilogy Burro Genius, Crazy Loco Love, and Beyond Rain of Gold. Other books: Jury: The People vs Juan Corona; Macho!; Lion Eyes. Several titles are national bestsellers and Pulitzer Prize submitted. Walking Stars is a little book of nine short stories written especially to inspire youth. And a collection of award winning children’s books, written for ages 2 to 200, each teach an important life lesson: The Frog and His Friends Save Humanity; Goodnight, Papito Dios; Little Crow to the Rescue; Mother Fox and Mr. Coyote; and The Stranger and the Red Rooster. The screenplay for The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, starring Edward James Olmos, was also written by Victor.
Villaseñor’s acclaimed written works, as well as his inspiring lectures, have earned him numerous awards and endorsements, including the Founding John Steinbeck Chair appointment.
A gifted and accomplished speaker, Victor Villaseñor, in his candid and heartfelt manner, brings a fresh perspective to a number of universal themes, including pride in cultural heritage, the strength of family, dedication to education and personal achievement, the power of the written word, world harmony and peace.
Villaseñor’s commitment to world harmony and peace is demonstrated through Snow Goose Global Thanksgiving, his nonprofit organization established to promote peace and harmony throughout the world. His self-published book, Snow Goose Global Thanksgiving, describes a simple philosophy that it’s time in human story for women and children to start leading, with men ‘following in front’. Villaseñor’s motto has become “We are all one race. The human race!”
Victor Villaseñor continues to live on the ranch where he was raised.
Victor and Dyslexia
Victor Villaseñor first came upon the concept of reading in the second grade. He would read the simple “Jane saw Spot” and he could understand, but as soon as the sentences became more complex, he lost all understanding. Reading the simple order of the days of the week was too great a confusion to his young mind. He would hide or change seats to avoid being called upon to read. He lived in a secret world of terror.
Villaseñor flunked the third grade. He would have also flunked the fourth grade had his father not given some homegrown avocados to the teacher. Victor copied and cheated his way through school.
At the age of twenty he decided he really wanted to learn to read. He would read for 5 minutes and get tremendous headaches. His eyes would hurt and his mind would reel. He would stop and do push-ups, breathe deeply and try again. Sometimes this would work, other times he would almost pass out. He would circle words that he did not understand. He would look each one up in the dictionary and then write the new word down 5 times, “pressing real hard”, so he could “press” the new word into his mind. This went on for years.
In his late twenties, Villaseñor heard about dyslexia. He knew he had the symptoms. He was terrified. He heard it was genetic and he was afraid to ever have children. When he met his wife, he was glad to learn that she could read normally. They had two sons. When the boys began reading, there were some problems. Victor took the opportunity to have both his sons and himself tested for dyslexia. The boys were mildly dyslexic, but Victor was “off the chart”.
What the test revealed was that Victor had severe visual and audio dyslexia. He was told that it was a miracle that he ever learned to read or write. It was a surprise that he could even listen and understand! He learned about dyslexia. He understood how he was different. He finally understood about his childhood reading problems and his unbearable fear at school. He realized that he had a unique reading and hearing disorder and that this was the cause of his failures. It was not that he was stupid.
Victor Villaseñor now considers his dyslexia a “saving grace”. He views it as the means by which he has become an original thinker. He realizes he sees the world differently from other people. He goes deep within himself to unfold the mysteries of life in his own unique way. These observations and discoveries are reflected in his literary works, but are even more revealed and shared with audiences in his speaking engagements.
Both of Victor Villaseñor’s grandmothers were Indigenous American Natives, one from Oaxaca, Mexico and the other originally from Sinaloa, Mexico. Through all his writing, Villaseñor anchors his work to the Sacred Knowledge that he received from his parents about his grandmothers.
Please go to Dolphin Miracle plus your own Key to Living Miracles and you will find indigenous Terms and Concepts that are outside of Western civilization and give you access to the pre-Colombian Native Wisdom of the Americas.
For instance, in pre-Colombian times there was a Red City in Central America where Sacred Native Elders and Healers would come from all over South and North America. For 10 years they would exchange sacred knowledge of this planet and our Six Sister Planets. Then they’d go north and south to share this knowledge for 10 years. These 20 years were called “the living tree of ancient wisdom” and/or our Original Instructions. Parrots accompanied these Keepers of Wisdom, and that’s why, even today, feathers and carcasses of parrots are found in northern Canada. Truly understand, once you learn these native terms and concepts, you will see that Indigenous People the world over weren’t savages, but highly sophisticated people of sustainable knowledge in harmony with nature.
There’s only One Race, the Human Race, once we activate our Original Instructions.
More Articles on Native Americans
The Dakota Native Americans, or the Sioux tribe, once lived in the current state areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota. These states were considered their territory until the United States grabbed their lands. The Dakota Native Americans traveled frequently and also lived in areas of Iowa, Montana, Northern Illinois, Nebraska and parts of Canada. Once the American takeover of their lands came into play, they were conveniently moved to areas in Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Before the United States became heavily involved with them, the Dakota Sioux spoke the Dakota and Lakota languages. They also communicated to other tribes with Native American Sign Language. Their religion included many gods including the Chief God, Wakantanka, as well as other superior, associate, subordinate and even evil gods. The Dakotas sought after supernatural powers to guide them through life. Their personal spiritual helper was called the guardian spirit as it helped a person persevere through difficulties in life.
The Dakota Native Americans had an interesting lifestyle. Men’s roles included hunting and fighting to defend their families. Women took on roles that included cleaning, cooking, and setting up the house after moving. While women owned houses, usually only men were chiefs of the tribes. Men and women were involved with artwork, storytelling, music and the tribe’s medicinal practices. The families lived in teepees that were easily broken down and set up. This allowed the tribes to pack up and move very quickly. They were a nomadic type of tribe.
Traditionally, this group was focused on hunting and farming to obtain their food. Their main crop was corn however, after they were able to get horses they switched their food gathering to mainly hunting. They were able to follow herds on seasonal migrations and ate deer, elk and buffalo. Aside from meat, the Dakotas ate potatoes, fruit and chokecherries they collected.
Much of the life of the Dakota Native Americans included hunting and taking care of their families but they also interacted with other tribes. They frequently traded buffalo meat and hides with the Arikara tribe as well as several other tribes of the Great Plains. But not all of their interactions were friendly as they were at war with the Assiniboine, Kiowa, and Ojibway Native Americans – among others. War was more about proving which war party was more courageous and not too much about gaining lands as they had their own war customs. These included “counting coup.” The aim was to touch an enemy in battle without causing him any harm and to force the enemy to retreat so they could steal enemy horses or weapons.
Their major ongoing battle was with the United States in trying to keep the “white” man out of their territories. This was a battle they would not win. On July 23, 1851, the Treaty of Traverse de Sioux forced them to give the majority of their land to the U.S. Since then, the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 and the removal of almost all the Dakota from their remaining land has only increased the offenses against the Native Americans. In recent years, there has been a push by Dakota communities to purchase their traditional lands; although, success has been limited due to a lack of job opportunities and financial stability for many Dakota Native Americans.
The American Native tribe of the Lipan Apache has a long history that preexists European records. Historically the tribe’s territory was spread out among the present day states of Texas, Colorado and New Mexico in the US and the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas before the beginning of the 17th century. This area stretched from the Colorado River to the Rio Grande.
The Lipan, though mostly confined to Texas, were in contact with several other bands of the Apache. The Limita, the Conerejo and Trementina and the Mescalero were just some of the other bands of Apache that were present. The Lipan, like all Apache, were nomadic in nature and that likely caused intermingling and some misidentification when referring to some bands. Being part of the larger Apache nation, they also spoke the Apache language, making intermingling much easier. As a result, this most probably contributed to the Mescalero and Lipan as being the only bands that survived intact into the 1800’s.
Their name Lipan means “The Light Gray People.” This name observes their journey from the Mckenzie Basin of Canada to the homeland of Texas as they see the Earth suspended by four points of a compass and each direction is associated with a color.
In the 1600s when they first migrated to Texas, they all traveled as one unit. When they got to Texas, the unit split into two large groups. After a century-long war with the Comanches (1700s), they split into further groups or bands – about 10 to 14. Eventually they also came into contact with the Spanish at San Antonio de Bexar.
The main staple of the Lipan, like all Apaches, was the buffalo. They ate the meat and used the hides for clothing, and would grease and tan the hides for tent coverings. Following the herds was why the Apache were nomadic.
The Lipan lived within extended family structures. This allowed for several generations of the same family to live together and cohabitate. The person in charge would lead these family units with most prominence. This person would act as the director and chief advisor for the group. These groups could form loose societies in times of need, such as for conflicts or ceremonies. These larger unions would dissolve once the need was no longer there.
The Lipan are often credited with introducing peyotism, the peyote religion, into Native American culture. The Apaches used the peyote as both a medicinal and ritual object, though the ceremony differs from band to band.
The name Apache may come from the Zuni word apachu, which means enemy. As the Spanish began settling Texas and Northern Mexico, they suffered constant raids from the Lipan and other Apache tribes. Multiple missions and settlements were razed and burned. From roughly 1541 until the late 1600s the Apache were feared as a powerful, aggressive tribe. As the 18th century began, the Apache had made many enemies of their neighbors. That, combined with the Comanche tribe’s migration, most likely drove the Apaches further south and west. Also, the Spaniards continued settlement and began to fight the Apache in earnest. The fighting continued throughout the early 1700s and nearly into the middle of the 18th century. Finally in 1749, the Apache’s buried a hatchet in a peace ceremony in San Antonio. Some of the Lipan’s great leaders were Flacco, Poca Ropa, Cuelgas de Castro, Costalites, and Magoosh.
Today, many of the Lipan tribe reside on Apache reservations in Texas and New Mexico. Some can also be found on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico. The Lipan are a state-recognized tribe and currently have headquarters in Texas.
The Yaqui Native Americans are indigenous people who mostly lived in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. History depicts that Yaqui originated in the valley of the Río Yaqui. Even after centuries, many Yaqui still live in this ancestral valley or their original homeland, but today, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe is predominantly based in Tucson, Arizona. Many Yaqui’s do, however, live throughout California in the USA. With this global society today, they are most likely in other parts of the world as well.
The language spoken by the Yaqui is mostly known as Uto-Aztecan. Many Yaqui speak Cahita which is a dialect belonging to a group of 10 understandable languages. Many people know these people as Yaqui; however, the Yaqui’s call themselves Yoeme or Hiaki.
The first contact between the Yaqui and the Spanish occurred in1533. A line was drawn in the dirt by the Yaqui leader and the Spanish conquistadors were asked not to cross it. Of course the Spanish crossed the line, and the battle began. Although the Spanish army retreated, they continued to claim victory. Thirty years later, after the initial first battle, the Spaniards wanted to establish a Spaniard settlement in Yaqui territory under the direction of Francisco de Ibarra. That attempt failed. It is thought that the lack of silver and gold in this territory was what probably helped the Yaqui’s from being invaded early on by the many Spanish conquistadors that trampled through their lands.
Eventually, in 1610, a peaceful agreement was reached between the Yaqui and the Spanish, which also brought a wave of Jesuit priests who began converting many of the Yaqui to Christianity. The Jesuits, did however, assist the Yaqui by introducing cattle, horses, and wheat to their lands. In addition, the Jesuit priests helped these colonies to stay healthy when epidemic diseases from Europe were destroying many Indigenous populations.
By the 1730s, the Spanish began to trespass more and more into Yaqui lands, and this began to cause unrest and bloody revolts. In 1740, one of the bloodiest revolts occurred as over 5,000 Native Americans were killed and about 1,000 Spanish died. Jesuit Priests, in 1767, were eventually driven from Mexico and replaced by the Franciscan Priests which never captured the confidence or trust of the Yaqui thereafter.
In the early 1800s, Mexico gained their independence from the Spanish and this caused more uncertainty and unrest for the Yaqui Native Americans due to Mexican Politics and the government not being favorable towards them. As far as the Yaqui were concerned, they had traded one aggressor for another – mainly President Porfirio Diaz and his regime.
Under Mexican rule, many brutal missions were conducted to execute and eliminate this native tribe. The church massacre in 1868 was one of those incidents that took the lives of 150 innocent Yaqui Native Americans. As late as 1908, many Yaquis were forced to become slaves. Many of them lost their lives, land, and property during this period. When things started to worsen, many of the Yaqui opted to flee to the states, which included Texas, Arizona, and California. Thus, their way of life, as they had known it, was gone.
Although these skirmishes continued for over 400 years, the Yaqui never gave up. They continued to fight for their culture and lands to protect their way of life. Throughout history they are revered as some of the most willful fighters of their time. Yaqui Native Americans played a very important role in the history of Mexico, the United States, and Spain. At the onset, there were just close to 30,000 in number living on about 80 ranches, but with the coming of Spanish Settlers and the Mexican civil unrest, this radically changed. Unfortunately, the political and religious climate of that time wasn’t in favor of the Yaqui.
Looking back, even their religious beliefs had been altered. In the beginning there was no Christianity in their world and their religion. Their religion was based on a world that included five sub-worlds; this included the dream, the mystical, the flower, the night, and the desert wilderness world. Therefore, most of their rituals were done to perfect each world and to bring peace to humanity. Today, their religion is very intermixed with the Christian teachings as a result of the Jesuit and the Franciscan missionaries who infiltrated their world and changed them forever.