Latinos en Capas, "Latinos in Layers" (A Poem Connecting Geology to Latino Culture)

About the Poem

Art, such as poetry, can be used to bridge science and culture. The purpose of "Latinos en Capas" is to express the geology and paleontology of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in a way that relates to Latino audiences. Capas is Spanish for layers. Just as the sedimentary rocks of Florissant Fossil Beds are layered, Latino traditions, culture and heritage is layered and distinct.

Through the Latino Heritage Internship Program, Astrid Garcia collaborated with Franklin Cruz to create this poem to highlight generational values, evolving cultures, and the struggles we persevere through. Like the earth, people are ever-changing and resilient.

Following the poem are translations and definitions of the various concepts described.
A multi-generational Latino family consisting of two children, two parents, and a grandmother stand behind a wooden fence admiring a large petrified Redwood stump.
A multi-generational Latino family admires a large petrified Redwood stump.

NPS Graphic / Karen Ceballos

La Tierra we stand on
Piel que sigue cambiando
There's a forever in the way we know the ground

The Florissant Valley's history saved in rock
Stratigraphy shows geologic events
Redwoods buried in volcanic mudflows
Tree cells soaked in silica
Permineralized, turning stumps to stone

After dinosaurs went extinct
Mammals adapted to the land
Adaptation means the land has a place for you
It is the language of immigrants
Who also adapt to the land
Many just to survive
Like the creatures that fossilized in the soil
Ancient mammals that roamed around
Making our normal look wild, look crazy, look other
As both a scientist and Latino
Other is for what we don't know

Other is for Brontotherium
Same attitude when people think latin
Only to get sweet food instead of spicy
Cause they've only seen Mexican food and not Cuban food
Like what you expect when you say horse
Only to show mesohippus
Maybe Latinos and creatures from the Eocene
Have more in common

Igual sufrimos cuando terremotos
Cambian nuestra vida
Seguimos luchando
Nuestros esfuerzos grabados en la piedra
Porque igual erupciones siguen afectandonos

Volcanoes blanket the land in ash
Burying and suffocating all
Ash fertilizing and perserving
Fossilizing ancient Redwoods
Where new growth can sprout

Latino is evolving
Diverse as oreodonts
Which disappeared some time ago
Like our grandparents who have passed
Passed on traditions, advice and guidance
Their heritage deposited within us

Latino is a forever conversation
Latino is as wide as geology
Latino is sedimentary
A mixture of time and minerals
An ecology as delicious as masa
Latinos know full belly
Tierra sin hambre

Dirt is cultura
Tierra es movimiento
Tierra es muestra
Dirt is the receipt
Tierra es la consultación
Con lo que fue antes

From the mountain tops
Fragments erode downward
Carried by wind and streams
To settle in the ground
Dirt that forms underneath our feet
That tells us stories
Of different times
From distant lands
Boulders, cobbles and pebbles
Traveling just as our ancestors
Our immigrant mothers and fathers
Who moved from one place to the next
Settling to where we could
Steward a culture and home.

Translations & Definitions

Español English
La Tierra The earth / ground
Piel que sigue cambiando Skin that keeps changing
Igual sufrimos cuando terremotos Equally we suffer when earthquakes
Cambian nuestra vida Change our life
Seguimos luchando We keep fighting
Nuestros esfuerzos grabados en la piedra Our efforts recorded in rock
Porque igual erupciones siguen afectandonos Because eruptions continue affecting us
Masa Maize dough
Tierra sin hambre Earth without hunger
Cultura Culture
Tierra es movimiento Earth is movement
Tierra es muestra Earth is an example
Tierra es la consultación Earth is the consultation
Con lo que fue antes With what was before

Geology An earth science that studies Earth's physical structures, history, and processes.
Stratigraphy Branch of geology that studies the order and position of rock layers and their relationship to the geologic time scale.
Sedimentary Types of rocks that form from fragments of pre-existing rocks, sediments, or organic materials at Earth's surface.
Permineralized Process of fossilization when water carries and deposits minerals into open spaces of organic tissues.
Ecology A branch of biology that studies the relationships between organisms and their surroundings.
Brontotherium Rhinoceros-like prehistoric megafauna mammal that lived in North America during the late Eocene epoch.
Mesohippus An extinct genus of the early horse that had three toes.
Oreodont Called ruminating hogs, which were diverse even-toed hooved mammals that are now extinct.
Eocene Epoch A geologic time period lasting about 56 to 34 million years ago.

Two young Hispanic people are pictured. On the left is a young woman in a light blue uniform shirt posing in front of the Florissant Fossil Beds sign. On the right is a young man smiling at the camera wearing a black shirt with colorful embroidered bees.
Astrid Garcia (left) and Franklin Cruz (right).

About the Authors

Astrid Garcia is an intern (2020) at Florissant Fossil Beds where she focuses on educational programs and activities that emphasize on geology and paleontology.

Franklin Cruz is an artist, scientist, collaborator in Denver whose work focuses on specificity over simplicity.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Last updated: December 6, 2020