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). She has worked closely with Mexica, Meso-American, and Aztec 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.

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 most recent video 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. 

Her words can also be found in Sonia Renee Taylor and adrienne maree brown’s Institute for Radical Permission 12-week course – Unit 4.

And, the recently released book HEALING JUSTICE LINEAGES: DREAMING AT THE CROSSROADS OF LIBERATION, COLLECTIVE CARE, AND SAFETY by Cara Page and Erica Woodland, Foreward by Aurora Levins Morales.

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.

Adela has also spent a good portion of her life restoring the traditional practices from her family, and now living on the island of her people – Boriké (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). She remains committed to their work.  

Today, Adela’s journey of care and creation is rooted in the urgent need to restore 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, resting in a hammock, and dancing with her six-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-Mexicatl Danza), Arocoel Michael Lopez (Taino), Rita Navarrete Perez (Meso-American Curanderismo), Toñita Gonzales (Meso-American Curanderismo), Sylvia Ledesma (Mexica), Abuela Celia Perez-Booth (Mexicatl/Lipan Apache), 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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