Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Those Ruins Aren't Aztec
The lessons of what happened to much Indian culture and so many people is beyond sad, so it was great to see thriving and healthy Indian populations in many areas today. These aren't just the people who were once there- they are still there- alive and well. We did see some rural areas of poverty of course, and that typically isn't a pretty scene. But what really struck me were the large school groups in New Mexico museums- full of healthy and beautiful Native American kids and being led by mostly Native American teachers who (unlike many school teachers) were respectful with the kids, and actually seemed to be enjoying their time sharing the world with them. I love kids, but am not usually very excited to have our museum time interrupted by school groups. These were happy scenes though, and those are what stuck with me- resilient and strong people who valued their young ones.
Anyway, I guess at one time, some folks who didn't know much about the native people called them Aztec, and gave the name to the nearest town. By the time they realized that these were not Aztec Ruins and that the people who had lived there were not Aztec either, I guess everyone was used to the name, so they just kept it. I found that a little odd and somewhat insulting to the ancestral people whose homes those actually were. As far as I know, the federal government is not very likely to change the name of the monument any time soon, and I didn't seen any obvious opposing protests about it either. I wonder though if other people are bothered by this as well?
We came away feeling a number of things- like there is a lot to gain from learning about both the wisdom and the mistakes of the people who came before us, feeling grateful for people who are passionate about what they do, and feeling like it's really nice to call people by the correct name if at all possible.