Ethelia Ruiz Medrano
Mexico's Indigenous Communities
Their Lands and Histories, 1500-2010
University of Colorado Press 2010
In my work with pre-Hispanic and colonial Mexican pictorial texts, I often wish I could talk with the people who authored them. In the academic setting, sometimes we forget that these documents represent conversations about what was happening in the lives of many people at the time they were created and that some aspects of these materials that we have found in archives or ancient cities are still part of the cultural heritage and daily lives of the descendants of the creators. Ethelia Ruiz Medrano helps us realize that the study of popular culture also can mean the sharing of knowledge. Ruiz Medrano’s research in the tiny town of Santa Maria Cuquila has led to a new way of thinking about our pasts and how they connect with our presents.
Ruiz Medrano’s book Mexico’s Indigenous Communities: Their Lands and Histories, 1500-2010 is a best-selling work on popular culture from the University of Colorado Press. Indigenous Communities traces a new context for our Amerindian heritage. Ruiz Medrano examines local administrative power and the resolution of community issues as functions of life today in much the same way as they were 500 years ago. At the same time, these communities are also rooted in the twenty first century. Many community members have relatives and friends in the United States. They keep in touch with cell phones and text messages while also seeking answers in their pictorial documents and oral and cultural accounts. Ruiz Medrano has become their student and her book offers a fascinating study of past and present, and of a community of teachers for this scholar-student.