Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tapeworm Architecture -- Archeological Evidence of Cultural Parasitism

These picturesque ruins looming in the distance are what's left of the mission church at Abo, NM, started in 1622 and abandoned 50 years later. 

I don't have the time or inclination to write a proper essay on this subject right now, though I might at a later date.  In a nutshell:  when the Spanish conquered New Mexico, starting in 1598, they subjugated the Pueblo Indians.  The Indians essentially became slaves to the Spanish.  The Indians were required to pay tribute to their new overlords -- both goods and labor.  In other words, the Spanish were parasites upon the Indians.  This huge church, built with Indian labor, is an example of Spanish cultural parasitism.  The church took 30 years to build, and during this time the Indians were required to neglect their true livelihoods while they worked on this monument to Spanish power.

Building something this grandiose would have been inconceivable to the Indians.  They had better things to do.  But this is what the Spanish forced the Indians to do "for the glory of God."

This view out a church window shows, in the far distance, barely-visible grassy mounds with bushes growing on them.  These are the unexcavated ruins of where the Indians lived -- modest stone structures, used only at night and during bad weather, since they lived most of their lives outdoors. 

This particular site was occupied by the Indians as early as 1150 A.D.  The first mission church was started in 1622.  Thus the Indians had lived successfully in this spot for 472 years, through good times and bad, feast and famine, times of plenty and times of drought, before the Spanish took over.

The Spanish bled the Pueblos dry.  They were merciless.  This church was finally completed in 1659, and the pueblo was abandoned between 1672-78. In other words, after nearly 500 years of successful Indian habitation, the Spanish managed to destroy the native culture in a short 50 years.

This is a fascinating story that has been told before, sort of, but never in the blunt way I'm capable of.  Maybe I'll write an article for Grassroots Press about it, because the problem of cultural parasitism persists to this day.  In fact, our entire planet is being destroyed by it.