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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Once Again, Indigenous Census Quandary

Once Again, Indigenous Census Quandary


“Pareces que tienes el nopal en la frente y el elote entre los dientes — Looks like you have a cactus on your forehead and corn stuck between your teeth.”

I first heard this common Mexican expression or dicho from a Maya friend of mine many years ago. The expression is usually told to people who are undeniably native, but usually claim to be Spanish/European. This is usually aimed at peoples whose origins are from Mexico/Central America or other peoples generally from the Andean regions of South America where there is undeniable mixture, but where the Indigenous ancestry or blood still greatly predominates. Despite this, many are accustomed to seeing themselves as “mestizos” or racially mixed.

In academic jargon, this denial of Indigenous ancestry translates to: colonized and/or de-Indigenized. Probably an even better term is: “reduced” for these primarily Indigenous-based peoples (The history and reality of African peoples in these same regions is both similar and different post-1492 and the subject of a future column).

Sure, it is ancient history, though directly relevant to today, especially when the many millions of “mestizos” attempt to fill out the census. And in this case, the time of the US 2020 Census is now upon us (I received mine on Friday March 13). FOR THE REST OF THE COLUMN, PLEASE GO TO:

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