When I ﬁrst started at the UA as a freshman in 1997, I entered as aMathematics and Mexican-American Studies double-major. I was too new to theworld of academia and college politics to understand the change that was goingon at that time, as both the program and the student center were transformingfrom the Sal Baldenegro era to a new era that, to myself, lacked the culturalelement I was looking for. Economics, public policy, public health and other areaswere being pursued, but I was still on my search for truth and identity.I stuck with the anthropological research even as a graduate student inApplied Mathematics, and then I found something resembling what I was lookingfor at the MAS program in TUSD. I am not alone in my feelings towards"academic" MAS as also mentioned in the same article I quoted from above byDr. Cintli:
MAS-TUSD educator Norma Gonzalez characterizes the Indigenous component of the MAS-TUSD curriculum as a form of decolonization of Chicano Studies.More than that, she says, it provides students a path toward humanization (personal communication, August 2011). Indeed, the MAS-TUSD curriculum does differ from other public Mexican American Studies programs. Traditionally, the discipline, created in the 1960s, traces the beginnings of Mexican Americans to 1848 and the Mexican American War.A second wave of primarily feminist scholars pushed the date back in the late 1970s to 1519 and the creation of the ﬁrst mestizo/mestiza.The MAS-TUSD program, on the other hand, is anchored in maiz-based knowledge that is part of a lived experience, rather than limited to myth- legend. Most people of Mexican- Central American and Chicana-Chicano descent continue to adhere to this maiz-based knowledge. For example,they continue to enjoy the ancient maiz-beans-squash and chile diet. This form of knowledge promotes an identity not based on war or conquest, but on that which deﬁnes a large part of the continent: maiz.MAS-TUSD anchors its curriculum around the maiz-derived concepts of In Lak Ech (You are my other Self), Panche Be (To seek the root of the Truth),and Hunab Ku (Grand Architect of the Universe). These three concepts form the philosophical foundation for the program and are metaphorically traced back 7,000 years to the creation of maiz.