Maps are tools to show you where you are going, but they can also show you where you came from. That principle drives the work of Roberto Rodríguez and Patrisia Gonzales, who study ancient maps, oral traditions and the movement of domesticated crops to learn more about the origins of native people in the Americas.
"How do you bring memory back to a people that were told not to remember?" asks Rodríguez. As longtime scholars and syndicated columnists, Gonzales and Rodríguez explore this issue and others related to native people in the Americas. They recently entered the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences as graduate students in the life sciences communication department, and are teaching a class this summer that shows how the stories of Wisconsins native people fit into the larger history of the continent.
European efforts to homogenize indigenous people in the Americas destroyed much knowledge of the origins, migrations and history of different peoples, explains Rodríguez. However, some migration stories persist in oral traditions, including a central story - told in Mexico and depicted on the Mexican flag - of native people moving south from a place called Aztlán. The location of that place and the paths of movement are unclear, says Rodríguez, because people were moving around in all directions for thousands of years.
Roberto Rodríguez | EurekAlert!
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