When asked by the Truckee River who she was recently, Susy Ramirez leaned forward and proudly proclaimed: “I am a warrior. Every day is a battle to me.”
The Strength of a Woman ...
The strength of a woman who slept in her car after nights spent studying for her dual bachelor's degree.
The strength of a woman who had the courage to leave an abusive relationship, even if it did mean sleeping in her car. The strength of a woman who didn't know where her next meal was going to come from but still received As and Bs at the end of the semester.
“It was an escape for me because that was that one thing in my life I could control,” Ramirez said of her studies. “I was surprised and I would cry when I would look at my grades and say how did I do this?”
She is scheduled to graduate with a bachelor's in sociology and women’s studies in May.
“I need to be able to survive, just like my ancestors have been doing for 500 years. I’m a survivor of genocide, of abuse. So I take that survivorship and warrior-ship really serious. It’s real,” she said.
Ramirez, who prefers her reclaimed name, Xochitl Papalotl, migrated from Mexico City when she was eight. Although her ancestral land is far she says keeping her heritage alive is one of her priorities.
“I think decolonization has been one of the most transformative parts of my life, realizing where exactly I come from,” she said.
She ultimately hopes to completely reclaim her tribe’s language and to one day return to her tribe’s original land in Mexico to live a traditional life.
Ramirez acknowledges the Reno area as North Shishone and Washoe territory, the tribes that originally called the Reno area home. She said the Great Basin will always have a place in her heart for making her the woman she is today.
“Growing up among the sagebrush and the mountains and the Truckee River are a part of me,” Ramirez said. “I‘m a desert girl. I identify a lot with desert plants because they don’t really need a lot of water. They can live for a long time and they’re really beautiful.”