We all know the Aztecs by that name, but it was not actually a name that they ever called themselves. The Westerners who came up with the name ‘Aztecs’ likely took it from one of the original places that the Aztecs lived around the twelve century, called Aztlan, which was in the Northern part of Mexico. However, the Aztecs themselves actually referred to themselves as Mexica, which is actually where the name for the country of Mexico originally came from.
Mexica (Meh-shee-kah) is the original Nahuatl (the so-called Aztec language) way of pronouncing Mexican, Mexicano, Chicano and Chicana. The Mexica was the last of our great Anahuac civilizations (1325 to 1521). Mexica is the only one of our cultures and civilizations which has enough surviving material from which we can reconstruct our Anahuac nation. The Mexica were victims of an ethnocide that left no one today who can authentically call themselves Mexica, much like in Italy there is no one who can authentically call themselves Roman. Therefore, the rest of us who have lost all of our civilization identity and culture or tribal identity and culture, and even those of us who have a civilization or tribal identity, can and should embrace Mexica identity as a collective identity for all of us that we use in order to reconstruct our Anahuac nation and as a means of Liberation. Mexica is our point of unity and our means of reconstructing all of our nation.
Nican Tlaca is our Nahuatl (Mexica) language way of saying “We the people here”, in reference to all of us who are Indigenous to Cemanahuac (what Europeans call “the Western Hemisphere”) and more specific to Anahuac which is the northern part of Cemanahuac (which is called “North America”). Nican Tlaca refers to all of the people of our race in the “Western Hemisphere”. We are not Indians or indios because those are the people of a nation called India!
"A lot of Spanish speaking indigenous people of Mexico always tend to say to me, "I see you writing & speaking Nahuatl. I wish I spoke, Nahuatl, too!" But what they don’t know is that MOST of us, more so us that were raised in pueblos, ejidos, little villages, we already speak Nahuatl, at least a large list of words we use daily are actually Nahuatl words. What happened is that when the Spaniards forced our ancestors to speak Spanish (or Castellano/Castilian), and prohibited us from speaking Zapotec, Mixtli, Nahuatl, Maya, etc., our people had no choice, as captives, but to speak Spanish, but in secret they still spoke their indigenous tongue among each other. Our ancestors believed that it was very important to speak our tongue (regardless what tongue it is, as long as it’s indigenous to you) and that is why they continued speaking it, even if with time it watered down some, the fact remains that our ancestors passed it on. A lot of us that were born, and raised in, or by parents raised in villages, pueblitos, ejidos, we are speaking Nahuatl meanwhile we speak Spanish. Don’t believe me? I’m going to write down a few words for you in Nahuatl, and you’ll be shocked as to how you thought you were speaking Spanish, but in reality you were speaking Nahuatl:
These are just a few that we use on a daily basis, but most of what we say is really Nahuatl, at times Zapotec, Mixtli, and other Native tongues, and that’s why when you go to Spain, or even attend a school in Mexico, you might even fail a Spanish class because, We speak Nahuatl mixed with some Spanish, and we owe all thanks to our ancestors that were so dedicated in passing down our tongue. I hope that empowered you, and gave you pride as well!” - credit to (Ricardo Ignacio)
Dogs were associated with the god of death, Xolotl, among the Mexicas of the highlands of Mexico. Both a dog and Xolotl were thought to lead the soul to the underworld. The skinny body and white hue of the shown dog represented above may have underworld connotations, connecting it to this belief. Xolotl was also associated by the Mexica with the planet Venus as the evening star, and was portrayed with a canine head.
The dog’s special relationship with humans is highlighted by a number of Colima dog effigies wearing humanoid masks. This curious effigy type has been interpreted as a shamanic transformation image or as a reference to the modern Huichol myth of the origin of the first wife, who was transformed from a dog into a human. However, recent scholarship suggests a new explanation of these sculptures as the depiction of the animal’s tonalli, its inner essence, which is made manifest by being given human form via the mask.
The use of the human face to make reference to an object’s or animal’s inner spirit is found in the artworks of many ancient cultures of the Americas, from the Inuit of Alaska and northern Canada to peoples in Argentina and Chile. (Walters)
On the subject of the significance of dogs, and dog effigies wearing humanoid masks, check out this post from a while back of ‘examples of dogs represented in ancient Mexican art.’ The final artefact here is from Colima, and shows a dog wearing a human mask.