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Spiritual Geographies of Indigenous Sovereignty: Connections of Caxcan with Tlachialoyantepec and Chemehuevi with Mamapukaib

  • Author(s): Ocampo, Daisy
  • Advisor(s): Trafzer, Clifford E.
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-NC-SA' version 4.0 license

This dissertation is a comparative examination of the construction of memory at two indigenous sacred sites, one in the United States and the other in Mexico. This research project juxtaposes two sets of relationships: the Chemehuevi people and their ties with Mamapukaib, or the Old Woman Mountains in the East Mojave Desert, and the Caxcan people and their relationship with Tlachialoyantepec, or Cerro de las Ventanas, in Zacatecas Mexico. This dissertation outlines a personal journey, a process of making connections through indigenous decolonial methodologies, and a research project in histories of both the Chemehuevi and Caxcan and their relationships to sacred mountains. This work emphasizes cultural engagements with performative and phenomenological insights as having historic preservation value. This comparative work (in)forms what I hope is a growing field in History: the study of Native sacred places as sites of ancestral and contemporary sovereignty. This relationship to places is critical to the sovereignty of Chemehuevi and Caxcan people. It is one of the most simplified and overlooked forms of community autonomy and well-being within Native History. These two tribal communities have been historically silenced, deemed too small, and irrelevant by the academe, yet this work demonstrates the need to work with small tribal communities as they are often targeted by colonial processes, many of which persist today. This work finds that future academic research, state and federal governmental policies, and land conservations need to center Indigenous preservation models as proven and sustained means of protecting sacred places for generations to come.

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