Wednesday, March 22, 2017

on monday i was a sub at a new mexico history class. now that's a little frustrating for me, because i love new mexico history, and basically kids refuse to learn anything from a sub, until i figure out how to get through to them. they see a sub, and they figure, it's vay-cay time. in this particular class, though, there were lots of books, and the teacher had left a lot of stuff for them to do. it was like they had some huge worksheet to finish, and all i had to do was sit there.

so i opened this book, which was called nuevo mexico, though when i wrote this i'd lost the details, like the author's name. seems to me the author was joe sando, or something like that. well, deep in that book was a story of the language families, and specifically, the language families of the occupants of the pueblos.

now when i asked the students, they all knew about the pueblos. there are nineteen of them today. they were there when the spaniards arrived, in the late 1500's. there was a rebellion against the spaniards (the first american revolution, one book called it) where they actually removed the spanish control over their lives. but this book made a claim about the language families of the pueblo people. it claimed that there were three basic families. the first was the tiwa/tewa/towa, the biggest one, responsible for maybe ten or eleven of the modern pueblos, and distantly related to navajo and other well known families of languages. the second was keresan, the language of about five or six of the pueblos, and the last one, zuni (i think?), residents of a single pueblo, unrelated to the others and possibly from mexico. but of the keresan, he (the author) said that he personally felt they were from the caribbean - he had proof based on their words for north, east, south and west, and he had spent considerable time trying to prove it. he further said that these people had stopped in florida on their way out, whereupon they had picked up the habit of naming the leader's (shell-covered) abode as the "white house."

i was astounded by this, and the following day, i was a sub at another new mexico history class, this one in the middle school. once again students were resistant to learning anything from a sub. but hey, i told them, pay attention. they were studying the period of time when our part of new mexico was an independent nation (the republic of texas) and the treaty of guadalupe hidalgo, in which the usa, which badly wanted to expand westward and increase its land, promised the spanish settlers of albuquerque (who had been there, speaking spanish, for about 250 years) that they could continue to speak spanish and live in spanish, vote and be full citizens, if they chose to join the us. the spanish wanted to - they didn't care much for mexican rule, and didn't see that the anglos changed much about their lives, so they agreed. little did they know of course that trump would come along and claim that they were all rapists, but that's another story. at this time, the time of guadalupe hidalgo, everyone thought it was a win-win, and there was fifteen million bucks involved too, if i'm not mistaken. or maybe it was a hundred fifty.

well anyway i told this class about this book that claimed the keresan people were from the caribbean. as far as i'm concerned the author of that book was a genuine historian, though he may have been wrong about the keresan, who knows about the ancient people? but i find his theory fascinating for several reasons.

first is that if the ancient people crossed from the caribbean islands to new mexico, then my guess is that they followed the river, namely the rio grande. but the question is whether they knew where they were going or not. and, did they know there were people where they were going? had they had visitors that told them, that at the end of the rio grande, was a high valley where people could settle and grow stuff? or did they just take off in river boats not knowing what they would find? and did they have enough to live on, up through big bend, el paso, las cruces, t or c, the long haul up to the new pueblo?

all good questions worthy of further research. just now i was forced to get up out of my chair, whereupon i found the little scrap of paper i'd written some of this stuff on. so i now know the following: this came from the book nuevo mexico, p. 28; the kerasan pueblos were acoma, laguna, santa ana, san felipe, santo domingo, zia and cochiti (notice that zia is the one with the north-east-south-west symbol on the new mexico license plate; it's also featured in the new mexico pledge, perfect friendship among all peoples, that my students recite every morning). also, here are some of the keresan expressions: hane (east), pune (west), crowa (south), tipani (north). hana ha'i (when we were in the east)...

at the end of the chapter, there were three references. one was by sando himself, sando and agoyo (2005), but was about popay, the leader of the first american revolution, by the residents of the pueblos against the spanish. another was marder (2005) - indians of the americas. and the last was graham (1981), ancient mesoamerica. so begins my research. he could have been speaking off the cuff - but this was a textbook, and my guess is that if he had done all this research he had put it somewhere. not necessarily in the book about popay - the others had articles by other experts as well. such books are golden and are available at local libraries.

the ancient people, if they didn't like one continent, they just set out for another.


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