Home 603 Mesoamerica Cultures

Book List

Week 1-2 Carmack

Week 3 Whisnat

Week 4 Whisnat

Week 5 Whisnat

Week 6 Nash

Week 6 Essay 1 Question

Week 6 Essay

Week 7 Nash

Week 8 Manz

Week 9 Manz

Week 10 Binford

Week 11 Binford

Week 12 Oppenheimer

Week 12 Quinnones

Week 12 Essay 2 Question

Week 12 Essay 2

Week 13 Oppenheimer

Week 13 Quinnones

Week 14 Dow

Week 15 Dow

Final Paper

 


Victoria Kline
Anthropology 582: Mesoamerican Cultures
September 15, 2004
Dr. Ramona Perez

Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: Part I

Author David E. Whisnant tells the story of the people of Nicaragua from the time of Spanish conquest. The peoples of Nicaragua were not organized or united, but separated by language and ethnicity into smaller groupings each governing its own territory. The area that is now Nicaragua has been described as a periphery zone, to the more influential and “advanced” cultures of Mesoamerica.

Chapter I briefly reviews the prehistory of Nicaragua, but really begins with Spanish contact and conquest. Land was lush and offered plenty of bounty for the natives to subsist on. Contact brought diseases, new animals and plants, and new ideas on how to use the land and its people. Diets changed, health changed with diet. Diseases were inadvertently brought in that the people had no resistance to like smallpox and plague. Huge portions of the indigenous population died from disease. Slavery existed prior to contact, but the Spaniards turned slaving into a major trade for a short time in the sixteenth century.

In Chapter II we learn the history of Nicaragua from the end of Spanish rule “to the end of the Zelaya administration in 1909…”(Whisnant 55). Whisnant describes the ways the time period left its brand on the native population. The Spanish towns of Leon and Granada were populated by Spanish elite, and became the dominant powers in Nicaragua. The US began to heavily influence life ways through trade and tourism. Nicaraguan native cultures carried on a sort of passive resistance in the form of satiric performances such as El Gueguence, and El Espiritu del Siglo. And finally the presidency of Jose Santos Zelaya, who supported those who got him into power, gave financial support to elites, and did not concern himself with the common people – the native population.

Chapter III tells the story of the Somoza Dictatorship which lasted from 1936 to 1979. Anastasio Somoza Garcia, the father came into power first followed by sons Luis Somoza Debayle, and Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Father Somoza was educated in the USA and loved the trappings of the west. What did this do for the indigenes? They were then at the mercy of US consumer producers with their fancy ads and empty promises. Just like us. Anyway, the Somoza regime was rife with agendas and used political manipulation constantly to achieve their own goals. His reign was characterized by neglect and repression of the people. Native culture systems were under attack. Father Somoza was followed by Luis (a more benevolent leader), then Anastasio who was as just like his father in the treatment of the indigenes.

What were the native cultural systems under attack? And what were the detrimental influences during the period of Spanish occupation? From Independence to the Zelaya administration? Throughout the Somoza dictatorship?

What is a ladino? It seems to mean mixed-race. But, they did not have to pay tribute. The dictionary definition I have gives this definition: ladino – “a westernized Spanish-speaking Latin American; esp: mestizo” (Webster’s 643)

Mestizaje? That means mestizoization, right? If mestizos have the rights of non-payment of tribute, why is mestizaje considered a bad thing? Unless it means the lessening of the native population of pure blood Indians? I had to make sure what a mestizo was also. In the dictionary again: mestizo “a person of mixed European and American Indian ancestry” (Webster’s 721).

  

Sources Cited

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary
1974    G. & C. Merriam Co. Springfield, Massachusetts.

Whisnant, David E.
1995    Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua. University of North Carolina Press.

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