Category Archives: Central and South American Native Cultures

INCA

#13 from The Extirpation of Idolatry in Peru
(Pablo Jose de Arriaga, 1621)

What Those Who Hang Themselves Really Are They do not stop those who hang themselves because of what they are. [They consider them] something more than human, and they invoke them, and call on them for some things, and it … Continue reading

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INCA

#12 from Natural & Moral History of the Indies
(José de Acosta, 1589)

Of Superstitions They Used to the Dead The Indians of Peru beleeved commonly that the Soules lived after this life, and that the good were in glorie and the bad in paine; so as there is little difficultie to perswade … Continue reading

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INCA

#11 from The Incas
(Pedro de Cieza de León, 1553)

The Burial of Wives Of how the Indians of these valleys and others of these kingdoms believe that the soul departs from the body and does not die, and why they ordered their wives interred in their tombs. In the … Continue reading

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CARIBBEAN PEOPLES

#10 from History of the New World
(Girolamo Benzoni, 1565)

Suffering at the Hands of the Spaniards Then other governors were successively sent to La Espanola, as well clerical as secular, till the natives, finding themselves intolerably oppressed and worked on every side, with no chance of regaining their liberty, … Continue reading

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CARIBBEAN PEOPLES

#9 from La Historia General de las Indias
(Francisco López de Gómara, 1552)

Suicide, Smallpox, and the Arrival of the Spaniards Of all their laws, this is the most notable, that for whatever theft they impaled the thief, they also abhorred the avaricious a lot. They bury with the men, especially with the … Continue reading

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CARIBBEAN PEOPLES

#8 from Natural History of the West Indies
(Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, 1526)

Suicide on the Death of the Chief This species of poisonous yuca grows in great abundance on the islands of San Juan [Puerto Rico], Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola. In some of the islands where the poisonous yuca is found, occasionally … Continue reading

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MAYA

#7 from Account of the Affairs of Yucatán
(Diego de Landa, c. 1570)

Ixtab: Goddess of the Gallows The Maya have always believed in the immortality of the soul more than many other peoples―even though they may not be so civilized―for they believed that there was a more excellent life after death which … Continue reading

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MAYA

#6 from Popol Vuh
(dictated in K’iche̍, c. 1554-1558; Francisco Ximénez, c. 1701)

How the People Obtained Fire And they did not have fire. Only the people of Tohil had it. He was the god of the tribes which first created fire. It is not known how it was made, because it was … Continue reading

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AZTEC

#5 from In Defense of the Indians
(Bartolome de Las Casas, 1548-1550)

The Significance of Human Sacrifice By nature, all nations know that God surpasses anything that can be imagined and that they have life and every possession from him. And by nature they understand that they owe God the greatest reverence … Continue reading

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AZTEC

#4 from Monarchia Indiana
(Juan de Torquemada, 1609-1615)

Chimalpopoca’s Victory in Death With this decision he called some Mexicans and told them his intention, and declared to them the insult that it would cause to them, if perhaps he should die at the hand of King Maxtla, for … Continue reading

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