The unmistakable image on the Mexican flag has left an indelible mark on our understanding of the region’s past. The eagle perched on top of a cactus, devouring a serpent has become enshrined as a national symbol and rallying point for identity in Mexico, the US Southwest, and beyond.
However, was the triad of images of the eagle, cactus, and snake always central to the way the Mexica thought of themselves? During my dissertation, I discovered that many different native representations exist of the foundational moment of Tenochtitlan, when the Mexica elders spied the eagle on a cactus. The more I learned, the more I saw that our present understanding of the native past has kept us from learning more about what matters; that is native views of their own history.
In May of this year (2018) I gave a lecture at Pasadena City College on this very topic. Here is a recorded version on YouTube
I would love to hear what you think! Have you ever seen examples of how our present cultural baggage clouds our ability to learn from native sources?