Destruction of Histories

One of the weapons the Spanish used during the 'conquista" of Latin America against the indigenous tribes like the Aztecs and Maya was "reculturalization". The indigenous people's were forced to accept Spanish values as their own. The enslaved indigenous peoples used the building materials of their own monuments to erect Catholic cathedraTs and churches right on the spot where indigenous groups had built their own sacred temples.

Indigenous literature was confiscated and burned, which erased indigenous people's history, and theoretically made it easier for indigenous people to assimilate into Hispanic American society. In one case, a Spanish governor in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula was alerted that many Mayan peasants were still practicing their ancient rituals, and keeping sacred books and idols guarded in a cave where they would worship. The governor ordered these items seized and destroyed. The Mayan people screamed and cried in anguish, knowing especially that the knowledge contained in the books was to be lost forever.

Today, most of what we know about Latin America after the conquest was originally documented through the eyes of the Spanish, who wrote and published their own accounts of the '~conquista". Most Spaniards at the time were appalled at indigenous peoples' religious rituals, which often called for human sacrifices as a sign of tribute to the gods and consequently, the current ruler. The Spanish ~'Conquistadores" were accompanied to the Americas by various waves of religious orders, including the Jesuits and the Franciscans, who saw to it to religiously convert all indigenous peoples, using the "sword and the cross" of their own god.

Stop here and discuss:

1. What other cultures have been overtaken by others, losing part of their identity in the process?

2. What aspects of your own culture are seen to be strange and misunderstood by other cultures?

Other study guides:
Leaders Punished
Second Class Citizens
Spanish Imposed
Violence Continues
Catholicism Imposed
Destruction of Histories
Architecture Destroyed
Death by Diseases

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