The people of Mexquitic, a town in the state of San Luis Potosi in rural rtheastern Mexico, have redefined their sense of identity from Indian to Mexican over the last two centuries. In this ethgraphic and historical study of Mexquitic, David Frye explores why and how this transformation occurred, thereby increasing our understanding of the cultural creation of Indianness throughout the Americas. Frye focuses on the local embodiments of national and regional processes that have transformed rural Indians into modern Mexicans : parish priests, who always arrive with personal agendas in addition to their common ideological baggage; local haciendas; and local and regional representatives of royal and later of national power and control. He looks especially at the people of Mexquitic themselves, letting their own words describe the struggles they have endured while constructing their particular corner of Mexican national identity. This ethgraphy, the first for any town in rtheastern Mexico, adds substantially to our kwledge of the forces that have rendered Indians almost invisible to European-origin peoples from the fifteenth century up to today. It will be important reading for a wide audience t only in anthropology and Latin American studies but also among the growing body of general readers interested in the multicultural heritage of the Americas.
David Frye is Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Michigan.