Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez

Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez


Winter 2021

Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez (they/she) is a Mexican-born Xicana scholar-practitioner of indigenous descent trained in educational pedagogy, circle keeping, performance art, and community organizing.  They are recognized for their canon of healing-informed praxis intersecting performance art, ancestral knowledge systems and restorative/transformative justice practices as tools for personal & collective transformation. She holds a BA in International Relations Latin American Studies, a MS in Organizational Leadership & is currently a MAS Professor at UTSA. She’s participated as Southwest Folklife Fellow focusing on Participatory Action Research & an Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellow focusing on inter-culturality in arts & culture. She co-leads, Kalpulli Ayolopaktzin, a transnational inter-tribal group of families preserving Anahuaka teachings and was active in the Wind & Warrior Sacred Waters Pilgrimage to heal colonial trauma through ritual solidarity across Black Indigenous diaspora.  She is a veteran Bgirl/Hip Hop dancer, a wife, and most importantly a Mami passionate about healing intergenerational/colonial trauma through matriarchal leadership and resiliency. Laura is a Co-Founder and Visionary behind De Corazón Circles, a consulting and capacity building firm that envisions a safe and equitable world where restorative interactions transform individuals, relationships, communities and systems through the prevention, repair and deep healing of harm.

Tell us: what excites you about your work?

I feel that a lot of the groundwork and rolling of the soil that I’ve done in my community is yielding amazing fruit at this time. I’m in a place where I feel like I’ve rediscovered my sovereignty and autonomy through advocating and working towards equity and healing in the spaces that I get to do community work and that steadfast focus on the integrity of my contributions has allowed me to see clearly where my energy needs to be invested in and how to request reciprocity and support when I need it too. I feel like I can support my community while being supported in my needs too and that’s something that at one point I couldn’t even fathom because I had normalized exploitation as something that “just comes with the territory.” I am excited to see that there are other ways emerging and that I’m contributing to that movement somehow even if it’s just by my mere existence and the depth of my relationships within my community.

What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

I feel that the depth of my work is so fulfilling and that shifting my focus on making sure that each interaction I have with my community is centered in deep kinship building and reciprocity has made my work more sustainable. That feels soooo good after years of always feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, that I was too busy, or that I was stretched thin because I had siloed my work into various pockets of my community. I feel my work is more centralized now as I am able to focus on healing and restoration and that allows me to work from a place of abundance to generate more richness into the way I work and how that ripples out into my community.

Who do you dedicate your work to?

My work is dedicated to my ancestors and all those that came before me that are no longer here to reap the benefits of the foundations they laid out for us. I know that many people died even in the last couple of years while striving to give me and my future generations the promise of ease, retribution, and repair from the harms of systemic violence and they deserved to see our gains. I also dedicate my work to future generations so that they don’t have to worry about being resilient in the face of oppression. By doing my part to dismantle it, they can simply live and thrive harmoniously.

Who inspires you, who are you learning from, what books are you reading?

I’m inspired by my family who works daily to break generational patterns of violence and oppression by learning new ways of communicating our needs and setting up boundaries. I learn the most about myself and where I need to grow from my kids. I learn how to model kindness and compassion as a value in our family. I also learn a lot from our community accountability processes and how to hold dice for each other when we’re not at our best and need reminders of our ability to do better and repair harm. I’m reading: The Mastery of Life by Don Miguel Ruiz - Readings by Jaiya John - See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur, and re-reading Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Marie Brown.

“I also dedicate my work to future generations so that they don’t have to worry about being resilient in the face of oppression. By doing my part to dismantle it, they can simply live and thrive harmoniously.”

How can people reading this support the work you are doing?

People can support the work I do learning about decolonization/indigenization, transformative justice practices, and the values of abolition. Folks can support by giving land back to indigenous people in the territories they occupy, by supporting BIPOC communities and their projects, by relinquishing their power to empower Black, Brown, and Queer Matriarch leadership in their organizations. I feel that by doing this we are healing the generational harm that BIPOC, women/femme, and queer/trans folk have endured and can take tangible steps to repairing and rebuilding. When marginalized folks thrive, we all thrive!

What something you didn’t know, that now you understand differently with wellness?

One thing that I’ve re-learned and “hits different” at this time in my wellness and healing journey is the importance of healthy boundaries and creating a nurturing ecosystem of people closest to you.

I have always been known to assume the best in people until proven otherwise and to extend myself beyond my capacity to help others. I’ve learned to listen to my intuition and not feel guilty about not feeling comfortable to help someone on their healing journey and that my medicine isn’t for everyone. I’ve learned that the people who resonate with my medicine will feel comfortable supporting me too so that I am not overextending myself and will keep me accountable to the integrity of my work.

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

I am a tradition keeper and culture bearer and my wellness practice includes ancestral dance, somatic healing, and ritual. I have a morning and night ritual and I work with the cuales of the moon and seasons to tune myself to the vibration of the earth and cosmos during alignments such as the solstices and equinoxes. Staying in sync with the count of Anahuaka calendar also helps me find balance as it helps me work with the daily, seasonal, and yearly vibration of our sacred count.

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