Maria Christina DeColores Moroles (1953–)

Maria Christina DeColores Moroles (also known by the ceremonial names Sun Hawk and Aguila) is best known for founding and maintaining Santuario Arco Iris, an intentional land community in Ponca (Newton County) designed specifically as a “sacred land space” for women and children, especially marginalized women and children of color. Moroles, a so-called two-spirit woman of Mexican and Indigenous American descent, began living on the 500-acre wilderness preserve in 1976. (Moroles prefers the pan-Indian term “two spirit” to the term “lesbian” to describe a third or non-binary gender identification and sexual orientation that derives from Native American ceremonial roles and culture.)

Maria Christina DeColores Moroles was born on October 17, 1953, in Corpus Christi, Texas, to Jose Elizondo Moroles of Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and Maria Bautista Moroles of Robstown, Texas. She was one of six siblings. Her parents engaged in farm, factory, domestic, and janitorial labor before her father worked his way into management for the Pearle Vision optical company. Eventually, both parents and a sister moved to participate in the business operations of her brother Jesus Moroles, an internationally renowned large installation granite sculptor.

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Moroles ended her formal schooling in the seventh grade in response to the poverty, racism, and sexual violence she encountered. She eventually earned a General Education Diploma (GED). At age fifteen, Moroles married David Paige; their daughter, Jennifer Jo, was born in 1971. She then moved to northwestern Arkansas, where she became involved in the burgeoning women’s community.

Initially, in 1976, Moroles and her daughter lived on property in Ponca owned by a lesbian land collective called Sassafras. Moroles then negotiated with the Sassafras Women’s Community to deed 120 acres of land, now known as Santuario Arco Iris, to women of color. In 2000, the original purchaser of the Sassafras land, activist and artist Diana Rivers, and Moroles agreed to place the remaining 400 acres of what was then called the Wild Magnolia land under the stewardship of the nonprofit Arco Iris Earth Care Project (AIECP). Moroles and her then-partner Miguela Borges reared a second child, Mario, born in 1988, on the land.

Moroles sought apprenticeship and training from a wide range of healers, psychics, social justice activists, and shamans. In addition to earning her license in massage therapy, she studied with such noted figures as massage healer Ranjana Pallana; psychic healer Jose Silva; Muscogee medicine man Phillip Deere; two-spirit activist, ceremonial lodge keeper, and sculptor Marsha Gomez; Louis Farmer, chief of the Onondaga Nation; and Danza Azteca elder Senora Arco Iris Cobb. She also studied with curanderos (folk healers) and shamans including Celia Herrera Rodriguez, Elena Avila, Eduardo and Julia Calderon, Froilan Monzon Zegarra, and Dona Julieta Perida. From these many teachers, Moroles honed her skills as an herbalist, psychic healer, indigenous medicine woman, ceremonial lodge keeper, and Sun Dancer.

At Arco Iris and in many locations around the United States and the world, Moroles has practiced the skills she learned from her diverse and far-flung teachers to serve as a natural healer, spiritual adviser, workshop leader, ceremonial lodge keeper, and guest speaker. She has also performed indigenous baptisms, officiated at marriages, and presided over funerals.

The signal contribution that Moroles has made to the people and history of Arkansas over four decades has been her commitment to living on and preserving the 500-acre wilderness preserve in the Ozarks, which includes both Santuario Arco Iris and the AIECP. Through this commitment, Moroles has provided a safe place of retreat for women and children of color from Arkansas and beyond, offered an array of natural healing treatments to all who requested them, and served as the “matriarchal steward” of an intentional community devoted to Indigenous American, ecofeminist, and anti-racist principles.

For additional information:
Arco Iris Earth Care Project. (accessed June 5, 2023).

Cheney, Joyce, ed. Lesbian Land. Minneapolis: Word Weavers, 1985.

Norman, Rose, Merril Mushroom, and Kate Ellison, eds. Landykes of the South: Women’s Land Groups and Lesbian Communities in the South. Sinister Wisdom 98. New York: A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2015.

Thompson, Brock. The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010.

Lauri Umansky
Arkansas State University


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