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The Aztecs at Independence

Nahua Culture Makers in Central Mexico, 1799–1832

Miriam Melton-Villanueva

Nahuatl-speaking women and men left last wills in their own tongue during an era when the written tradition of their language was generally assumed to have ended. Describing their world in testaments clustered around epidemic cycles, they responded to profound changes in population, land use, and local governance with astonishing vibrancy.

The Aztecs at Independence offers the first internal ethnographic view of these central Mexican indigenous communities in the critical transitional time of Independence. Miriam Melton-Villanueva uses previously unknown Nahuatl-language sources—primarily last wills and testaments—to provide a comprehensive understanding of indigenous societies during the transition from colonial to postcolonial times. The book describes the cultural life of people now called Nahuas or Mexicas in the nineteenth century—based on their own words, their own written records. The book uses previously unknown, unstudied, and untranslated indigenous texts to bring Nahua society into history, fleshing out glimpses of daily life in the early nineteenth century. Thus, The Aztecs at Independence describes life at the most local level: Nahua lineages of ritual and writing, guilds and societies, the people that take turns administering festivals and attending to the last wishes of the dying.

Interwoven with personal stories and memory, The Aztecs at Independence invites a general audience along on a scholarly journey, where readers are asked to imagine Nahua concepts and their contemporary meanings that give light to modern problems.

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Aztlán Arizona

Mexican American Educational Empowerment, 1968–1978

Darius V. Echeverría

Aztlán Arizona is a history of the Chicano Movement in Arizona in the 1960s and 1970s. Focusing on community and student activism in Phoenix and Tucson, Darius V. Echeverría ties the Arizona events to the larger Chicano and civil rights movements against the backdrop of broad societal shifts that occurred throughout the country. Arizona’s unique role in the movement came from its (public) schools, which were the primary source of Chicano activism against the inequities in the judicial, social, economic, medical, political, and educational arenas.
    The word Aztlán, originally meaning the legendary ancestral home of the Nahua peoples of Mesoamerica, was adopted as a symbol of independence by Chicano/a activists during the movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  In an era when poverty, prejudice, and considerable oppositional forces blighted the lives of roughly one-fifth of Arizonans, the author argues that understanding those societal realities is essential to defining the rise and power of the Chicano Movement.
    The book illustrates how Mexican American communities fostered a togetherness that ultimately modified larger Arizona society by revamping the educational history of the region. The concluding chapter outlines key Mexican American individuals and organizations that became politically active in order to address Chicano educational concerns. This Chicano unity, reflected in student, parent, and community leadership organizations, helped break barriers, dispel the Mexican American inferiority concept, and create educational change that benefited all Arizonans.
    No other scholar has examined the emergence of Chicano Movement politics and its related school reform efforts in Arizona. Echeverría’s thorough research, rich in scope and interpretation, is coupled with detailed and exact endnotes. The book helps readers understand the issues surrounding the Chicano Movement educational reform and ethnic identity. Equally important, the author shows how residual effects of these dynamics are still pertinent today in places such as Tucson.

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Baja California Missions

In the Footsteps of the Padres

David Burckhalter and Mina Sedgwick

Bathed in desert light and shadow, rising up from the earth in improbable, faraway places, stand eight original Spanish missions on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Built of stone by Roman Catholic priests and indigenous laborers in the eighteenth century, these stunning missions dominate the landscape around them. Baja California Missions: In the Footsteps of the Padres is a beautiful and informative book about the eight monumental Spanish colonial churches, buildings seldom seen by those familiar with the missions of California, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico. 

With gorgeous photographs of the architecture and religious art, and supported by a concise history that outlines the peninsula’s exploration and colonization by Roman Catholic priests, Baja California Missions excels as a book of photography and history. It promises adventure for readers at home, as well as for travelers ready to explore the churches in person. 

The eight Spanish colonial stone churches of Baja California endure as the only intact originals of 34 missions built by the padres during the peninsula’s colonization. Due to structural renovations and restorations of the artwork undertaken over the last 30 years, the renowned mission churches have become sources of pride to the citizens of Baja California. Travelers are invited to visit at any time, especially during patron saint day celebrations. 

As a guide, Baja California Missions is fully up to date, with directions for navigating Baja’s paved highways and desert and mountain roads. The mission sites are pinpointed on a topographic roadmap of the peninsula. A church floor plan is provided to accompany a walk-through tour for each church interior. The lovely eighteenth-century oil paintings and wooden statues that grace the church altars are also identified and described.

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Barrio Dreams

Selected Plays

Silviana Wood; Edited by Norma E. Cantú and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz

During the advent of Chicano teatro, dozens of groups sprang up across the country in Chicano/a communities. Since then, teatristas have been leading voices in the creation and production of plays touching minds and hearts that galvanize audiences to action.

Barrio Dreams is the first book to collect the work of one of Arizona’s foremost teatristas, playwright Silviana Wood. During her decades-long involvement in theater, Wood forged a reputation as a playwright, actor, director, and activist. Her works form a testimonio of Chicana life, steeped in art, politics, and the borderlands. Wood’s plays challenge, question, and incite women to consider their lot in life. She ruptures stereotypes and raises awareness of social issues via humor and with an emphasis on the use of the physical body on stage.

The play Una vez, en un barrio de sueños . . . offers a glimpse into familiar terrain—the barrio and its dwellers—in three actos. In Amor de hija, a fraught mother-daughter relationship in contemporary working-class Arizona is dealt an additional blow as the family faces Alzheimer’s disease. In the tragedy A Drunkard’s Tale of Melted Wings and Memories, and in the trilingual (Spanish, English, and Yaqui) tragicomedy Yo, Casimiro Flores, characters love, live, die, travel through time and space, and visit the afterlife. And in Anhelos por Oaxaca, a grandfather travels back in time through flashbacks, as he and his grandson travel through homelands from Arizona to Oaxaca.

Part of Wood’s genius is the way she portrays life in what Gloria Anzaldúa called “el mundo zurdo,” that space inhabited by the people of color, the poor, the female, and the outsiders. It is a place for the atravesados, the odd, the different, those who do not fit the mainstream. The people who inhabit Wood’s plays are common folk—janitors, mothers, grandmothers, and teenagers—hardworking people who, in one way or another, have made their way in life and who embody life in the barrio.
 

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Barry Goldwater and the Remaking of the American Political Landscape

Edited by Elizabeth Tandy Shermer

Nearly four million Americans worked on Barry Goldwater’s behalf in the presidential election of 1964. These citizens were as dedicated to their cause as those who fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Arguably, the conservative agenda that began with Goldwater has had effects on American politics and society as profound and far reaching as the liberalism of the 1960s. According to the essays in this volume, it’s high time for a reconsideration of Barry Goldwater’s legacy.
Since Goldwater’s death in 1998, politicians, pundits, and academics have been assessing his achievements and his shortcomings. The twelve essays in this volume thoroughly examine the life, times, and impact of “Mr. Conservative.” Scrutinizing the transformation of a Phoenix department store owner into a politician, de facto political philosopher, and five-time US senator, contributors highlight the importance of power, showcasing the relationship between the nascent conservative movement’s cadre of elite businessmen, newsmen, and intellectuals and their followers at the grassroots—or sagebrush—level.
Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory in 1909, was deeply influenced by his Western upbringing. With his appearance on the national stage in 1964, he not only articulated a new brand of conservatism but gave a voice to many Americans who were not enamored with the social and political changes of the era. He may have lost the battle for the presidency, but he energized a coalition of journalists, publishers, women’s groups, and Southerners to band together in a movement that reshaped the nation.
Nearly four million Americans worked on Barry Goldwater’s behalf in the presidential election of 1964. These citizens were as dedicated to their cause as those who fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Arguably, the conservative agenda that began with Goldwater has had effects on American politics and society as profound and far reaching as the liberalism of the 1960s. According to the essays in this volume, it’s high time for a reconsideration of Barry Goldwater’s legacy.
Since Goldwater’s death in 1998, politicians, pundits, and academics have been assessing his achievements and his shortcomings. The twelve essays in this volume thoroughly examine the life, times, and impact of “Mr. Conservative.” Scrutinizing the transformation of a Phoenix department store owner into a politician, de facto political philosopher, and five-time US senator, contributors highlight the importance of power, showcasing the relationship between the nascent conservative movement’s cadre of elite businessmen, newsmen, and intellectuals and their followers at the grassroots—or sagebrush—level.
Goldwater, who was born in the Arizona Territory in 1909, was deeply influenced by his Western upbringing. With his appearance on the national stage in 1964, he not only articulated a new brand of conservatism but gave a voice to many Americans who were not enamored with the social and political changes of the era. He may have lost the battle for the presidency, but he energized a coalition of journalists, publishers, women’s groups, and Southerners to band together in a movement that reshaped the nation.

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Battle Against Extinction

Native Fish Management in the American West

Edited by W. L. Minckley and James E. Deacon; Foreword by Stewart L. Udall

In 1962 the Green River was poisoned and its native fishes killed so that the new Flaming Gorge Reservoir could be stocked with non-native game fishes for sportsmen. This incident was representative of water management in the West, where dams and other projects have been built to serve human needs without consideration for the effects of water diversion or depletion on the ecosystem. Indeed, it took a Supreme Court decision in 1976 to save Devils Hole pupfish from habitat destruction at the hands of developers.
 
Nearly a third of the native fish fauna of North America lives in the arid West; this book traces their decline toward extinction as a result of human interference and the threat to their genetic diversity posed by decreases in their populations. What can be done to slow or end this tragedy? As the most comprehensive treatment ever attempted on the subject, Battle Against Extinction shows how conservation efforts have been or can be used to reverse these trends.
 
In covering fishes in arid lands west of the Mississippi Valley, the contributors provide a species-by-species appraisal of their status and potential for recovery, bringing together in one volume nearly all of the scattered literature on western fishes to produce a monumental work in conservation biology. They also ponder ethical considerations related to the issue, ask why conservation efforts have not proceeded at a proper pace, and suggest how native fish protection relates to other aspects of biodiversity planetwide. Their insights will allow scientific and public agencies to evaluate future management of these animal populations and will offer additional guidance for those active in water rights and conservation biology.

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A Beautiful, Cruel Country

Eva Antonia Wilbur-Cruce

Arizona's Arivaca Valley lies only a short distance from the Mexican border and is a rugged land in which to put down stakes. When Arizona Territory was America's last frontier, this area was homesteaded by Anglo and Mexican settlers alike, who often displaced the Indian population that had lived there for centuries. This frontier way of life, which prevailed as recently as the beginning of the twentieth century, is now recollected in vivid detail by an octogenarian who spent her girlhood in this beautiful, cruel country. Eva Antonia Wilbur inherited a unique affinity for the land. Granddaughter of a Harvard-educated physician who came to the Territory in the 1860s, she was the firstborn child of a Mexican mother and Anglo father who instilled in her an appreciation for both cultures. Little Toña learned firsthand the responsibilities of ranching—an education usually reserved for boys—and also experienced the racial hostility that occurred during those final years before the Papago Indians were confined to a reservation. Begun as a reminiscence to tell younger family members about their "rawhide tough and lonely" life at the turn of the century, Mrs. Wilbur-Cruce's book is rich with imagery and dialogue that brings the Arivaca area to life. Her story is built around the annual cycle of ranch life—its spring and fall round-ups, planting and harvesting—and features a cavalcade of border characters, anecdotes about folk medicine, and recollections of events that were most meaningful in a young girl's life. Her account constitutes a valuable primary source from a region about which nothing similar has been previously published, while the richness of her story creates a work of literature that will appeal to readers of all ages.

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Becoming Brothertown

Native American Ethnogenesis and Endurance in the Modern World

Craig N. Cipolla

Histories of New England typically frame the region’s Indigenous populations in terms of effects felt from European colonialism: the ravages of epidemics and warfare, the restrictions of reservation life, and the influences of European-introduced ideas, customs, and materials. Much less attention is given to how Algonquian peoples actively used and transformed European things, endured imposed hardships, and negotiated their own identities. In Becoming Brothertown, Craig N. Cipolla searches for a deeper understanding of Native American history.
    Covering the eighteenth century to the present, the book explores the emergence of the Brothertown Indians, a "new" community of Native peoples formed in direct response to colonialism and guided by the vision of Samson Occom, a Mohegan Indian and ordained Presbyterian minister. Breaking away from their home settlements of coastal New England during the late eighteenth century, members of various tribes migrated to Oneida Country in central New York State in hopes of escaping East Coast land politics and the corrupting influences of colonial culture. In the nineteenth century, the new community relocated once again, this time to present-day Wisconsin, where the Brothertown Indian Nation remains centered today.
    Cipolla combines historical archaeology, gravestone studies, and discourse analysis to tell the story of the Brothertown Indians. The book develops a pragmatic approach to the study of colonialism while adding an archaeological perspective on Brothertown history, filling a crucial gap in the regional archaeological literature.

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Bedouin Ethnobotany

By James P. Mandaville

A Bedouin asking a fellow tribesman about grazing conditions in other parts of the country says first simply, “Fih hayah?” or “Is there life?” A desert Arab’s knowledge of the sparse vegetation is tied directly to his life and livelihood.

Bedouin Ethnobotany offers the first detailed study of plant uses among the Najdi Arabic–speaking tribal peoples of eastern Saudi Arabia. It also makes a major contribution to the larger project of ethnobotany by describing aspects of a nomadic peoples’ conceptual relationships with the plants of their homeland.

The modern theoretical basis for studies of the folk classification and nomenclature of plants was developed from accounts of peoples who were small-scale agriculturists and, to a lesser extent, hunter-gatherers. This book fills a major gap by extending such study into the world of the nomadic pastoralist and exploring the extent to which these patterns are valid for another major subsistence type. James P. Mandaville, an Arabic speaker who lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, focuses first on the role of plants in Bedouin life, explaining their uses for livestock forage, firewood, medicinals, food, and dyestuffs, and examining other practical purposes. He then explicates the conceptual and linguistic aspects of his subject, applying the theory developed by Brent Berlin and others to a previously unstudied population. Mandaville also looks at the long history of Bedouin plant nomenclature, finding that very little has changed among the names and classifications in nearly eleven centuries.

This volume includes a CD-ROM featuring more than 340 color images of the people, the terrain, and nearly all of the plants mentioned in the text as well as an audio file of a traditional Bedouin song and its translation and analysis.

An essential volume for anyone interested in the interaction between human culture and plant life, Bedouin Ethnobotany will stand as a definitive source for years to come.

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Before Kukulkán

Bioarchaeology of Maya Life, Death, and Identity at Classic Period Yaxuná

Vera Tiesler, Andrea Cucina, Travis W. Stanton, and David A. Freidel; Foreword by Traci Ardren

This volume illuminates human lifeways in the northern Maya lowlands prior to the rise of Chichén Itzá. This period and area have been poorly understood on their own terms, obscured by scholarly focus on the central lowland Maya kingdoms. Before Kukulkán is anchored in three decades of interdisciplinary research at the Classic Maya capital of Yaxuná, located at a contentious crossroads of the northern Maya lowlands.

Using bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, and culturally sensitive mainstream archaeology, the authors create an in-depth regional understanding while also laying out broader ways of learning about the Maya past. Part one examines ancient lifeways among the Maya at Yaxuná, while part two explores different meanings of dying and cycling at the settlement and beyond—ancestral practices, royal entombment and desecration, and human sacrifice. The authors close with a discussion of the last years of occupation at Yaxuná and the role of Chichén Itzá in the abandonment of this urban center.

Before Kukulkán provides a cohesive synthesis of the evolving roles and collective identities of locals and foreigners at the settlement and their involvement in the region’s trajectory. Theoretically informed and contextualized discussions offer unique glimpses of everyday life and death in the socially fluid Maya city. These findings, in conjunction with other documented series of skeletal remains from this region, provide a nuanced picture of the social and biocultural dynamics that operated successfully for centuries before the arrival of the Itzá.
 

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