Kuhina Nui: Nineteenth Century Hawaiian Women, Power & Law

Two Spirits
500 Nations – Mexico – The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs
LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPUTLHWVY34
Start at minutes 45:10, The Valley of Mexico and watch through the story of Motecuzoma to end.

1. Sometimes when students read Chappell’s article on shipboard relations between EuroAmericans and Pacific Island women, they tend to see the transactions as a form of “prostitution.” What do you think? Were these women just being used? What are the arguments here? Can we look at North American or Mesoamerican indigenous ideas about gender and sexuality and apply these to the indigenous cultures of the Pacific? Are there any connections or is it inappropriate to make these comparisons? What details can you include from the article to make your case?

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2. I also asked you to watch a short lecture on the Kuhina Nui of Hawaiʻi. Who were the Kuhina Nui? What role did they play in the political power structure of Hawaiʻi? Why are they important to global history and also American history? What can we learn from Hawaiian forms of government that might help us in the world today? Include details from the lecture to make your case.

3. In her article, “From a Long Line of Vendidas: Chicanas and Feminism,” feminist playwright and author Cherrie Moraga discusses the “conquest” story of Cortes and Doña Marina:
The sexual legacy passed down to the Mexicana / Chicana is the legacy of betrayal, pivoting around the historical / mythical female figure of Malintzin Tenepal [Doña Marina]. As translator and strategic advisor and mistress to the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, Hernan Cortez, Malintzin is considered the mother of the mestizo people. But unlike La Virgen de Guadalupe, she is not revered as the Virgin Mother, but rather slandered as La Chingada, meaning the “fucked one,” or La Vendida, sellout to the white race.
Upon her shoulders rests the full blame for the “bastardization” of the indigenous people of Mexico. To put it in its most base terms: Malintzin, also called Malinche, fucked the white man who conquered the Indian peoples of Mexico and destroyed their culture. Ever since, brown men have been accusing her of betraying her race, and over the centuries continue to blame her entire sex for this “transgression.”[1]

Do you think Moraga’s assessment is accurate? Marina is accused of colluding with the Spaniards against her own Mexica people, but what choices did she have? Still, without her, neither Cortes nor Motecuzoma would have been able to speak to or hear each other. And she interpreted for others, such as friars and eventually taught others to interpret. She also learned Spanish as well – remember she may have only been 18 or 19 when she was brought to Cortes – maybe the same age as some of you – can we place ourselves in her shoes?

4. At the beginning of the semester, I asked you to complete a short answer assignment that focused on how advertising and media shape contemporary concepts of gender, sex, and sexuality in our society. Now that you have been introduced to global history with a gender perspective is there anything different or additional you would include in your original assessment? Would you approach your short assignment differently? Does your knowledge and understanding of history enhance or inform how you view messages or suggestions that are being conveyed in mass media? Does history shape our media or does media shape our history?

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