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The eagle has landed

13 March 2010

By tradition, 13 March 1325 is given as the date Tenochtitlan was founded making today Mexico City’s 685th birthday.

As everyone knows (or should know), Tenochtitlan was settled by the Mexica who, after their wandering through the desert (or somewhere else) fled their overlords on the mainland around Lake Texcoco for their island refuge.  The story told by the Mexica — or, rather their ruling class that decided what was in their history classes — the island refuge was selected after receiving a sign from God… specifically an eagle landing on a nopal and eating a snake.

For the euro-centric among us, the Mexica/Aztecs are best compared to their contemporaries,the Ottomans, who also wandered in from elsewhere, settled down and conquered their neighbors about the same time.  We don’t find it strange that pre-Ottoman cultural patterns persisted throughout the Turkish Empire, but do seem to have trouble wrapping our minds around the idea that not all Mexican culture is “Aztec”, nor that the Aztecs were simply the last of the great dominant Mesoamerican cultures before the Europeans added a radically new dominant culture… one that the indigenous cultures, as they have since people first appeared in this part of the Americans adapted to, and assimilated into their own traditions.  And revised their histories once again.

Something you should know, and should read up on.

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