Academic journal article Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Tribal Synthesis: Piros, Mansos, and Tiwas through history./Synthese Tribale: Les Piros, Les Mansos et Les Tiwas a Travers L'histoire

Academic journal article Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Tribal Synthesis: Piros, Mansos, and Tiwas through history./Synthese Tribale: Les Piros, Les Mansos et Les Tiwas a Travers L'histoire

Article excerpt

The marriage of Andrew and Donna Roybal in the Stanford University Memorial Church in 2003 was the culmination of a remarkable history of ethnic survival. (1) Members of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa (PMT) tribe, and their anthropologist, rode Greyhound buses from New Mexico and caught aeroplane flights to California to attend the wedding in the luxurious Euro-American-style church in the heart of one of the wealthiest areas in the world. A Lutheran priest presided alongside the tribal cacique (spiritual leader), who burned sage and gave prayers to Mother Earth and the Great Spirit to sanctify the marriage. The tribal War Captains and tribal women served as best men and matrons of honour, respectively. On one side of the church aisle, Donna's traditional Chinese relatives from Taiwan huddled together. The other side of the aisle consisted of Native American tribal members and their guests. Both groups participated fully in the indigenous blessing of the couple by blowing tobacco smoke and sprinkling blue corn on their faces and shoulders.

Five hundred years before, the Piros, Mansos, and Tiwas were distinct aboriginal groups residing in what was to become northern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. Prior to the sixteenth century coming of the Europeans, the Piros and Tiwas (spelled Tiguas per Spanish orthography) lived as corn-farming villagers along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico (Marshall & Walt 1984: 135-234; Riley 1995). Mansos survived as hunters and gatherers or resided in small rancherias (villages) along the Rio Grande, near what is today El Paso, and in the Mesilla Valley, presently Las Cruces, New Mexico (Beckett & Corbett 1992a). In the early sixteenth century Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to encounter Native Americans in the El Paso area, followed by Beltran and Espejo in 1582 (Martinez 2000: 6). In 1598 Spaniards and other colonists led by Juan de Onate met Manso people along the banks of the Rio Grande in the region the Spanish would take over and call 'El Paso del Norte' (Hammond & Rey 1953: 315).

In the 1680s and 1690s, after the Spanish conquest, a contingent of Piros and Tiwas relocated to the El Paso area during the uprising known as the Pueblo Revolt (Hackett 1942; Marshall 1984: 237; Weber 1999). In the El Paso area the three groups lived in and around Spanish missions, although some Mansos chose to remain free in the deserts and mountains, and groups of Mansos rebelled against Spanish rule on several occasions (Hughes 1914: 295-392). Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Piros, Mansos, and Tiwas intermarried with each other as well as with other native peoples and people of European descent (Houser 1996). Yet the various mission Indian communities retained distinct identifications with particular indigenous groups even as their populations grew more mixed and their customs blended to form a kind of generalized El Paso Indian culture (Bandelier 1890: 247).

After independence from Spain in the nineteenth century, the various El Paso area native communities continued to interact and intermarry and to adopt technologies and practices from the Mexican population of the region (Houser 1996). Changes also came from the shifting patterns of the Rio Grande, which periodically flooded the region, destroyed churches and towns, and created new islands and riverine boundaries between communities. The process of inter-tribal mestizaje (merging of cultures and groups) and cultural subsumption by more powerful ethnic groups as well as the constant shifting of nation-state boundaries continued in the mid-nineteenth century with the expansion of Texas and the US-Mexico War (Timmons 1990).

During the middle to late 1800s, 'Anglo' settlers and an emerging Anglo-American agro-industrial capitalist system transformed the local political economy. Anglos usurped Indian land and further reduced the spatial and cultural freedom of indigenous people while contributing new cultural elements and language to an already diverse regional culture (Mitchell 2005). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.