As of the day 2-Cayman in the count 1-Flower in the year 10-House (September 8th,2009) I Miguel “Quimich” Bravo, in alliance with three other Warriors, formally dismissed ourselves from all association with the Aztlan Mexica Nation Harmony Keepers but most specifically it’s leader.
I was a Harmony Keeper for six years (2003-2009.) My dedication, character, and integrity can be vouched for by many Indigenous people and organizations in Los Angeles. I want to make clear my sincerity, integrity, and balanced disposition for making this statement. I have thought and prayed much over these past 7 months so as not be hasty with my statement, which is at least 10 years overdue.
Since leaving the Harmony Keepers. I have had many doors closed and rumors spread about me, my comrads, and the elder I have worked with around the time of the departure. The sources of these rumors and childish venom are from the obvious person(s) which have refused requests to talk or speak to me (us) but who are quick to make outrageous claims to avoid any real dialogue. I am not here to play childish games or have poisonous intercourse with anyone. I am only here to put the truth, as best as I can express it, out for people to make their own conscious decisions.
First and foremost this is not about me, it is about the respect and integrity of our Indigenous community, foremostly the women and children. I come forth and make this statement with the intention of restoring integrity and justice; in hopes of creating a REAL COMMUNITY. This statement is about ACCOUNTABILITY. I am not writing this to vent about mere trivial disagreements or to “divide the community” as some will lazily declare or make seem to be the case.
The sentiments and concerns presented here are not only mine but also of a collective of voices and experiences of the many former members of the Harmony Keepers from the past 12 yrs and of other credible leaders in the Los Angeles area. The presented information has been validated by first hand witnesses and research. I highly encourage you to ask your own questions, do your own research, and make your own decisions.
The primary reason for my exodus involves an unresolved matter of the past that has resurrected itself and is once again set before us. We’ve been called to see whether or not we will address the seriousness of it in a manner that brings dignity and respect to our women and children and the ways of our ancestors which so many claim to walk.
THE UNRESOLVED MATTER
There is a serial sexual predator that has been operating in Los Angeles under the cloak of an Indigenous leader for over 20 years now. Women in the past have come forth to elders in confidence and spoke of violations by this man only to have extremely little to no justice brought to the matter. In 1992 there was one attempt at justice. This man, Arturo “Pastel” Mareles, the leader of the largest Indigenous Dance Circle in the country, Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, was called to the fire by credible indigenous elders (twice) of the Los Angeles “community” to resolve this (particular) matter—to which he has never appeared to speak on. So much for respecting Indigenous protocol and “community”. I write community in quotations because if there truly was one here in L.A. how could this issue have been left unresolved for almost 20 years?
The information above is common knowledge to many elders and seasoned community warriors that frequent Native-Indigenous circles in Los Angeles. Pastel’s crimes (multiple) have been affirmed by many credible leaders in the Native-Indigenous and Chicano circles of Los Angeles. Elders that run sweats are among those I have spoken directly with to validate this information. Defenders of this serial sexual predator will lazily argue that it is a case of “infiltration” or that those speaking up are just “haters.” But if that was the case, why has Pastel refused to appear on the matters when called to the fire by elders and leaders? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Pastel has violated many young women , many of who are now grown women. Some elders have even told me that he is not allowed to even step into certain towns in Mexico. I highly suggest you do some research into this man’s history. This Unresolved Matter is abetted by and involves the leader of the Aztlan Mexica Nation Harmony Keepers and it’s leader.
ABETTING and INTENTIONAL DECEPTION
The following is my conclusion based on my experience and research with other former member of the Aztaln mexica Nation Harmony Keepers:
Harmony Keepers were specifically designed to protect Pastel from people seeking justice for his many alleged and unresolved crimes against young girls. Pastel was the original leader of the Harmony Keepers until he (to many people’s confusion) passed the leadership position (“fire”) to Hector Perez-Pacheco.
I, like all past and present recruits of the Harmony Keepers, are kept in the dark about the true history and purpose of the organization. If anyone inquires about the origin and history of Harmony Keepers, Hector Perez-Pacheco will either avoid the situation all together or give vague and misleading answers. Some ex-Harmony Keeper members have likened their experience of asking the leader about the circle’s origin to “pulling out teeth.” His most common answer is the extremely vague “we were designed to protect the elders.”
Many young men and women longing to reconnect with and learn their indigenous culture have put their heartfelt trust into Hector Perez-Pacheco only to finally realize they were intentionally being deceived and pawned into protecting a known sexual predator (Harmony Keeper obligations that are not for Pastel/ Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc are very few.) Pastel has many enemies who seek justice for the crimes he’s avoided accountability for. Hector does not reveal this highly dangerous dynamic to new Harmony Keeper recruits.
When presenting Hector Perez-Pacheco with this subject (if you’re even allowed to speak at all) he will state that he and Harmony Keepers are independent and not under Pastel’s /Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc leadership. But in the past, when Hector has been called by the community to step down for his failed leadership he will declare that only Pastel can take it from him.
Due to Hector Perez-Pacheco’s own reluctance to acknowledge and respect the will of the community he was kicked out of East L.A. in 2003. Among the many scenarios that season, Hector Perez-Pacheco was asked to step down by numerous people. During tlahtokans (speaking circles) He stated ,as I have verified by first had testimony, that he didn’t care and that if they (12 Warriors) wanted to leave they could do so because he could always find new people to stand with him. Many during this scenario went through every effort to handle his egotism in a good and proper way only to be disrespected by his PATTERN of not acknowledging the words of the people and native protocols. He will declare that those that have had issue with him only wanted his power or some other similar lie.
When I say he was “kicked out” it was to the point that the gangs in East LA had a “green light” on him. Harmony Keeper members are not told this. Yet AGAIN, this is just another example of how Hector Perez-Pacheco has put many lives in unnecessary danger.
UNRESOLVED CONCERNS ABOUT UNETHICAL MONEY PRACTICE
As expressed to me by former Harmony Keeper members, Hector Perez-Pacheco has failed to come clean about allegations about making money off his Harmony Keepers organization for personal gain. Questions by several ex-members have been left unanswered and to this day he has refused to come to the table on these matters. From my personal experience, the Harmony Keepers recently went to Washington DC in January of 2009 to protect Canadian Chiefs that were coming to visit of which I was a part. I was told by Hector Perez-Pacheco that we were “doing it for the love of our people” and that Chiefs were going to pay for our flight (7 people) of which they did. I recently talked to someone associated with the organizing of that event/trip who claimed Hector was paid $10,000 for that job. It would have been nice to find out where that money went or how it was used because the Harmony Keeper Circle sure didn’t get it. Perhaps there’s a chance I could be wrong about this particular account. However, his pattern of refusing to dialogue about ALL these issues should, in the very least, throw up a flag to you.
THE EXODUS from Harmony Keepers
When I first brought up my issue about working with Harmony Keepers under the leadership of Pastel’s Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc. The spirit I saw in him then, and that I had caught clear glimpses of weeks before, was heartbreaking. I didn’t want to believe what I was hearing. My issues that I brought to him were heartfelt and about how the spirit of this situation has personally affected me and my family–He spent most of his time talking over me, talking bad about the Auntie that I had came with, and lying to me that Harmony Keepers are a different organization. Every issue and personal truth that I brought up he refused to acknowledge and understand. At this point I and other comrades had already witnessed enough to lose faith in his leadership, this was just the cherry on the top.
When we went to give our formal resignation to Hector Perez-Pacheco and the Harmony Keeper circle the following Tuesday, we were met with egotism and belligerence. Despite myself speaking softly, trying to sincerely explain to him that I (we) just wanted to present him with some brief words and talk, we were kicked out and not allowed to speak in “everyone’s telpochcalli.” He was attempting to command us to break our Harmony formation and looked very scared which confused me very much. Why would he be so scared? Mind you I have been loyal to the Harmony Keepers circle for about 7 years already and this is how I was treated. Everyone knows my personality; I am a happy, goofy, and non-confrontational type of person. I would not expect that anyone that has known me for any amount of years, especially over 7 years, would even for a second, think I’ve come to cause harm.
We then walked out in a good way and waited for him outside the telpochcalli/center so we could speak with him. About 5 min later he came out with Abraham. The others that were in there for the training were spectating in the entrance hall. (It was 9pm when the training ends.) Again ,despite my humble energy and speaking Hector would not allow me any room to speak or be heard. He was acting belligerent and yelling declaring that we were disrespecting, being aggressive, and again trying to command us to break our Harmony formation.
I have heard rumors saying that we came in a threatening manner because we came “ in formation.” The truth of the matter is that we came to give our Formal Resignation and words of departure. The formation we were in is called the Harmony formation. Harmony represents balance and duality. It’s neither an aggressive nor a passive formation. It is formal and respectful, clean structure and form shows respect and sincerity.
Since he was not allowing our words to be heard I had to speak over him. To which I gave him our formal declaration and this is what I said:
“Honorable speaker, me and my comrades are most grateful for the love and leadership you have provided us. But after much conversing with our own hearts, we have made the decision to move forward and cut ties with Aztlan Mexica Nation Harmony Circle. We no longer feel confident or comfortable under your leadership. Without ego and emotion our foremost reasons for cutting ties are based in your disrespectful passive aggressive behavior toward the sacred medicines, Sundance prayers, and elders. We have also witnessed you say and do things in a controlling, ego based manner, and not walking the teachings of the telpochcalli. Your words and actions have displayed that our high priority heartfelt battle to protect and redeem the dignity of the women and children of the community has taken a backseat to your interest in maintaining good image. We wish you and the telpochcalli well and you will remain in our prayers.”
After I spoke those words, a sister who was with us went to present Hector with a respectful departing gift of sage to which he childishly refused to accept. We walked off and that concluded our official departure.
MY CONCLUSION about Harmony Keepers
My decision to leave the Harmony Keepers circle has been a very heartbreaking ordeal for me. This man who I looked up to, put trust in, and blessed me with great structure has succumbed to an unhealthy element in his spirit, an element that he has consciously neglected to address. I believe that he is a good man at his core. He has done and does a great many things. But the mistakes he has made, the spirit of HIS PATTERN to avoid these issues, the degree to which he goes to avoid public dialogue/questioning, and his conscious decision to be the personal knight that protects a known sexual predator is a very serious element that should not be overlooked or tolerated.
After 7 months since my departure I have had much difficulty regenerating my spirit from this wound. It still hurts for me to say any Nahuatl words, when I try to pray, or share any native centric thoughts it brings me pain and hurts my spirit. The braid that once sat on my tail bone is now a shaved head. How could this person and this so called native community in Los Angeles allow this to go on and close their doors to me? I’m not the one who chronically violates young women or consciously protects said individual, yet I’m the bad guy? And these other guys are the victims?
It has highly discouraged me, even with all the tools that I have to heal myself I still struggle with it. I can only imagine those that were new to these ways and teachings whose tools were/are not as seasoned as mine. How many others have been discouraged, pushed away from, and not been given a fair shake at learning the ways of their ancestors. How many others have been used just so this leader can deceive them, provide warriors to protect a sexual predator, and so that he can obligate them to numerous events just so that he can look good and get the credit ?
There are people who know this serious information about Pastel first hand. They also know that Hector’s is his main knight and allows Pastel to still operate in LA with impunity yet they still support Hector and I’m the bad guy? I don’t play politics with the those that consciously feed on the innocence of children, those that protect these violators, and those who still knowing of the horrible things that have been done, choose to support these individuals just so they can have people to protect their ceremonies. Again, just serving the spirit of egotism.
Yes it’s a tough and uncomfortable position to put many in, after all Harmony Keepers are probably the only known organization that attempts to protect ceremonies. But I guarantee you that it’s not remotely as tough and uncomfortable as it has been for those survivors and those that were used as pawns for the egotistical endeavors of these sexual predators and their bodyguards.
It hurts and pains me to even have to come to the point of writing this statement. This is the last thing I wanted to do. The choice was either make this statement or I stand like a passive chump on the sidelines and continue to let the spirits of these women and children be disrespected like so many other Native-Inidgenous “leaders” in Los Angeles have done. I am by no means a confrontational person but this is where I draw the line.
Question the Harmony Keepers
If you support Harmony Keepers under the leadership of Hector Perez-Pacheco, which ultimately is Danza Mexica Cuahtemoc under the leadership of Pastel Mireles, then that is your prerogative and on your karma account. You have been told. I will not support such ignorant stances. The minimum you should do is question and look into all this info for yourself. Look Hector Perez-Pacheco or the other remaing seasoned Harmony Keepers in the eyes when you ask about the items I have presented to you. You will see the truth without them even speaking a word. At the very least believe that my words are lies and look into these subjects for yourself. Let’s have a public speaking circle with all parties invoved and let us get to the bottom of this travesty as a real Indigenous community. Be about the ways and integrity of the ancestors. Don’t suffice for my words here. Look into it. The dignity and spirits of our women and children have been disrespected enough!
A-ho | Ometetotl | Mitakyue Oyasin.
Quimichipilli / Jeiaki Sapichu
[…] the allegation, a now-former member of Pastel’s protection group the Harmony Keepers, whistleblowed and amplified the issue back to the forefront of the Indigenous community’s awareness. Significant community […]