The Spanish had heard stories told of an area in the ~North" dominated by warrior women, who lived in silver cities. This 'myth" gave rise to the legendary 'Seven cities of Cibola, and the riches of Quivira, which were supposedly located in today's American South West. Even today, the migratory waves towards "the North" signifies the search for greater riches and wealth.
Moving South, the Spanish encountered another great civilization, the Inca, who controlled a vast empire comparable to that of the Aztecs. Upon their arrival in the South American Andes mountains, the Spanish wasted no time in demonstrating their more advanced wartime technology, and quickly overcame the armies of the Inca emperor, Atahualpa in 1532. Just South-East of Tenochtitlan, the Spanish encountered the Maya, whose highly developed societies of the "Classic" period had since become overrun by invading tribes, such as the Aztecs. Like the invaders before them, the Spanish attempted to impose their religion and system of government upon the Maya, yet the Maya resisted, maintaining much of their ancient traditions even up until the present.
Today decendents of the Maya, and other indigenous groups throughout the Americas are still fighting to maintain their autonomy and their rights to a basic subsistence. The most famous of these groups is the "Zapatistas" in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, who have taken their name after one of the Mexican revolution's leaders, Emiliano Zapata. Zapata, in his time, fought against the federal government, who saw it 'necessary' to modernize the economy, which only worked to displace the largely "campesino" class from one of the only things that they could rely on for their well-being: their land.
Stop Here and Discuss:
1. Many people in Latin America feel that it is the indigenous people that are keeping everyone from enjoying the luxuries of the First World. Generally speaking, indigenous people all over the Americas have resisted the traps of modernization, preferring to live just as they have for centuries. What do you feel about this issue?
Other study guides:
Second Class Citizens
Destruction of Histories
Death by Diseases
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