Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the so-called “prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor” – a prophecy which supposedly foretold the eventual pan-Indian unity of the indigenous people of the western hemisphere. Whether you believe the prophecy or not, the fact remains that it helped spark various activities among indigenous activists who promoted the creation of a unified bloc against eurocentrism, colonization, imperialism, predatory capitalism, and the further erosion of indigenous cultural patrimony.
Perhaps one of the most popular manifestations of this has been the recurring “Peace and Dignity Journeys” that happen every four years. This event got its start in 1992 during the counter-quincentennial period. It’s a community organized event that prides itself with not having any corporate sponsorship. The journeys begin at two points from opposite ends of North and South America and meet somewhere in the middle-usually in Mexico. While these points might change from one event to the next, in the past they have started from Alaska in the north and Tierra del Fuego in the South.
The idea behind the journeys and the prophecy have motivated countless people over the last 30 years. We don’t take issue with the journeys themselves nor their overall purpose. However, we do question the source of the so-called prophecy, especially its supposed antiquity. Is it really an ancient prophecy dating to the early years of the European invasion of the Americas, and if so, what is the evidence in support of this claim?
Our research has revealed some interesting facts about the prophecy and the movement that inspired it, none of which provide any solid proof that the prophecy – as it’s promoted today– existed before the anti-Columbus activism of the late 20th century. It is a product of that rich trans-national indigenist coalition which has not yet been fully explored.
Kurly Tlapoyawa is an archaeologist, ethnohistorian, and filmmaker. His research covers Mesoamerica, the American Southwest, and the historical connections between the two regions. He is the author of numerous books and has presented lectures at the University of New Mexico, Yale University, San Diego State University, and numerous others. He is currently a professor of Chicano Studies at the Colegio Chicano del Pueblo, a free online educational institution.
Ruben Arellano Tlakatekatl is a scholar, activist, and professor of history. His research explores Chicana/Chicano indigeneity, Mexican indigenist nationalism, and Coahuiltecan identity resurgence. 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.