Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987

By Charles R. Hale | Go to book overview

2
Nation Building, Resistance, and Hegemony: Historical Roots of Ethnic Conflict, 1894-1960

We will be in the hands of a government and people who have not the slightest interests, sympathy, or good feeling for the inhabitants of the Mosquito Reservation; and as our manners, customs, religion, laws and language are not in accord, there can never be a unity. We most respectfully beg . . . your Majesty . . . to take back under your protection the Mosquito nation and people, so that we may become a people of your Majesty's Empire

--Petition to Queen Victoria, submitted by residents of Bluefields, March 8, 1894

The national conscience should also be satisfied, because here [we have] a great mission to fulfill. . . . There must be commenced at once the slow but efficacious work of assimilating the indigenous element, and rendering it one of the sources of strength of the country.

-- Rigoberto Cabezas, governor of the newly annexed Mosquito Reserve, January 1, 1895

RIGOBERTO CABEZAS LED the Nicaraguan campaign of early 1894 to annex the Mosquito Reserve. Within days of military occupation, residents of Bluefields and surrounding communities had registered vigorous protest and called on foreign powers to protect them. But their petitions and their later more militant resistance were to little avail. By December of that year the region had become part of Nicaraguan national territory. Cabezas was named its first governor. His words expressed frank acknowledgment that Indians stood outside the nation, complete certainty that they belonged inside, and confidence (although with a hint of doubt) that they soon would make the transition. The petitioners, by contrast, let it be known how painful and contested this transition would be.

Though laced with rhetoric, these two statements point to a central theme in the last century of Atlantic Coast political history. An ex-

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Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents xi
  • Figure, Tables, and Maps xiii
  • Note to the Reader xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Ethnicity and the State in Revolutionary Nicaragua 14
  • 2 - Nation Building, Resistance, and Hegemony: Historical Roots of Ethnic Conflict, 1894-1960 37
  • 3 - Miskitu Narratives of History, Politics, and Identity 60
  • Conclusions 86
  • 4 - Miskitu Indians in the Discourse of Revolutionary Nationalism 87
  • Conclusions 113
  • 5 - From Quiescence to Mobilization, 1960-81 116
  • 6 - Explaining Miskitu-Sandinista Conflict, 1981-85 141
  • 7 - Community Politics in Transition to Autonomy, 1985-87 166
  • Epilogue 196
  • 8 - Engaging Contradictions 198
  • Appendixes 221
  • Reference Matter 243
  • Notes 245
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 291
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