Lecture / Reading

Mapping Indigenous Land: Native Land Grants in Colonial New Spain

Sponsored by Native American Cultural Center, Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford University Libraries, David Rumsey Map Center


Friday, November 6, 2020
2:45 pm – 4:15 pm
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Online via Zoom

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Between 1536 and 1601, at the request of the colonial administration, indigenous artists from colonial Mexico crafted more than 200 maps to be used as evidence in litigation over land distribution. These land grant maps, or mapas de mercedes de tierra, tell the stories of hundreds of Natives and Spaniards who engaged in legal proceedings either to request land, to oppose a petition, or to negotiate its terms. Ana Pulido Rull spent various years examining these striking painted maps and reading the court records from the land disputes at the Mexican National Archives.

In this online talk, the author will narrate some of the stories she found most remarkable and will show that these maps did more than simply record the disputed territories for lawsuits: They also enabled indigenous communities to translate their ideas about the contested spaces into visual form; offered arguments for the defense of these spaces; and, in some cases, even helped protect indigenous land against harmful requests.

Ana Pulido Rull is an Associate Professor of Latin American Art History at the University of Arkansas. She is originally from Mexico City and has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her research focuses on indigenous maps from pre-Columbian and colonial Mexico, especially those designed for and used as legal evidence in colonial courts of law. In her book, Mapping Indigenous Land. Native Land Grants in Colonial New Spain, she examines how maps produced by indigenous cartographers helped communities defend their lands from the Spanish colonizers’ land requests.

Please register for this online talk using the RSVP form. On the day of the talk, Zoom will open at 2:45pm PST. The talk will begin at 3:00pm, followed by Q&A.

This talk is hosted by the David Rumsey Map Center, the Native American Cultural Center, Center for Latin American Studies, and the Stanford Libraries.