Throughout our lives we are taught about history. In America we mainly focus on the history of Europeans and then about the history of America since Europeans took over. In our studies we only touch on ancient civilizations and cultures. We are lead to believe that the people no longer exist. However this is far from the truth. The bloodlines are still there, but these people have been removed from their histories. European settlers failed to understand that these people had a written history. In their interpretation, history must be written, and writing is only accepted in alphabetical form. Their history was recorded in pictures rather than alphabetically. The histories of these people (Aztecs, Mixtecs, and other indigenous people of Mexico) were essentially erased by the Spaniards. I’m sure the elders still retained what they could and passed it along to future generations, but after a while it began to fade.
We are taught to believe that hieroglyphs are pre-historic, and any cultures that used them are not nearly as advanced as those who use alphabetic writing. But the indigenous people had books just as the Europeans had. They had their own calendar and religious beliefs. The Europeans failed to recognize that and immediately assumed their way of doing things was better. Now, people are becoming wiser. We have come to understand that there are many different ways of accomplishing the same task. For example, Americans may not understand Chinese characters, but we accept that it is a different language, developed from a separate culture throughout their history. Now that we can accept that there are other languages and forms of writing, we are beginning to understand that there may be a lot to learn from each and every one of these ancient forms of text.
People now are trying to go back to recover and learn the meaning of the pictorials. This may be to gain education, but it’s mainly for the descendants of those people to rediscover and understand the culture and traditions of their ancestors. The key to recovering the true history, however, is to separate it completely from the revisions of the European settlers. This was a difficult task because since the takeover, even indigenous historians began using a mixture of the pictorial and alphabetic writing. People who are trying to find the true history of the indigenous people argue that, “’authentic voices’ are distorted by colonial transcription.” This statement makes perfect sense if you know two languages. Knowing three languages I fully understand how difficult it is to translate between languages. It is easy to mix words up, which can completely change the meaning of a statement. To recover their true history, I believe we must learn the meanings of pictorials that are untouched by the colonial hand. To my understanding, “Stories in Red and Black” is an account of the history of different indigenous Mexican civilizations, as recovered by historians so far. With continued research, more will continue to be recovered, and hopefully we will eventually have a comprehensive history of these people.