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El Indio by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes
a synopsis, with 11 illustrations by Diego Rivera



Chapter VI -- Submission

The government sends a messanger to the Indians in hiding. All has been forgiven with regard to the death of the white man.

He made no attempt to cover up the real reasons for the peace overtures. As he understood it, the townsmen were asking for semaneros,* the hacienda owners demanded workers for the sugar mills, the traders complained that the customers in the tianguis [market fairs] were few, and the inhabitants of the other rancherias had protested because the entire burden of repairing the roads, after the rains, fell upon them. In short, the people of the village were needed; hence peace was proposed.

In the light of the old man's experience, these reasons were much more convincing than all the promises of pardon. . . .In the years that had made his hair white, he had learned only too well that the gente de razon** made only two gestures toward them: with one hand they gave, and with the other they took.


The villagers return to the rancheria, fumigate their homes with copal*** to expel the evil spirits that might have taken possession during their long absence,, weed their gardens, work in town as the peace agreement demands, and slowly, familiar daily routines return.

Some in the community want to leave and find better land farther away from the whites. The old man argues that their gods live in these mountains and should not be deserted, and even if now they are more hungry than usual, the harvest looks to be, and proves to be, exceptionally good that year.

*semaneros = Indians drafted by the week for domestic service in the houses of town officials and influential citizens

**gente de razon, literally, people of reason; idiomatically, what the whites and mestizos generally call themselves to distinguish themselves from the Indians.

***copal -- aromatic resin used by the Indians of Mexico ceremonially and medicinally