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Spanish Court Records from Late Colonial Guatemala Catherine Komisaruk* - page 8 / 14





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capital and collected the cash portion of her salary, and she listed in impressive detail several parcels of land and various movable items that had been kept at her parents’ home for her.

García’s testimony adds to other evidence I have found in court records showing that Indian parents collected wages on behalf of their daughters working in the Spanish city. The depth of her case is useful for its revelations about the kinds of investments the parents made with their daughter’s earnings—kitchen- ware, furniture, religious icons, clothing, livestock, lands, and farm equipment. García also noted that she had loaned her father forty pesos “for the care of a milpa” in her native community. The purchase of lands, as well as the main- tenance of laborers to make the lands productive, tied the pueblo’s agricultural economy to cash earned by a daughter working in the city. Like the court inves- tigation about the wet nurses from Jocotenango serving in the capital, García’s case not only helps demonstrate Indian women’s participation as migrant workers in the Spanish economy, but also suggests a link between their work and the survival of the native community.

Because the case is a lawsuit pursued by an individual, though, it contains a degree of information on Francisca García herself that transcends most of the cases filed by (or on behalf of) communities, like those I have described above. Through the depositions of García and others, a portrait of her life emerges in which she had become increasingly ensconced in the Hispanic world of the capital city. While her parents and brothers continued to live in the Indian pueblo of Ciudad Vieja, Francisca had left at a tender age for the capital, where she lived and worked in the homes of Spaniards. She undoubtedly quickly learned Spanish, if she had not already known it. She married a man who was probably an Indian, but he had been born in the capital and was so Hispanized that the term “indio” had been dropped from the label people used to describe him. Her parents, she noted, did not like her husband. She continued to live in the Spanish city and, as she pointed out, had no intention of moving back to the pueblo. When she learned of a threat to her inheritance, she appealed immediately to the Spanish authorities in the capital, and she repeatedly sought their aid, continuing to use the Spanish court system to litigate toward her ends. Not only did she rely on Spanish institutions, but she also named several of her Spanish former employers as witnesses in her case.

Thus while on one level García’s lawsuit tells a tale of a family’s feud over filial loyalty and inheritance, on another level it informs us about an Indian woman’s migration and acculturation into the Hispanic, urban society of Nueva Guatemala. The story suggests some ways in which family and community loyalties were closely intertwined with cultural identities. Her father’s testament justified his exclusion of his daughter from the inheritance on grounds that she had failed in obedience and loyalty to her parents and the home. He complained not only that she had quarreled with her mother, but that she had at one point been huida [gone, run away] without knowing about the death of my wife”—that her absences from home were so long that she hadn’t immediately learned of her mother’s death. Significantly, though, this rift with her family appears as part of a broader breach in her relationship to the community of Ciudad Vieja. Even after

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