"Juanita" / Dilemma

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Tue, 28 May 1996 16:42:28 +0000

Please excuse any cross-posting, thanks.

On 28 May 96 at 20:48, mike shupp wrote:

> On Sun, 26 May 1996, John Pastore wrote:

[Much cut]

> >
> > The President of the United States told the world its alright to
> > come and oogle. What do you think the world would be doing, right
> > now, if the same should have occurred for the exhibition of, say,
> > the Virgin Mary -- a "sacrificed" one at that?
> >
> 1) Bill Clinton has a gift for being inane. It's unfortunate in
> a president of the USA, but not unknown. He made a stupid, flip
> remark. It was not a policy decision, and I doubt that most
> people who have heard it or heard of it regard his words as a
> serious matter.

I, for one, do; and *if* true, "that 'most' people who have not heard
it, or heard of it, regard his word as a serious matter", than
_maybe_ what might only be worse than: 'too bad for those people',
might have to be: 'too bad for the anthropologists, archaeologists,
etc., and, especially, related magazine editors, who have failed to
educate those people to either know better, or even know what the
considerations of the issue are.

> 2) The dead girl is of interest, as was the hanged man in >
> Denmark, to the general public precisely because she was (or is >
> thought to be) a religious sacrifice. As for what the public >
> will get from viewing her remains, I suspect that most people >
> will go away with a little deeper understanding of the fact that >
> "pagans" took their religion very seriously. I don't see this >
> is a bad thing. >

I too do not believe the general public's right, need to know, or
chance to learn, is a bad thing --quite the contrary. However, I do
_not_ *suppose* about what they supposedly think, no matter how
supposedly *precise* --particularly about what they have been,
perhaps, led (or abandoned) to have *thought* what *religious
sacrifice* is suppose to mean --even if it be just a semantic blank,
and, perhaps, a very rude, but lucrative, one at that.

> 3) Is it possible to divide this issue into two parts, one to
> ascertain whether the body is being treated with dignity in the
> exhibition, and the other towards seeing that after the
> exhibition the body is decently buried/cremated/whatever?

There are other, I think more pertinent, considerations --one which
would require a bit of fast research: what do the present Quechuan
peoples, for example, even know about this episode and this issue,
and, if they do know anything of either, what their considerations
are. And not: *might* be?

I, for one, find it very hard to believe, that, if the present Andean
people, did know, and were in the position to do anything about it,
and, if the exhibit of an Andean mummy were considered by *their*
distant antecedents, or themselves, to be acceptable (within the
still unknown conditions) for respect due (or none ?), whether that
respect due was met --or can _now_ ever be met.

Does any thinking anthropologist, or archaeologist really believe
that a culture ancient, or not, intended the display of their
deceased to have been received by a Head of State as "Juanita" was?

This issue (and its episode), demonstrates, once again, the failure
of anthropologists, archaeologists, etc, and, especially, their
related magazine editors, in their roles as educators, and, in this
instance, in the 'general' public's 'Need to Know' of what
"sacrifice" is suppose to mean, and the Andean people's 'Need to
Know' of the present disposition of their heritage, and their 'Need
to Participate In It'.

(The episode, also, demonstrates the failure of those sciences, and
related magazines to have educated a Rhodes Scholar, much less, a
Head of State.)

Moreover, the episode deomonstrates the arrogance of those
institutions involved, such as National Geographic, and the
Smithsonian (?), to, if such were the case, not have investigated,
and consulted, peoples such as the Quechuan, as to what their
conditions for due respect might be, if any, and, if having made
such investigations and consultations, not only, not educate the rest
of the world as to what they were, if any, but also tell the world
what they are going to do about abiding by such investigations and
consultations, if any. The same for the conditions implied by an
educated study with consensus of the practices of "Juanita's"
distant peoples.

Is the issue and its episode to be left to evolve to the supposed
alternatives of your conclusion? I propose one might want to also
consider how those 'institutions' involved in the exhibit, will _now_
find out just what those conditions for respect due might be, and how
those 'institutions' are _now_ going to both: incorporate those
considerations in their endeavors, and how they are going to educate
the public to what those incorporations might be. And, if not, then
why such 'institutions' and magazines place themselves above such.

I, for one, do not feel I have to first *purchase* a magazine, or a
museum entry fee, to find out what, if any, such progress might be.

I can only suppose, at this point, just what the dilemma this issue,
and its episode, represents for anthropologists, archaeologists,
magazine editors, etc. might be. Might it be that these scientists,
'editors' and 'institutions' are going to sweep this issue under the
rug, along with the investigations, and educations incumbant, or not?

Might it be that such investigations, and educations be less precious
than the face-saving that such sweeping may emulate for a Head of
State, a Magazine, or Institution might, or should, possibly be?

I can only, also, just suppose that "seeing that... the body is
decently buried/cremated/whatever" cannot be (even to the
interruption, and possible closure of the exhibition) up to the
decency of, at least, present Andeans, and, instead, to what has, at
most, become the indecency of, so far, anyone else.

To not make, and allow for, such considerations, I am sure you would
agree, would be the utmost of: the same cultural arrogance that,
thus far, may have excluded these Andeans, the academic arrogance
that, thus far, has, certainly, excluded many of these fields' own
collegues, and the combination of all these arrogances that may,
thus, still perpetuate itself.

Perhaps its time to release "Juanita" to more competent caretakers,
and their investigating, and their educating, until the matter is
settled --others who are, at least, competent enough to apply their
skills to preserve "Juanita", and her dignity, in her own homeland
--even if it means taking themselves, and their equipment there, to
do it.

To her mountain.

Thank you...

PS: Mike, have you been able to run across that reference in Bernal
Diaz's "The Conquest of New Spain" as being either 'heard' by him or

Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,

John Pastore
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")

"A teepee is a pyramid, isn't it?"