Getting to know each other

atatobu isherikeili”

new beginnings through old world medicine 

Adela Nieves Martinez is a visual storyteller, traditional community health practitioner, and Carrier of the wisdom of the heart. The familial lineages she knows most deeply are her Boricua/Puerto Rican roots and Taino ancestry (and is learning more everyday), but her people are also from the Spanish and African diasporas. She has worked closely with Mexica, Meso-American, Aztec and Lakota traditions and is grateful to be included as ceremonial family. 

Adela (meaning Noble) was named by her kindhearted grandfather Melquiades. He asked if she could be named after his first love, the person he couldn’t be with but never forgot. Named after the strength of the unforgotten, it makes sense that her path ahead would be the honoring of relationships, and always connected to the heart.

As a child she was called Ada (also meaning noble) and as a teenager, Adi/Ady (again, meaning noble). Adela’s name was americanized to Adele (guess what that means?) by her father, and she reclaimed Adela almost 11 years ago. Before 2011, you will find a good portion of her work under the name Adele. As in any good Latinx household, things flow well when someone has at least 10 nicknames. She is ok with folx calling her Adele, although she prefers Adela. Unless you can come up with a better nickname. 😉

Adela’s practice explores the intersection of healing and the creation of collective memory. Her work has always sought to build cultural connections, call forward ancestral knowledge, and evolve our collective definitions of health and wholeness. 

Her passion for mixed-media storytelling includes the curation of spaces, media installations, writing projects, and film.  Adela’s current project “10 Years Later” (2020) is a continuation of an archival docuseries which began in 2010.  Through community interviews of Detroit activists, it explores the connections between local and global movements that are working to create alternative systems and practices.  In the juxtaposition of the two pieces, her vision of preserving collective memory comes to life. 

As a certified health practitioner, Adela has also spent a good portion of her life restoring the traditional practices from her family, and more recently of her ceremonial Yukayeke, Tribu Yuke on the island of Boriké (now known as Puerto Rico). She has worked with Traditional healers from around the world, sharing and learning lessons, strategies, and healing traditions. In 2015 she founded Healing by Choice!, a circle of women and gender non-conforming healing justice practitioners based in Waawiyatanong (Detroit). 

Over the last 20 years, Adela’s leadership, writing, art, healing, facilitation, administrative and communication work has appeared across several mediums including the US Social Forum, Essence, ZNet, Bitch, Allied Media Conference, make/shift,  Left Turn, SPEAK! Women of Color Media Collective, Vivirlatino,, B.L.A.C. MagazineScholar & Feminist Online and many other spaces.

Today, Adela’s practice of care and creation is rooted in the urgent need to reclaim our connections to each other, creatively and practically, and with Atabey/Mother Earth. For her, now more than ever it is important that we remember who we are, and strive to undo how we are defined externally by keeping our stories alive, together.

She finds joy and breath barefoot in the grass, swinging on a hammock, and dancing with her five-year-old.

*Bo’matum to all my teachers known and unknown, beginning with my maternal grandmother Carmen (Indigenous Espiritismo), Aracoel Margarita ‘Kuku-ya’ Nogueras Vidal (Taino), Paula Terrero (Reiki), Don Alberto Ramirez (Aztek-Mexica Danza), Arocoel Michael Lopez (Taino), Rita Navarrete Perez (Meso-American Curanderismo), Toñita Gonzales (Meso-American Curanderismo), Sylvia Ledesma (Mexica), Abuela Celia Perez-Booth (Mexika/Lakota), Cara Page (Healing Justice), Olatokunboh Obasi (African Cosmology/Taino), Schantell Puameole Taylor (Kanaka Moli), Matt Birkhold (transformative cultural practices), Yuketi (Taino), Matthew Cross (life, love and film) and many others.

My Journey

Does a Movement Need a Name?

Website Designer: Cassandra Lopez Fradera

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