Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
What is the good of putting the Kachikel language into writing and then translating the
Bible into it, when the few Indians who go to school learn to read and write in Spanish? My
experience with Indians has been that they never learn to understand the Christian religion as
we do, and if Kipling's famous 'East is east and west is west' is true, it is much more so with
merely taken the place of the old idols, and the sun, the moon, and the stars remain still the
mystical background of their adorations. Some missionaries try to do away with images and
outward signs and endeavour to implant Christian sentiment, forgetting that they are dealing
of view. Sentiment, like musical and other talents, is inborn and can never be implanted, but
where it exists it can be cultivated. White man has but few morals to teach the Indian, and it
is superfluous for me even to go into details why I think so. Suffice it to mention war, murder,
commerce, prostitution, refined vice and hypocrisy, things that are beyond the range of under-
standing of any pure Indian when considered on the scale we know them.
Charity begins at home; so let us start by cleaning the Augean stables of our big cities be-
fore we go abroad teaching the Indians and 'savages' our vices, which is necessary to make
Whilst I was in Tzanjuyu the Indians held a religious procession. An old church that was
badly damaged during the big earthquake in 1825, still stands, but there is no priest attached
to it, so the natives carried on on their own. Battered and discoloured old saints were brought
out and slowly carried around by the men. Ahead walked two Indians beating big drums,
square, whence they watched. Most of the men who took part in the ceremony had obviously
freelypartakenof guaro ,astheirfavouritestrongdrinkiscalled,andsomehadgreatdifficulty
in walking along. Behind this strange procession followed a few more Indians, who set off
one rocket after another. Finally the saints, one of which was a Spanish Conquistador carved
in wood, were taken back into the ruined church, where I followed to see what was going on
In a niche, on one side, was an ancient altar over which an old mural painting was still to
be seen. The floor had been sprinkled with fir needles and flowers, and on the altar were all
flat on the stone floor, remaining there for some time, not unlike penitent dogs. One 'saint'
was a modern white doll, dressed up in Indian clothes, and in one place lay a coffin with the
crude shape of a human being in it, which the drunken Indians went to kiss. In some corners
and niches groups were squatting on the floor and drinking, whilst some lay about so badly
intoxicated that they appeared to be dead. As I was accompanied by the alcalde (mayor), sev-
eral Indians came to kiss my hands, which is a custom among them.
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