HomeLIKHAvol. 15 no. 2 (1995)

I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

Bernadette S. Oloroso

Discipline: History




First published, in Spanish, in 1983, this first-person account by a Quiche Indian woman is an important chapter in a long, unresolved story of racial conflict. The story, which has been running for over 500 years, takes place in Guatemala, one of the small nations known collectively as Central America, situated, along with Mexico, between North and South America. As Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes tells it in his recent history of Latin America, The Buried Mirror (1992), it began on a continent that was once empty.

Over a hundred thousand years ago, climatic changes caused ice formations to shift, sea levels to descend, and land bridges to open between Asia and America. Centuries later, the land bridges enabled nomads to cross from Asia in small bands. These nomads, who later settled as farmers and formed villages, were the first Americans.