Photographer's Note

Sometimes people wonder what might have been the destiny of the pre-Colombian American Indians. We can always use the cliché "they all disappeared under the oppression of the nasty Europeans that went there to suck their wealth". Well, it seems that history is not that simple.

One thing is certain: the Indian woman reading the newspaper in the Madrid Subway (maybe now a Spanish citizen) is certainly a descendant of people that C. Columbus met some centuries ago.

There were certainly some kinds of colonization that almost wiped native Americans out of wide regions of the continent, and we have a glimpse of that on some western movies like "Dances with wolves".

But not always things were like that. One interesting case study is the Mexico colonization. It's known that Cortez was helped by natives to overthrow the dominant Aztec class. At that time they were performing thousands of human sacrifices per year in Tenochtitlán (Mexico city). With their deposition these practices ceased.

A few years later the relations between the natives and the "conquistadores" grew less friendly: the governor who succeeded to Cortez, Nuño de Guzmán, started exploring the Indians to his benefit, without the knowing of the Spanish crown.

It was bishop D. Juan de Zumárraga who had been nominated by the crown "Protector of the Indians" that eventually managed to break the blackout and inform Spain of the abuses that were taking place. This caused the immediate substitution of the governor and his council by Sebastián Ramirez de Fuenleal, and the improvement of the relations with the indians.

Lots of them died from the illnesses unknown to them, which had been brought by Europeans. Nevertheless, if you go to Latin America you can find the descendants of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas still alive and kicking. I love their tenderness and joy of living.

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Additional Photos by Francisco Brito (Francisco_Brito) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 72 W: 33 N: 79] (219)
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