From 1810 to 1825 women were engaged effectively in different wars of independence against the Spanish. The most recognized women were the Latin American women who were deeply involved in the struggles for independence especially in the struggle for women’s rights in the broadest sense of economic, political and legal. The women were also credited for the great role they played in redemocratization and economic reconstruction.
IMPACT OF SPANISH CONQUEST ON INCA AND AZTEC WOMEN
Many Spaniards moved into America because of the reports of gold. Many people were pressed into ritual slavery in search of gold. Consequently the local overlords grew rich and the natives remained poor. The continued success of the local overlords led to Spanish conquest in America. Aztec rulers were ruling around 25 million people who were living in large cities administered by elaborate array of military leaders: priests and government officials.
There were also village elders who were united through marriage arrangement between their families and other families. “Chief speaker” was a body of elected representative elders, and it developed into strong emperor figure and was having great powers. The Aztec system was theoretically meant the empire enjoyed closer ties of divinity and the priest was to select sacrifices required to keep sun shinning and to see rains falling. The priest was also required to maintain order in the society and during the time the sacrifices were being made. (Tompkins, 2001)
The Incas were however weakened in regime from factional fighting and diseases even before the sparkles armored. Emperor Pizzarro’s forces were captured the empire leading to the destruction of the Incas and then the way was open to Spanish enconmediams to take over the Inca and Aztec empires which were found in the gulf of Mexico. The Spaniards persecuted the people in the two empires and their cities were destroyed and were to be replaced by Spaniard cities. These people faced horrible time in the Spaniards hands because they were massacred purposely or accidentally by transmitting to them European diseases. The Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan was conquered destroyed and the Spaniards build their own capital: Mexico City (just on the site of destroyed Aztec capital).
The Aztec and Inca empires were located in the present Gulf of Mexico and by the time they were conquered they were barely a century old. Both empires were extending over large areas and were having millions of people. The conquest of Aztecs by Spaniards was due to the epidemics that had affected them while the Incas were conquered through the impact of deliberate infection of European diseases though they were also weakened by internal conflicts. (D’Altroy, 2002)
Aztec community is an ethnic group found in central Mexico particularly those who speak Nahuati language. They achieved a political and military dominance in the parts of Mesoamerica. While the Inca Empire was on the other hand the largest empire in the pre- Columbia America. (Michael, 1984)
Before the invasion and occupation of Mexican Gulf by the Spaniards the Aztec and Inca women were considered to be lesser members of the society. The Inca women were given the specific task of making the local brew while the Aztec women were empowered in textiles making. However with colonialism the roles of women changed women were seen to be in the fore fronts to fight against the inhumaniterian activities that were being done by the Spaniards.
During colonization the women were having very great levels of uncertainties because this was the time when sexual harassment on women was on the range of rising. They were also used as maids in the houses of the ruling elites. These mistreatments generated the uprising of women to fight for colonial liberation which they needed more than the men.
Colonialism also saw the abolition of indigenous ways of life for example the use of the indigenous trees and plants to cure some diseases and some agricultural seeds which they treasured were abolished. In their role as the primary protectors of the family the Aztec and Inca women saw this as a threat to their royalties they had valued for long time. They also fought for land rights; globalization and clear cut cultural identity with no job description for males and females in the society. (Michael, 1984)
ROLE OF INDIGENOUS TUPI WOMEN
The Tupi women were generally described as indigenous women rooted to domestic domains and so they were not able to fulfill institutionalized political and economic roles. However this was not easy to achieve because in the indigenous Tupi there were distinct gender regimes and gender symbolism were associated with masculinity, this lead to increased war in Tupi society. These women worked hard to see new complementary spaces opening up to them and most of them even fought for colonial liberation from Europe. They also demonstrated strong desires and complain to survive the criticism and brutality; they also ensured that they adjusted to resist the myriad colonial changes. Despite the numerous attempts by the colonial governments the Tupi women were able to negotiate for social and political rights for the society. (Miller, 1991)
Traditionally Tupi women were restricted to aesthetics alone for instance, they were required to decorate the housed, and they also painted their men to look delightful all over their bodies like birds or waves of the sea. The women also painted their own legs so that someone seeing them from a distance may think they are dressed in the black worsted stockings.
Council of male elders ruled the Tupi tribes to mean that women had no leadership positions in this tribe. The elders met almost daily and were only addressed by the chief on how to rule the society. The Tupi also believed in the real supernatural power but they were not having formal organized form of religion. They believed in spirits and deonoms making their tribes life to be a form of myth, legend spiritual and ceremonial web. The women were entitled to domestic chores and they also participated in agricultural activities with no voice in administration. They were greatly discriminated upon by the men and were not allowed to make any vital decisions but to listen to and follow orders from their men. (Monteiro, 2000)
However after colonialism the roles these women changed greatly with leadership style taking different dimensions. The women participated actively in the fight for colonial liberation giving their cultural and indigenous practices new meaning and approach. The women formed different movements to fight for equal representation in the ruling class as well as liberalized roles for both genders.
They wanted an end to the work specification according to gender that had been there in olden days and was also magnified by the Spaniards during colonialism. This is because during the fight for colonial liberation the Tupi women realized their potentials to rule and do other duties better than the men. Their roles eventually changed but they maintained one provision of domestic needs and services mostly decoration of their bodies and houses using traditional approaches.
D’Altroy, T. (2002), the Incas: peoples of America. Blackwell publishers.
Michael, D. (1984). Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs (ancient people and places)
Miller, F. (1991), American women and the search for social justice. Hanover university press.
Monteiro, J. (2000), the heathen castes of sixteenth century. Duke university press.
Tompkins C, Foster D W, (2001), Notable Twentieth Century Latin American women, Amazon,
Green wood press.