Despite their obvious efforts to rid modern American society of its true cultural heritage. We persist mostly because our ancestors left clues in the form of art and through certain lineages stories that have been passed on through each generation. Through art and stories we have learned that the true savages were the European invaders. They came onto our lands to kill, rape and destroy whatever they could. They did all of this as true savages they even tried to erase the earth loving communities that lived on the American continent prior to their arrival. They put our ancestors on reservations or in Christian camps in an attempt to convert their “savage ways.”Today we know the true history of our ancestors. As a result, today we have risen.
“They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Mexican Proverb taken from Greek poet, Dinos Christianopoulos.
From the day that I really started talking with my friend Karol Pabon, owner of BFLY Magazine we clicked. We have a lot in common and our goals seem to be aligned. She has introduced me to a wide variety of personalities and I can’t thank her enough for giving me the opportunity to chat with some of the folks I have had the pleasure to chat with.
I was very excited to chat with William A Rodriguez. He has not forgotten or turned his back on his cultural heritage. Now let’s get into what he is doing to help preserve native indigenous culture.
See: Hi, happy to meet you!
William A Rodriguez: Hey see!!
See: We’re doing these chat sessions to get to know about artist considered to be underground. We want to bring to light the art and magick that you create. I’m thrilled to be chatting to you after going through your website! Looks like you are involved in some very important things.
William A Rodriguez: Yeah, I’ve got my hands in all kinds of stuff. That’s just one business, lol.
See: Okay lets get into it.
William A Rodriguez: Cool.
See: Are you in Georgia?
William A Rodriguez: Yes.
See: Oh wow! I use to drive semi trucks to Georgia. It’s a beautiful state with lots of greenery. I’m just curious how you know Karol?
William A Rodriguez: We connected via Facebook somehow many years ago. I’ve helped her with websites, pdfs, etc. We have similar styles.
See: A digital connection. Nothing wrong with that. I think it’s great that we can meet and make friends with people all over the world. That is the cool thing about the digital age. Friends in far off places but nevertheless, friends.
William A Rodriguez: Yeah. I’ve never met her in person. But she’s awesome! One day I’ll get back out there in Cali. I lived in San Jose years ago.
See: I see on your website that you are involved in making native or Indiginous instruments like flutes and drums right?
William A Rodriguez: Yes! I’m actually a visual artist, and I’ve ran a graphic and web company for almost 20 years, www.wargraphicarts.com. Started archaic roots 3 years ago and built it from scratch. I also partner in another business, www.reciprocitree.com. I have a retreat venue that I live and work from, and I Airbnb via my unique space.
Indigenous instruments and cultural education is how I like to explain it.
Check out www.archaicroots.com.
See: Can you tell us a little more about your background with art? It sounds like that’s what started it all for you. I would love to hear about that.
William A Rodriguez: I’ve been an artist since I was young. Sketching things on every school assignment I remember I started carrying around a book as a teen with poetry and drawings. Someone told me one of them would be good as a t-shirt. So I decided to teach myself how to make shirt graphics. Liked it so much decided to get a BFA in visual communications. I like to learn new medias, so I’m constantly integrating new medias into my toolbox. The mixture of culture and instruments had to do with my other passion, anthropology and my indigenous ancestors. Learning about native spirituality I found myself with a drum, for shamanic journey work, that led me to other instruments. I started having kids and couldn’t afford all the instruments I wanted, so I taught myself to make them. Then I learned to repair them. The repair work led to teaching classes on making instruments. Also, I initially integrated schools and then other groups, sharing my knowledge with kids. Between volunteering for educational presentations, my workshops and working at events, I am pretty busy now.
Whew. That’s was a bit of it. Lol
So the integration of my artistic skills and passion for my ancestral culture led me to this calling.
See: That is quite the journey!
Nowadays there is a bit of a disconnect between people and their ancestors. I know for most of my life I never even thought about mine. Then suddenly I had an injury that completely changed my life. Soon after, I had a profound experience and all kinds of synchronicities started happening all the time to me. Then out of the blue my ancestors were always on my mind. This was about 3 years ago now.
I’m interested in knowing, were you raised to honor your ancestors or did you have some kind of experience that led you back to them?
William A Rodriguez: No, since I was very little they called to me, quite oppositely raised honestly.
The tribal, ancient, old ways always caught my eye. Even today I learn more and more about this strange connection.
See: I know that a lot of people leave their homes and villages. They come to the states and try to change who they are. For example some people change their names into “American” sounding names. I think that is a tragedy. Especially because the children of these people grow up not knowing who they truly are. They grow up with completely different names and no cultural identity. People should be honored of their ancestral lineages.
William A Rodriguez: Yes!!! We should honor them as best we can. It’s western culture that is the culprit in my opinion. Everything must be consumed, even culture, to a point of either running from your own ancestors or polluting other peoples ancestral cultures via mass marketing it to the public.
See: Yes! I completely agree with you.
Are your classes for everyone or strictly for tribal people?
William A Rodriguez: My classes are for non-tribal people. The area I live in is very far right and religious, very restricted in their access to learning about strange cultures. So I used my knowledge in the schools to help share some cultures via instrument presentations, since instruments and culture are interconnected.I also help educate the people who come to my property and make instruments, or the other event I facilitate workshops at. These instrument building workshops are saturated with cultural knowledge, plus my collection of instruments is getting expansive.
See: I wish things were different but maybe conversations like these will remind people to honor the ancestors. After all without them none of us would be here.
The first Amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And yet you say that, the people in your area are “very far right and religious, very restricted in allowing people to learn about their own cultures. This is wrong on so many levels. We have been stripped of our actual culture but when we find it again they still try to keep us from it even though we have the right as American citizens to pursue whatever religions our ancestors observed.
You are doing good work by bringing wisdom to non tribal peoples. I’m starting to see that a lot of European descendants are actually ashamed of how their ancestors treated ours.
William A Rodriguez: I share as much as I can, in an organic way, nothing really set in stone. Each workshop I may share different stories, focus on different cultures, or just focus on specific instruments. It all depends on the group.
See: Can I ask you more about your Indigenous background? Can you tell us a little more about who got you into all of this?
William A Rodriguez: My father is from Cuba. His mother was From Guatemala and was full blood Mayan heritage, his father was a mixture of mainly native ( but he likes to focus on the Spanish side, since natives are looked down on in Cuba). My mother’s side of the family is Irish, Cherokee, Scottish, and Creek, and a few others mixed in…. as a child my maternal grandfather would tell me stories of our native ancestors, and shared herbal and other “traditional” knowledge with me. My father’s family in Cuba was kind of separated, both of his parents died when he was young, but his actions and behaviors are more native. The calling was more internal, I have no tribal card, since most of my native side is mayan and Taino, the Cherokee and creek are so far back and messed up with blood quantum I couldn’t get carded here. So that calling in my soul was contradicted with lack of access to culture that connected with me. I learned many of my native knowledge from elders in all kinds of lineages, I have always been called to have a old soul and connect and want to learn from the elders, rather than hang out with my peers. This connecting with community has built a large web of people I learn from in all sorts of indigenous perspectives.
Natives from Cuba are called Taino.
See: Yeah…same thing in Guatemala. The Spanish looking people are mean to the Indigenous. They look down on them and treat them bad. The Mayan people are now fighting for their rights to broadcast their own TV channel because its the only way any natives get on TV.
I’m learning that no matter how much western “civilization” tries to separate us from our ancestry they never will. I’ve read several posts from different people in online forums say things like, “there is usually one per family that gets called by the ancestors.” Then the research and digging begins. This is true for me and I have been doing lots of research for the past 3 years.
I recently found out that my great grandmother and great, great grandmother were medicine woman. They lived and learned from the northern Maya of Chiapas. To me this is so cool and keeps me digging for more.
William A Rodriguez: Oh yeah, very cool! Have you tried ancestor work via shamanic tools?
Like plant medicine? Drumming? Trance work?
See: I bought a mushroom drum after my injury from a native American drum maker…I actually started playing it quite naturally on my own. Just a few meditation sessions and I was playing it like if I had been playing for a long time. I also bought a frame drum and a wrist shaker. I started digging into my ancestry then suddenly I began meeting shamanic practitioners from all over the world.
I did use mushrooms and heard a woman talking to me during my journey. That’s the very week that I called my mom to ask her to please tell me about my great grandma and she told me stories about her and my great, great grandmother! It was such a profound experience. Then discovering that the Maya actually had a mushroom religion and they left us artifacts or art works in the form of carved mushroom spirits. R Gordon Wasson called them Mayan Mushroom Stones. I feel like they hid these away so that one day people including myself could be reminded of their true ancestry.
Now I’m meeting people that have lived with tribes in the Amazon. I have met Ayahuasca shamans, Kambo and Bufo shamans, Reiki Healers and all sorts of spiritual people’s. I have been led to Mayan shamanic practitioners and learned of sacred rituals that go on yearly at sacred sites around Mexico and Guatemala.
William A Rodriguez: In the future I want to expand out and start offering personal 2-7 day immersions for people. I have a recent post on my website giving a feel for my direction. I want to train people in intimate personal setting and focus on their goals. Focusing on shamanic techniques, instruments, and cultural learning, ceremonies, etc.
See: Wow! That is very cool! Excited to hear about the work you are doing!
I am very happy to have connected with you. The timing seems right.Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us!
William A Rodriguez: You too! Thanks for your positive review and I hope we can connect sometime in the future!!
See: Sounds good to me! Lets keep in touch!
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and im out…