In 1975 a watershed moment captivated Mexico as Indigenous peoples from across the country came together on the Island of Janitzio for the First National Congress of Indigenous Peoples. The congress was a federal government initiative intended to preempt an independent Indigenous movement. But Indigenous groups circumvented the intended containment policies of the congress and made bold demands for political self-determination.
Using previously unavailable documents, María L. O. Muñoz examines the events that led to the congress, the meeting itself, and developments after the assembly. Muñoz shows how Indigenous leaders working within Mexico's Department of Colonization and Agrarian Affairs (DAAC) sidestepped state attempts to control Indigenous communities, and how they made bold demands that redefined the ways federal and state governments engaged with pueblos indígenas.
Through research in previously untapped archives, Muñoz is able to trace the political history of the Indigenous leaders and government officials who redefined the ways Indigenous peoples engaged with governments. She illustrates the fluid and evolving power relationships of the key players with a focus on the twelve years of populism in the last decades of the twentieth century.
This book challenges the discourse of unquestioned power and hegemony of the national ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and it illustrates how Indigenous communities in Mexico reimagined their roles in the social, political, and economic life of the nation.