Heritage Edition – Our Cultural Dilemma


Image via Dreamstine

Raquel Gonzalez Lopez, Writer

We’ve gathered history dating all the way back to 3.3 million years ago to the present time. It’s undeniable that history created who we are today. Unfortunately, most of our ancestors’ existence goes undocumented, yet what we have gathered from their remains is not only valuable knowledge but valuable artifacts that contain that knowledge. Although, as with any other object, these artifacts can be destroyed, broken, or stolen, along with our identity. 

Yet, the fear and lack of knowledge our ancestors have faced are what caused these losses in artifacts, the loss of history. A dangerous endless path that we can be on the verge of walking on. For instance, Azteca’s ancient history shows these frequent trends yet completely goes undermined, even among its people. The reasons can vary, for simply not being interested in learning or never being given the opportunity to. About 67% of Mexicans consider themselves Catholics while 17% of Mexican Americans consider themselves Atheists (Pew Research). This is why this generation feels so linked together, as many of us endured a similar experience in a Catholic household. 

Although, as this generation starts to question and shift away from their religion, they often forget to wonder if their religion is theirs. As we may know, Mexicans and Hispanics are descended from Aztecs with a mixture of mestizo (“People From Mexico Show Stunning Amount of Genetic Diversity”). The reason for this dates back to the 16th century when Spaniards arrived in Mexico. Hernán Cortés, a conquistador, soon conquered Mexico as their foreign illnesses took out most of their population (History.com). 

They were soon enslaved and were forced to watch as their empire collapsed (Britannica). As they took over, they replaced the fallen temples with churches instead, destroying the historical architecture. Without giving much of a choice, the Aztecs adopted catholicism into their cultural frame of reference, such as referring to Saint Mary as Teteoinnan (Nahuatl Dictionary) and Saint Anne as Toci (Wikipedia), both of whom became the mother of gods to the Aztecs. While this massacre dates back to 500 years ago, the war against the Catholic Church and Mexicans is still raging to this day. 

While we cannot change the past, we can better the future, and the first step many see is receiving an apology from the Catholic church for playing a role in their extinction (Smithsonian). While many believe we shouldn’t dwell in the past, but instead focus and become better in the future, we cannot ignore the past completely as it’s a key to how our culture came to be. Not only does it lie in our cultural religion, but how it plays a role in our experience and how we reflect our own experience to our peers. We can all agree that most adults had difficult times growing up, especially when they came from an age where receiving help is taboo and religion is everything. While we stand in the modern age, it’s important to change along with time, especially if the means are preventing the same unfairness and challenges you’ve faced onto the next generation. Forgetting and ignorance can not only cause us to lose our own history, but it also steals away from what it could have been.