NATIVE MEXICANS LIVING IN STRAW COTTAGES NEAR SALAMANCA, MEXICO — The average dwelling of the poor Native Mexicans is a wretched one. Miserable hovels constructed out of cakes of sun-dried clay, or huts made or all sorts of refuse, such as discarded railroad ties, sugar-cane stalks, old barrel staves and bits of matting—such are too frequently the abode of thousands upon thousands of the natives of Mexico. A blanket, usually of a brilliant color, is the real home of the average Mexican Indian. In that he lives, moves and has his being. Wrapping it to his chin about his thin shirt and trousers of white cotton, he leans against a wall for hours, looking like a soiled barber’s pole. When night comes he will change his position to a horizontal one, but his colored blanket will still envelop him. These Indians are said to be generally happy and contented, but it is hard to believe it in view of their condition. Many of them certainly have a hopeless and even timid look, like that of a well-meaning dog that had been beaten and abused. The old Spaniards found the Aztecs in many respects a cultivated and intelligent race. They slaughtered them, however, by thousands and seized upon their land, like robbers. The Indians have, therefore, had little chance to ameliorate their situation. There are about seven millions of them who must be educated and elevated before Mexico can start unfettered on the plane of other nations. This is now being attempted by a system of public instruction, which has in the last few years accomplished good results. Meanwhile, as a proof of the capacity of the natives under favorable conditions, it should be remembered that President Juarez, probaby the ablest man whom Mexico has ever produced, was a full-blooded Indian. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, or CDI in Spanish) and the INEGI (official census institute), in 2015, 25,694,928 people in Mexico self-identify as being indigenous of many different ethnic groups, which constitute 21.5% of Mexico’s population. (from Wikipedia)



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