Essay Example on In When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers

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In When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away Marriage Sexuality and Power in New Mexico 1500 1846 Ramón A Gutiérrez argues that the Spanish Franciscans used marriage as a way to structure racial and gender inequalities among the Pueblo Indians Throughout his book Gutiérrez displays his research and explains how it contributes to proving thesis His detailed inquiry into how Spanish colonization affected Pueblo society should be highly regarded not only for its extensiveness but also for its insight into the native perspective Gutiérrez investigates how the Franciscans ideology changed Pueblo women s social status through the institution of marriage He approaches and analyzes his evidence through a sociological and anthropological lens When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away is organized into three main sections The first section concentrates on Pueblo life before European interference Here Gutiérrez focuses on sexuality He goes on to theorize that women held a lot sexual power due to the acceptance of women having freedom to make their own sexual choices It was common for both men and women to practice polygamy monogamy homosexuality bisexuality and recreational sex in general The second section recounts the Spanish colonization of the Pueblo people while focusing on how Franciscan missionaries impacted the erasure of Pueblo culture The third section lists the effects of colonization on 



Native culture and explains how they came about Gutiérrez fixates on how social changes affected gender roles and views of race The most reoccurring themes Gutiérrez discusses in this section are honor and status He elaborates on the role these themes played in marriage and controlling female sexuality The Franciscan view of marriage was heterosexual monogamous and patriarchal They viewed female sexuality as only being acceptable when it took place in that marital system For Native men honor was achieved through conforming to the patriarch role which involved controlling their wives This ultimately led Native women to be considered lesser than their male counterparts Marriage oppressed women but it also created class inequalities After the Spanish started forcing the Pueblo people to assimilate to their ideology a class system developed based on race If a Puebloan woman wanted to move up in status she would marry a European man leave her culture traditions behind and hope to have light skinned children Gutiérrez even goes as far as claiming that the rape of Native women by Spanish men was seen as a means of increasing the status of future offspring Gutiérrez makes it clear that Puebloan women were not initially complicit with the Franciscan marital institution by informing the reader that acts of resistance were common


The development of the class system gave women a way out of being treated poorly for being native in exchange for being treated poorly for being women Those who better encapsulated European characteristics were higher in status and therefore treated better by the Spanish whereas those who had primarily Native qualities were lower and therefore treated worse Cross breeding became so normalized that around the late 1700 s psychical features mostly ceased to define status but the racial based class system remained manifesting in different ways Specific non physical traits were assigned as being distinctively Native or European e g religion clothing speech patterns behavior and jobs Gutiérrez argues that the pressure to present in a European fashion contributed to the oppression of Puebloans especially women He asserts that the class system developed by Spanish settlers was used not only to justify the oppression of Natives but to also create a separation among them This separation resulted in higher class natives being complicit in the forced labor of lower class natives due to their social safety net To prove his thesis Gutiérrez asserts that Native women had significantly more power and a higher social standing before White colonists forced them to conform to their European religious ideology


While explaining his reasoning for this claim he explains the title of the book Corn Mothers were a part of a Pueblos origin myth that explained that women created life When Christian ideology was integrated by force the concept of a male origin led to the Corn Mothers being forgotten He cites The Origins of the Family Private Property and the State a book that includes various pieces of evidence that claim that colonization played a large part in how women s roles in native culture has changed Throughout the book Gutiérrez uses a plethora of sources to back his claims It is obvious after reading the book that he conducted extensive research and obtained heaps of information relating to his topic When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away uses a variety of different source types including Pueblo myths religious documents archaeological studies colonist journals Spanish records and oral histories He also uses statistics to support his arguments Section three alone informs the reader about the average age Pueblo women married average age difference in marriage forced marriage interracial marriage and foreign tribal marriage


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