The Significance of Zentli (Corn)

Zentli (corn) is significant and valued for many reasons by people across Indigenous America and the world.  Zentli, claim many people that base their livelihoods on and in connection to a particular place upon earth as a result of the ancient plant, is life itself.  Zentli is as old as the earth, and is the plant relative of the first human inhabitants.  Oral accounts recorded in the amoxtin—traditional pictographic books of indigenous Mexican people—describe how the “new humanity” was created from ground bones of the previous humans, the blood of Ketzalkoatl—Guardian of Intelligence, and corn seeds.


Zentli, however, doesn’t grow on its own as do other plants; it needs to be planted as a family of corn, accompanied by its sister plants beans and squash, ensuring its growth and nurtured by humans through environmentally sound and sustainable methods.  Throughout its life cycle, zentli brings people together, encouraging us to care for it collectively and to celebrate the life zentli offers.  Further, zentli represents the diversity of energy, life, and the inter-relatedness of humans that populate the earth.


Zentli carries the essence of the communities that have cared for and protected its integrity for thousands of years, and are still nourished by it, not only physically, yet spiritually as well.  Zentli is the core identity of Mexicano, Chicano, Latino, and Indigenous peoples that live throughout the continent of Ixachilan and unifies us as a family.  As a result of our genetic and spiritual connection with zentli, capitalist corporations have strategically assumed control over corn, subsequently displacing entire communities from their original homelands, their traditions, languages, and from corn itself.


The genetic engineering and manipulation of zentli has seriously compromised the health of corn, therefore we too are at risk of being modified into unidentifiable parts and synthetic, disposable products.  Hence, the importance for the recovery of the health of corn, since this has a direct impact on the health of the earth and all living beings.


We invite you to consider the well-known phrase: “you are what you eat.”  What do you eat?

Tlalnepantla Arts | Zenteotl Project


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