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Forgotten Pueblos: La Alianza Federal de Mercedes and the Cultural Politics of Indo-Hispano

Trujillo, Simon Ventura. Forgotten Pueblos: La Alianza Federal de Mercedes and the Cultural Politics of Indo-Hispano. 2013. University of Washington, PhD dissertation.

As one of the formative organizations of the Chicana/o movement in the 1960s and '70s, La Alianza Federal de Mercedes waged a dynamic and controversial campaign in New Mexico for the recovery of Mexican and Spanish land grants that had been lost in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War in the mid-19th century. This dissertation draws from a diverse collection of archived writings and publicity materials produced by La Alianza over the span of its roughly 15 year existence and situates the movement as a rich site of cultural production. I consider these documents as an archive of subaltern history writing that countered nationalist histories that naturalize private property and sanction collective amnesia of Mexican and Native land dispossession under US sovereignty.

By offering a sustained and critical engagement with La Alianza's history writing, this dissertation examines the movement's use of Indo-Hispano as a term invoking a past of mestizaje distinct from dominant Chicana/o imaginings of mestizaje. My analysis reveals the complex ties between Indo-Hispano and the political economy of New Mexican land grant tenure and dispossession. This project argues that Indo-Hispano re-writes the mestiza/o pasts of genízaro Indians, detribalized Plains and Pueblo Indian captives who were forcibly resettled into land grants as a buffer to protect the Spanish colonial interior in New Mexico from Plains Indian raids during the 17th and 18th centuries. In the context of genízaro Indian land grant tenure and loss, La Alianza's textual production challenges dominant understandings of Chicana/o mestizaje offered by Chicana/o, Latina/o, and Latin American studies. Indo-Hispano insists that mestizaje ought to be considered in a much longer history of colonial hybridity and gender violence in the Americas that is not bound to the Mexican nationalist version of mestizaje appropriated by the Chicana/o movement.

In these terms, this dissertation reframes La Alianza's status in Chicano/a studies in a way that opens up the field's relation to indigenous studies and Latin American studies. From this perspective, I link Indo-Hispano to genízaro land tenure and loss in order to recuperate an alternative imaginary for indigenous land reclamation and mestizo/a hybridity in the Americas. I unearth this imaginary by reading Indo-Hispano alongside an array of multi-ethnic border narratives that center linkages between mestizaje and indigenous territoriality across the Americas. In other words, my focus on the writing of Indo-Hispano is also about rendering visible cognate indigenous modes of telling the past and reclaiming the land that inhere within a multiplicity of borderland positions. In particular, I read Leslie Marmon Silko's Almanac of the Dead and Ana Castillo's So Far From God as texts that give me a language to resignify Indo-Hispano's transnational, hybridized, and coalitional nature. At stake here is making the case for how the writing of Indo-Hispano converges with the temporalities of transnational indigenous land reclamation struggles of our contemporary moment.