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A Chicano is a Mexican person born in the United States. Chicana is the female form of the word, which often also has feminist connotations. The term Chicano is believed to be offensive by some Mexican-Americans, preferring other identities such as Hispanic, Latino, or even Spanish. In Mexico the term can connote a person of low-class and poor morals, while in the US the term carries multiple meanings. Sabine Ulibarri, a famous author from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico notes that "chicano" is a politically-loaded term, though it is considered a positive term-of-honor by others.

Many Chicanos refer to themselves as "La raza" (literally, 'the race'). Some use the phrase "la raza de bronce", some see themselves as "brown" or "bronze" because of their aboriginal ancestry (as opposed to white and black people). Most refer to themselves as "la raza cosmica" which means the universal race. Bruce Novoa, a famous Chicano author, once wrote that Chicanos exist in the space created by the hyphen in Mexican-American. The etymology of the word Chicano is uncertain, some link it to Mexicano (i.e. Mexican).

Before Spanish colonization, Aztlán was the dominant native nation, which predominant language was Nahuatl. Huitzolopochtli is the Aztec god of fire, war, and the sun. Mexi was another name for Huitzolopochtli. There was a split in the Aztec community and the group who considered themselves the sons of Huitzolopochtli called themselves Mexica, which led to the name Mexico. The word chicana/o is derived from Xica (chica) from Mexica (Mechica). Many individuals of Mexican descent use the word Chicana or Chicano is a reclaiming and regeneration of a culture destroyed through colonialism.

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