May 23, 2010

"Most Mexicans are Indians"

Raising Arizona for brown people

By Steve Russell[A]s my editor predicted, several people took umbrage at my passing statement that the blood of Mexicans is primarily “American Indian.” She was right in that this detracted from my main point.

I must first observe that Mexico is in America.

Then the question becomes the ratio of Indio to Hispano. Did you think the conquistadores brought their wives? Most of the literature puts the ratio at 80/20, and you have to realize this is in the context of pervasive color prejudice, giving persons of Indio blood strong reasons to deny it as soon as it became deniable by a combination of distance and color. So the records would tend to understate mixed blood Indians trying to avoid discrimination and full blood Indians avoiding being counted entirely. We can say a lot of bad things about the Spanish, but they kept excellent records compared to the U.S.

The marriage records I’ve seen from Spanish colonial times list Indians not by “race” but by tribe.

Leaving aside written evidence, my time working with the United Farm Workers tells me that many agricultural workers (those workers of lowest status) who come from Mexico do not speak Spanish but rather their native languages. My work with the Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas brought me into contact with individuals for whom English was their third language, after KikapĂș and Spanish.

Most Mexicans are Indians, folks. They may deny it and we may deny it but that’s the fact. They are the offspring of the Natives and the colonists and, unlike in the U.S., the colonists were a tiny minority in the gene pool.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Arizona Laws Target the Indigenous and Hispanics Have Native Roots.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, that is fairly well-known. Urban Indian kids tend to run with the Mexican crowds too.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Mestizos. These people do not recognize themselves as Amerindian or Indigenous. No one else does for that matter too. In fact, Mestizos are one of the most racist "ethnic groups" out there(following the vile WNs--White Nationalists). Its fair to say that they are the "La Raza" within the Hispanic group. They really don't have anything to do with Indigenous issues pertaining to their demands. Instead, they(Meztizos) are the oppressors in Mexico. Whose governments is literally corrupt from top to bottom and incompetent at best. Its a travesty. Northern Indigenous governments are 4 times more civil, ethical, and stabilized as opposed to those who are the descendents of Spanish colonizers.


dmarks said...

I am aware of the Nazi-like "Aztlan" movement among some Latinos to create a racially pure ethnic homeland by any means necessary. But I did not know it was prevalent.

Those people are as scary as anything.

Melissa said...

Most Mexicans do not speak a second language. Most Mexicans are Indians in the same way I am an Indian (being certain that I have Indian ancestors, but knowing nothing about them). You usually complain about people like this such as Johnny Depp or Taylor Lautner, and clarify that these people cannot be considered Indians. Why do you have a double standard when it comes to Mexicans? (Actually, my personal position is that we are all part Indians and should have some limited claim to that part of our ancestry, but then be fair and apply the same standards to everybody.) If most Mexicans are Indians, then Johnny Depp is an Indian, too.
Oh, and no, it is not prevalent among us to want to eliminate other ethnicities, much less races; as all of us belong to many different races that wouldn't make any sense at all.

Rob said...

I put "Most Mexicans are Indians" in quotes to show it's Steve Russell's position, Melissa. Not mine.

Johnny Depp is something like 1/8 Cherokee. That's a far cry from a Mexican who may be 80% "Indio" genetically. The Mexican easily wins the "battle of the blood."

But I'm not changing my stance. I'm not claiming we should start classifying Latinos and Mexicans as Indians. I'm happy to call them Latinos, Mexicans, or whatever they want to call themselves.

The point is that is that many Mexican immigrants have indigenous roots. So does Johnny Depp, to some degree. We can acknowledge and discuss their roots without placing them in the "Indian" category.

I've done this before. For instance, when I said Mexican or Latino actors are a better choice than pure Caucasians to play Indian roles. I'm not claiming they're Indians; I'm claiming they're closer to their indigenous side than someone like Depp is.

Rob said...

Are you seriously claiming that people of European descent don't have any power in Mexico, Geno? What's your basis for that claim?

FYI, Mexico's mestizo population is too big to make any generalizations about it. Mestizos are the majority, not some oppressive minority.

Here are some facts about who rules in Mexico:

By the end of the 19th century, mestizos, who were discriminated against during three centuries of Spanish colonization, had become the largest population group in Mexico. Mestizos now account for about 60 percent of Mexicans.

Indigenous peoples account for 30 percent of the population, and people of European ancestry, primarily Spanish, account for about nine percent of the population.

Mestizos occupied a middle social stratum between whites and pure-blooded indigenous people.

[T]he prejudices of the caste system are still seen in Mexico and in the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. The mainstream media, film, and television industries, the government, managerial positions, financial institutions, and large-acreage latifundios are still dominated by a numerically small minority of blancos (whites).

After an experiment lasting nearly 500 years in Latin America, intermarriage has utterly failed to eliminate racial inequality. Mestizo nations like Mexico and mulatto nations like Brazil are bywords for vast concentrations of wealth among the white ruling class contrasted with extreme poverty among the darkest citizens. In fact, in Mexico racial segregation is worsening.

Mexicans don't talk much about race due to the Mexican government's national ideology that We Are All Mestizos. By insisting upon this, the intractable problems of the horrendously exploited pure Indians of the deep South can be obfuscated, while the fact that most of the extremely wealthy are pure white or near white can be obscured.

Melissa said...

Oops. I guess I just read the title and went off in an angry rant (particularly after reading Geno's comment) without noticing the "By Steve Russell" part.
So I guess we mostly agree, then.

ced said...

same thing happens in north african countries... for instance in morroco (maybe not the worst), the more you are genetically closely related to dark skinned saharian or subsaharian people, the lower you are in the social ladder (hope you'll understand this raw fr -> en translation)... and the closer you are related to arabian "conquistadors" the higher you are...
because closely arabian related people in north african are very light skinned
not related to your post but interresting

Anonymous said...

My mother is like 70-80% amerindian and she's mexican. She's always taught me to be proud of my roots, taught me about history, traditions and such, especially the amerindian one. She doesn's speak any native language though, neither did my grandmother or my great-grandfather (as far as I can remember),..etc. (all of whom were even more amerindian than my mother is). What I'm trying to say is, she's always been proud and not ashamed in the least to call herself amerindian/indigenous/native and she made me aware that this is not the norm. In Mexico being called "indio" for example, is an insult. Then again, most mexicans are proud of their amerindian heritage (if they've forgotten their specific roots)but because it's a part of "meztizaje". They wouldn't call themselves anything other than "mestizo" though.
In this light, I'm grateful for what my mother has taught me.

Anonymous said...

Most Spaniards look nothing like a Mexican.

It's simple math. Mexicans are usually pure Indian.

In about one-hundred years or less they will want to be called something else. The cycle/history repeats itself. This name-changing is an attempt to run away from their "great" history.

Anonymous said...

Not all meztisos are oppressors.Thats luke saying all whites are KKK members and opress others.