Corn Is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a by Alan R. Sandstrom

By Alan R. Sandstrom

"Drawing upon 20 years of analysis between Nahua-speaking peoples of Mexico's northern Veracruz, Sandstrom presents the most special and compelling photos to be had of recent Mexican Indians". -- selection.

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Extra resources for Corn Is Our Blood: Culture and Ethnic Identity in a Contemporary Aztec Indian Village

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As a longtime resident in the village, I was invited to contribute to the effort and to document the ritual events. In this chapter, I will discuss the logic of the pilgrimage in the context of contemporary Nahua religion and worldview. In particular, I would like to offer an interpretation of how Nahua views of caves, pyramids, and sacred mountains offer insight into indigenous thought in the Mesoamerica culture area. I make the case that contemporary beliefs and prac- 36 Central Mexico tices of the Nahua and other Native American groups provide valuable information by which we can better understand enigmatic aspects of the rich archaeological and ethnohistorical record of Mesoamerica (Heyden 1981:28; see Stone 1995:11–12, for a discussion of cultural continuity in Mesoamerica).

Romero was also a curandero, a healer, as his daughter Josefina would become. Curing was done by first sprinkling holy water—brought from the nearby Saint Augustine Church—on the floor of the cave, then by sweeping the floor; after this, cleansing ceremonies, limpias, were performed with different herbs and flowers. One of the major ceremonies carried out in the cave was the ritual dance, the Concheros. This dance, in which men, women, and children participate, and which supposedly is reminiscent of Aztec rites, is dedicated both to religion and to pleasure and is performed along semimilitary lines, with strict control over the participants.

Brujos, or sorcerers, can ‘‘steal the soul’’ of individuals and perform other diabolical acts, but if the persons who have ordered these fail to cover the cost of the offerings and the brujo’s work in the cave, the maleficio—the evil act or spell—has no effect (Aramoni Burguete 1990:157). The Mixe area, like most of Mexico, is dotted with caves, all of which play a significant role in religion and myth. They are used for curing and other rituals. The presence of archaeological objects indicates long, continued use.

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