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The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
 
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 The Nahuas and the "Coyotes" Today

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PostSubject: The Nahuas and the "Coyotes" Today   Tue Jun 30, 2009 12:41 pm

The Nahuas, their invincible spirit, and their language are still very much alive today - contrary to what some had expected or even desired, indigenous endurance, after hundreds of years of adversity, has made possible the survival of a people with a long cultural history. Today, in the last decade of our millennium, there are more than forty million native people in the Americas, one and a half million of whom are Nahuas engaged in the centuries-long struggle to preserve and foster their ancestral cultural identities. The intellectual effort of a growing number of them is currently contributing to a renaissance that includes the production of a new literature, aptly named by them YancuicTlabtolli, the "New Word."

Among the contemporary Nahua writers we find professionals teaching in rural communities, journalists, and university students. Some are already well acquainted with Nahuatl grammar and the ancient literature inscribed in the language. To them the compositions of pre-Columbian poets, such as the famous Nezahual Coyotl (1402-1472), the existant literary narratives, and the detailed chronicles - including those concerning the Spanish invasion found in this book - are a source of inspiration. It has been a great honor and pleasure for me that some of these masters of the "new word" have attended the seminar on Nahuatlculture and language which I have conducted for more than thirty years at the National University Of Mexico.

One of these native authors, Joel Martinez Hernandez, born in the Huaxteca in the state of Hidalgo and himself a teacher, has penned in Nahuatl a literary declaration expressing his thoughts regarding the present and future of the Nahuas. In it he paints a painful image of those he and many Nahuas call "Coyotes," referring to the astute and voracious non-Indians who take advantage of the few possessions left to the indigenous peoples.

Some Coyotes are saying
that we Nahuas will disappear,
will vanish,
our language will be heard no more,
will be used no more.
The Coyotes rejoice in this,
as this is what they are looking for.
Why is it that they want us to disappear?
we do not have to contemplate this too long,
because four hundred years have shown us
the aim of the Coyotes.
They are envious of our lands,
our forests and rivers,
our work, our sweat.
The Coyotes want us living
in the slums of their cities,
naked and hungry,
subject to their falsehoods and frauds.
The Coyotes want us to work for them,
they want us to abandon
our communal lands, our labor,
our endeavors and language,
our ways of dressing and living,
our forms of thinking.
The Coyotes desire to make Coyotes out of us,
and then they will deprive us
of all that is ours,
the fruits of our labor
which has caused us fatigue.
We must strengthen our hearts with one,
two words, which will illuminateour eyes,
so we can become fully conscious of it.
We have many tasks to perform.
I will add only a few words.
Where and how many
are the Nahuas in Mexico?
We, the Nahuas,
are not just in one place,
we are scattered in sixteen states
and eight hundred and eight municipalities.
One has to understand
thatit is not only in our farms,
not only in our villages,
that we Nahuas exist.
Sometimes we hear
that we Nahuas are vanishing,
but the census figures
speak very differently. Truly we can assert that,
although some want us to disappear,
we Nahuas continue to live,
we Nahuas continue to grow.

The Nahuas, formerly vanquished and for centuries oppressed, are indeed growing in numbers and, above all, have become fully conscious of the right they have to preserve their language and culture. With this assurance, today they are busily reflecting upon their culture and its destiny. The "others", imagined and described in many forms by them since the days of the invasion, must come to grips with and understand this new perspective. As is daily becoming more evident, the Nahuas and the millions of other Native Americans throughout the hemisphere are no longer asking for mercy. Like other Americans, north and south of the equator, they know they have their rights as individuals, communities, and ethnic groups. But now another issue has come to the fore: How does one learn to trust in oneself? Some indigenous writers claim that for this to take place a new self-image must be created. One Nahua poet, Natalio HernindezXocoyotzin, a native of Ixhuatan, Veracruz, has conveyed this insight beautifully.

Sometimes I feel
that we, the Indians, are waiting
for the arrival of a Man
who can achieve all,
knows everything,
is ready to help us,
will answer our problems.

But, this Man who
can achieve all,
knows everything,
will never arrive

because he is in ourselves,
walks along with us.
He has been asleep,
but now he is awakening."

The broken spears, the net made of holes, was it all merely adream? Ancient poetry was like "the flowers that wither", as a fifteenth-century Nahua poet expressed it. But now it is different The "person-within" is already awakening, giving strength to the heart of the Nahuas. The words of that inner American being are different from those heard daily in our busy lives, but by listening carefully one can perceive in them the wisdom of the Nahua elders.

They shall not wither, my flowers,
they shall not cease, my songs,
I, the singer, lift them up.
They are scattered, they spreadabout.
But even though my flowers may yellow,
they shall live
in the innermost house
of the bird of the golden feathers.
Posted by Steel Here at 21:10
Labels: The Aftermath
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