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Native Wills from the Colonial Americas
Dead Giveaways in a New World
Edited by Mark Christensen and Jonathan Truitt
Native Wills from the Colonial Americas showcases new testamentary sources from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. It provides readers with translations and analyses of wills written in Spanish, Nahuatl, Yucatec Maya, K’iche’ Maya, Mixtec, and Wampanoag.
Divided into three thematic sections, the book provides insights and details that further our understanding of indigenous life in the Americas under colonial rule. Part One employs testaments to highlight the women of Native America and the ways their lives frequently challenged prescribed gender roles and statuses. Part Two uses testaments to illustrate the strategies of the elite in both negotiating and maintaining their power in a colonial, Spanish world. Part Three contributes to our understanding of the individual and collective nature of death by extracting from wills the importance of conversion, kinship, and societal ties in the colonial Americas. Capturing individual voices during dramatic periods of change, the documents presented here help us understand how cultures both adapt and persist.
Mark Christensen received his PhD from Penn State and is an assistant professor of history at Assumption College. He is the author of Nahua and Maya Catholicisms and Translated Christianities.
Jonathan Truitt received his PhD from Tulane University and is currently an associate professor of colonial Latin American and world history at Central Michigan University.
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
Introduction – Jonathan Truitt and Mark Christensen
PART 1: Women of Native America
1. Catalina de Agüero: A Mediating Life – Karen B. Graubart
2. Born Oceans Apart: The Joint Testament of a Chino Slave and His Mulata Wife - Tatiana Seijas
3. Revelations on Mexico Tenochtitlan: The 1648 Testament of Nicolasa Juana – Jonathan Truitt
4. Portrait of a Mixtec Woman Named 6-Crocodile – Kevin Terraciano
PART 2: Strategies of the Elite
5. Accessories to Inheritance: Nahua Pictorial Documents and Testaments in Early Colonial Central Mexico – Richard Conway
6. The Spoils of the Pech Conquistadors- Mark Christensen
7. “One or Two of My Living Words”: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century K’iche’ Testaments from Guatemala – Owen H. Jones
PART 3: The Individual and Collective Nature of Death
8. Knowledge Production, Identity Formation, and Mortuary Ritual in Colonial Native New England: A View from Native- Language Documents –
Kathleen J. Bragdon
9. The Testament of Gerónimo Flores, 1660: A Nahuatl-Language Writing from a Mixe Community in Colonial Mexico – Lisa Sousa
10. Disposing of the Body and Aiding the Soul: Death, Dying, and Testaments in Colonial Huexotzinco –
Erika R. Hosselkus
11. “Networks of Trust”: Debtors and Creditors in the Wills of Indian Nobles and Commoners in the Lima Valley, 1596–1607 –
Paul J. Charney
Afterword: The Irreplaceable Window: Reflections on the Study of Indigenous Wills –
Susan Kellogg and Matthew Restall
List of Contributors
Praise and Reviews:
“This collection offers a solid body of new scholarship on indigenous wills in the colonial Americas, as well as critical teaching tools for instructors in Latin American history and historical anthropology. For introductory courses, it provides access to transcribed primary source materials that offer key insights into indigenous social experiences during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. For advanced courses, the articles exemplify the diversity of interpretive approaches that scholars are currently employing to make sense of a crucial category of materials.”
—Nathaniel P. VanValkenburgh, assistant professor of anthropology, University of Vermont