Honoring Native Americans

Sharon Lau
Staff Writer

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Michael Heralda, who heads the cultural program Aztec Stories, brought his program to the Campus Center Ballroom Monday.

About 40 ULV students and faculty attended the event featuring music, storytelling and more. Heralda displayed 35 handmade instruments – from flutes and drums to more unusual instruments, including an ancient Aztec skull-shaped whistle that made a swooshing sound.

He talked about the energies we are given at birth, including touch, breath, and emotion. Upon death our energy is released from the body, he said.

“Everything is energy and vibration moving and spinning through time and space,” Heralda said.

His wife, Sandy Heralda, played gourd drums, while another performer shook a rattle, and audience members were invited to try the instruments.

Heralda explained that the flutes use all four elements: clay from the earth, water to soften and shape, fire to bake it, and wind, or the breath of the musician playing it.

“I think the creation stories were awesome, and I enjoyed it because I am part Native American,” senior music major Julian Johnson said. “My great grandmother was a shaman.”

Some laughed as Heralda pulled out a conch larger than his face, which made a loud, deep sound.

“The conch represents life and all the souls that ever lived. If you cut it in half it shows the spiraling nature of the universe,” Heralda said.

“A lot of folks think that Native Americans are a thing of the past,” said Daniel Loera, multicultural affairs director. “People don’t concede that they are still a living and vibrant community. For me it’s about relearning and recapturing … and connecting to a whole lost community.”

A recurring theme of the night was the word Xóchitl, which represents perfection and translates to flower.

Heralda said that people start out as seeds and we slowly discover who we are as we maneuver through the physical world using our body as a shell. As we discover our talents we should nurture them. he said.

At the end of the event, Heralda shared with the audience that the four characteristics essential for personal growth and development are patience, awareness, endurance and compassion.

“I loved the songs, whistles and beautiful music,” sophomore sociology major Jazmine Marquez said.

For more about Heralda’s work, visit aztecstories.com.

Sharon Lau can be reached at sharon.lau@laverne.edu.

Sharon Lau
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