Social and Economic History Of the Southwest
Please answer the following essay questions based on Keith B. Basso’s Wisdom Sits in Places.
Discuss how the Apache of Cibecue invest the landscape with meaning.
The Apache not only invest the land with meaning but they treat the land and the various aspects of it, that is the water, the rocks, the trees, as though they are separate living entities which must be recognized and paid attention to. Not only this, but the place names are important because there is the connection with the history of the Apache. Basso was having trouble getting the pronunciation of a place right and finally he was just going to give up and try and get it from the recordings that were made. This bothered his chief guide. Basso had said it didn’t matter, he would learn it later but the guide said it did matter and then it was explained in no uncertain terms that the names were made the way they were for definite reasons and that when the place name was said, today’s Apache was speaking the same words as their ancestors had. The old man said he wasn’t showing respect. For an anthropologist, this was quite a rude shock.
Once past this misunderstanding, the old guide tells Basso the story of how places like “Water Lies With Mud In An Open Container” came to be so named and he picks up a handful of wet mud to prove his story.
It is also explained that place names became the way different clans identified themselves. As Charles told it, the clans began to name themselves by, ” … where their women first planted corn.” This planting of corn by the women is also used to explain why clan lines are traced through the women.
Discuss how through language they commune with their ancestors:
The Apaches commune with their ancestors through place- names because their history is captured by these places. They are the means by which they remember the stories of their people and how their people came to this part of America and at the same time they are remembering the social and moral values that their ancestors held dear.
Discuss how they teach morals to their young.
Part way through the project to gather and map place names, the chief guide introduces his 12-year-old nephew and announces that he will be coming along on the rest of the trips. As Charles, the guide, relates the stories that explain their origins and supply their cultural backing, it quickly becomes obvious that each story here has something to do with people not behaving as they should and the trouble that caused. Basso writes:
For me, riveted and moved, the country takes on a different cast, a density of meaning — and with it a formidable strength — it did not have before. Here, there, and over there, I see, are places which proclaim by their presence and their names both the imminence of chaos and the preventive wisdom of moral norms. “Don’t make mistakes,” these places seem to say. “Think sensibly and do what is right. (Basso 28)
Something that is not spoken but seems obvious, is that the young man was along for at least a refresher course in the morality tales of his people.
What does it mean to “shoot arrows’ at someone?
Eventually, I ask Nick if he is ready to resume our work together. ‘Yes,’ he says, ‘but no more on names.’ What then? ‘Stories,’ is his reply. ‘All these places have stories. We shoot each other with them, like arrows.” (Basso 48)
The explanation of stories is that they are used to point out wrong behavior. The historical tales tend to be much shorter than sagas or myths because their purpose is to remind, “social delinquents,” as to the proper way to approach life, and such points are best made with “arrows” that move swiftly.
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca became one of the first Europeans to trek across what became Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Drawing on the reading of his Adventure in the Unknown Interior of America describe: (2pages)
The circumstances that led to his shipwreck:
The first sentence of this quote kind of says it all as far as where a lot of the problems that led to this incredible story of adventure and exploration start. The original commander was an idiot who had little regard for anybody but himself.
The red-bearded, one-eyed chief commander, or governor, Panfilo de Narvaez, was a grasping bungler. He lost an eye when he took an expedition from Cuba to Mexico in jealousy to arrest Cortez. … It was his stupid decision to separate his cavalry and infantry from their sustaining ships that sealed the doom of his expedition in Florida — as Cabeza forewarned in vain. (Nunez 9)
It is clear as you continue to read this incredible tale that the governor had no interest in taking care of anyone but himself. There were also many fierce storms that sunk ships, then the rafts and dugouts they tried to build, and killed people and horses.
His route of travel: The author offers an extensive description of his travel: of the route he took. It seems as though the real problem was they just kept traveling west always looking for something better than what they had found so far. If I read this correctly, they were also looking for Spanish settlements that were supposed to be to the west of where they started in Florida. It seemed that the big problem was there was just no clear idea of how much country there was between Florida and even Northern Mexico, let alone the parts of New Mexico and Arizona they found themselves in. The constant battles with the sea, the constant threat they felt themselves under from the natives, their constant need for water and food, all of it makes for an incredible story that makes Robinson Crusoe sound like a picnic in the park. It does seem however that once the party was down to just the last four, their relations with the Indians they met were much better.
The fate of his compatriots:
Vaca is painstaking in documenting that happened to his companions as he learned their fates. It must have been a terrible task to have to report that some of the men he had left Spain with had eaten the flesh of dead companions. Vaca does not flinch, however. As he discovers each man’s fate, he makes that information part of the record that he is keeping. He reports religiously to be sure that every single man is accounted for. Over the time of this ordeal, men are killed by drowning, by disease, by starvation and thirst and a relative few die as the results of the hostile actions of Native Americans.
What he saw and reported about indigenous life:
In the course of their long travels, Vaca makes note of every facet of native life he can manage to see and understand. He comments on how the Indians treat their children. He comments on their attitudes toward sickness and wellness. He describes how they share and how they care for one another. He describes kinship as he understands it. There are many descriptions of different mourning and funeral rituals. Vaca describes marriage behaviors. In one place he talks about the men not sleeping with their wives from the time it is found they are pregnant and for two years after. This would seem like a fairly intelligent form of birth control. He speaks continuously about the hunger and privation everyone they met seemed to have to deal with.
The Evangelization strategies Spanish missionaries employed to convert the Indians of the Southwest to Christianity relied on time-tested techniques for personal transformation, as well as methods for societal reform. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away
Bearing in mind the Franciscan model for personal transformation discussed in the book: (2 pages)
How exactly did the missionaries believe they would lead the Indians to God?
The Franciscans based the “conversion” of the Pueblo societies on their own conversion and “regeneration” experiences. I use quotations around these words because you can call the rape of Native American culture anything you want but rape it was. The Franciscans, to become members of the order, went through what today we would call brain-washing. I think indoctrination is the term used when speaking of the re-socialization of people that is used by cults. At any rate, the Franciscans used pain, isolation from old attachments, and as complete a re-ordering of thinking as could be achieved, to become worthy of their robe and cowl. The order used these same methods on the Indians to bring them to a God of Love. They also believed if they could turn the children against the parents this would not only save the children but would be a powerful witness to the parents of the power of the “padres.” If the records accessed for this book are being interpreted correctly, the priests came with an organized plan to disrupt the cultures they found and they used the Pueblo people’s culture to do it. They replaced cultural aspects with constructs of their own that were presented as being better.
Given the importance of gift giving in Pueblo society, how did the missionaries inject themselves and their gifts into native the calculus?
The missionaries had studied the Pueblo peoples and recognized the purpose of gift-giving was to establish lines of indebtedness between children and parents, between “juniors” and “seniors.” Gifts were also part of power structures between leaders of various groups. By giving gifts, the missionaries began to break the traditional ties and create ties to themselves as dispensers of all things good and punishment when they were defied. The Spaniards also deliberately changed role occupations and abolished the roles of hunters and protectors. Their program was deliberately designed to intimidate and humiliate the men of the Pueblos.
With the 1575 proclamation of the Ordinances of Discovery, the Spanish monarchy declared an end to colonial conquests of “Blood and Fire” in the Americas and its desire to expand the realm only through “Guerra Pacifica,” or “Peaceful War.” When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away” ( 2 pages)
What prompted this policy change?
What also differentiated the “Franciscan century” from the period of territorial conquest that preceded it was the promulgation of the 1573 Ordinances of Discovery, in which the king outlawed grand military expeditions such as those of Cortez and Coronado. “Discoveries are not to be called conquests,” the Ordinance stated. “Since we wish them to be carried out peacefully and charitably, we do not want the use of the term ‘conquest’ to offer any excuse for the employment of force or the causing of injury to the Indian.” Henceforth, only peaceful settlement directed by missionaries would be allowed into remote, hitherto uncivilized areas. (Gutiarrez 46)
The king of Spain, for whatever reasons, handed down the decree that there should not be any further military conquest in the new world. Perhaps he and his advisors realized that continued military operations would result in a general uprising and the complete annihilation of Spain in the New World. Turning the subjugation of the New World over to the Franciscans was considered more “civilized?”
Which colonial representatives and institutions became the main agents for this change?
Civilian governors and the Franciscan order where created as the colonizers of “New Spain.” Settlers, usually soldiers who had married, were awarded land for their services to God and King, and these settlers were organized around locations in cooperation with missions established by the Franciscans.
How were they organized?
The Franciscans and settlers organized into mission settlements whose purpose was to provide platforms for further outreach into uncontrolled Indian territory. The first kind of mission was organized as a permanent settlement designed for women and children to live there and be safe. The second form of mission was more of a frontier set-up and the third form was designed around the idea of a “new work” in effect, pushing the Spanish culture further into Native American lands.
Basso, Keith H. Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language among the Western Apache. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996.
Gutiarrez, Ramon A. Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846 Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.
Nunez, Alvar Cabeza de Vaca. Cabeza de Vaca’s Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America. Trans. Covey, Cyclone. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983.
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