Puro Party: Celebrating a Genocide


FIESTA SAN ANTONIO 2018—It’s that time of year once gain in San Antonio, when—over the span of 10 days—the city dresses up to pay tribute to its history and multicultural background.  What many don’t know is that Fiesta’s origins are intimately tied to white supremacy and dominance over the indigenous populations of the area, the Coahuiltecan and Chicano.  This is not an analysis – excellent studies (see below) already exist that thoroughly explore the Fiesta’s history.  We here at Yankwik Mexikayotl present to you a documentary that was done in 1992, “Puro Party: Celebrating a Genocide” by Lizzie Martinez, Jim Mendiola, and Brett Littman.”  It runs about 30 minutes.

There are many points of discussion throughout this doc, and one of those moments is the gentleman dressed like an “Aztec” around minute 22 who relates the Cortes-Quetzalcoatl myth as a matter of fact.  Mesoamericanists no longer accept that Eurocentric interpretation of that encounter.  A great example of this scholarship is Camilla Townsend’s excellent article from 2003, “Burying the White Gods” (link to a review).

In sum, this is an interesting documentary for a number of reasons; it’s critical of the event and is produced in a postmodern aesthetic.  The fact that it was recorded during the Fiesta of 1992 is significant, because it coincides with the quincentennial Columbus celebrations happening at the time as well as with the indigenous counter (anti)celebrations.

Puro Party: Celebrating a Genocide

By Lizzie Martinez, Jim Mendiola, and Brett Littman

An Híjole Production, 1992

Runtime: 28:00

Every year for the past 101 years, San Antonio, TX, stages “Fiesta,” a 10 day celebration to honor Texas’ defeat of Mexico in the battle of San Jacinto—the Alamo, remember? This program takes Fiesta as a metaphor for the colonization of this predominantly Chicano city, and as an opportunity to explore Aztlan/Chicano identities. Coordinating Producers: Lizzie Martinez, Jim Mendiola and Brett Littman (San Antonio, TX).

Book on the subject: Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio By Laura Hernández-Ehrisman

About Tlakatekatl (12 Articles)
Ruben Arellano Tlakatekatl is a scholar, activist, and professor of history. His research explores Chicana/Chicano indigeneity, Mexican indigenist nationalism, Coahuiltecan identity resurgence, and the subaltern history of Texas. Other areas of research include Aztlan (US Southwest), Anawak (Mesoamerica), and Native North America. He has presented and published widely on these topics and has taught courses at various institutions. He currently teaches history at Dallas College – Mountain View Campus.

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