WVU historian to give readingIn "In the Lands of Fire and Sun: Huichol Resistance and Accommodation, 1723-1930" (University of Nebraska Press, May 2018), WVU Assistant Professor of History Michele Stephens examines the Huichol Indians as they struggled to maintain their independence over two centuries. From the days of the Aztec Empire, the history of west-central Mesoamerica has been one of isolation and a fiercely independent spirit, and one group that maintained its autonomy into the days of Spanish colonization was the Huichol tribe. Rather than assimilating into the Hispanic fold, as did so many other indigenous peoples, the Huichols sustained their distinct identity even as the Spanish Crown sought to integrate them. In confronting first the Spanish colonial government, then the Mexican state, the Huichols displayed resilience and cunning as they selectively adapted their culture, land, and society to the challenges of multiple new eras.
Broadly, Stephens' research investigates the relationships between communities in Latin America and how communities form in response to internal and external stressors. In her current project, “Under the Eyes of God: Protecting Land and Life in the Huichol Sierra of Western Mexico, 1723-1940," she examines the ways in which the Huichols have selectively adapted elements of Spanish and Mexican culture as a way to insulate their indigenous practices from external forces, beliefs and stressors.
The talk is sponsored by the Department of History and the Native American Studies Program in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. It is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. prior to the reading. A book signing will follow the talk, and copies will be available for purchase.