In the opening scene of this volume, we encountered twenty-
year- old Catalina de Velasco, awaiting an interview with Bar-
tolomé de las Casas after having managed to escape a kind of
house arrest in her mistress’s palace. Like dozens of other in-
dios, Catalina relied on the support of the bishop of Chiapas
and others to affirm her identity as a free vassal. Her body bore
no marks of legal branding, and she argued that she originated
from Mexico, in Spanish imperial territory. The sketchy and cir-
cumscribed tale recorded by the court notary is one of loss and
of resolve, but it also reveals larger certainties about paternalism
and bondage and what it meant to be a legal indio in an increas-
ingly globalized world. And this story isn’t just about Catalina;
it is but a fragment of a whole, a refraction of a constellation of
Conclusions
••
In this house there was another india girl thirteen or fourteen years old
who called herself María Madalena and said she was from the village
of Majes. . . . On this occasion Felipa de Vargas [her mistress] said that
the india was from Santa Cruz de la Sierra and was the daughter of Chi-
riguanas [sic] and she had been given to her by doña Inés Chirinos de
Loaysa, wife of don Alonso Mariño de Lovera, saying that [Madalena]
was the daughter of their Chiriguano indio slaves from the war zone
(tierra de guerra). And [Madalena] replied that was not so but rather,
Majes [was her place of origin].
Miguel Contreras, Padrón de los indios de Lima en 1613
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