The Rain Gods' Rebellion: The Cultural Basis of a Nahua Insurgency

The Rain Gods' Rebellion: The Cultural Basis of a Nahua Insurgency

by James M. Taggart


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The Rain Gods’ Rebellion examines Nahua oral narratives to illuminate the cultural basis of the 1977–1984 rebellion against the local Hispanic elite in Huitzilan de Serdán, Mexico. Drawing from forty years of fieldwork in the region, James M. Taggart traces the sociopolitical role of Nahua rain gods—who took both human and divine forms—back hundreds of years and sheds new light on the connections between social experiences and the Nahua understanding of water and weather in stories. As Taggart shows, Nahua tales of the rain gods’ rebellion anticipated the actual 1977 land invasion in Huitzilan, in which some 200–300 Nahua were killed.

The Rain Gods’ Rebellion reveals how local culture evolves from the expression of unrest to organized insurgency and then into collective memory. Taggart records a tradition of storytelling in which Nahuas radicalized themselves through recounting the rain gods’ stories—stories of the gods organizing and striking with bolts of lightning the companion spirits of autocratic local leaders who worked closely with mestizos. The tales are part of a tradition of resisting the friars’ efforts to convert the Nahuas, Totonacs, Otomi, and Tepehua to Christianity and inspiring nativistic movements against invading settlers.

Providing a rare longitudinal look at the cultural basis of this grassroots insurgency, The Rain Gods’ Rebellion offers rare insight into the significance of oral history in forming Nahua collective memory and, by extension, culture. It will be of significance to scholars of Indigenous studies, anthropology, oral history, and violence studies, as well as linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607329503
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication date: 08/03/2020
Edition description: 1
Pages: 246
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James M. Taggart is the Lewis Audenreid Professor of History and Archaeology, Emeritus, at Franklin and Marshall College and taught for five years at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico City. His fieldwork in Mexico, Spain, and the Hispanic Southwest has been supported by grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Lewis Audenreid Fund of Franklin and Marshall College. He is the author of Remembering Victoria: A Tragic Nahuat Love Story and recipient of the Bradley R. Dewey Prize for Excellence in Scholarship, the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and an honorable mention in the Chicago Folklore Prize competition.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Rebellions in the Sierra Norte 13

Chapter 3 San Miguel and the Rain Gods 27

Chapter 4 "The Rain God," 1975 39

Chapter 5 "The President and the Priest," 1975 54

Chapter 6 "The President of Hueytlalpan," 1978 78

Chapter 7 "The Water in Ixtepec," 1978 93

Chapter 8 "A Humble Man's Predicament," 1978 108

Chapter 9 "Malintzin," 1978 134

Chapter 10 "The Land Transaction" 143

Chapter 11 After the UCI 151

Chapter 11 "The Storm" 163

Chapter 13 Conclusion 175


"Ahuehueht," 1975 183

"The Drunk," 1977 190

"The Drunk" II, 1977 199

Notes 211

References Cited 225

Index 231

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