La Malinche

   Versión en Español

La Malinche, America’s first interpreter  (c1505 -c1529)

Doña Marina, or La Malinche, was the first highly influential interpreter between Europeans and Native Americans.  An aboriginal herself, she formed a strong relationship with Hernán Cortés and facilitated his brutal conquest of Mexico. Although her personal story cannot be confirmed, historians generally accept the following version:
After having been defeated by Cortéz at Pontonchon, the Tabascan people offered gifts to appease the Spanish, and the gifts included several slave women. One of those women, named Malinalli, stood out for her intelligence, confidence, and her knowledge of  several languages.   Her first native tongue was Nahuatl, the language of the gold-rich Aztecs.   Malinalli was baptized Doña Marina, and she became a close ally to Cortés, eventually producing a child with him.  She worked as a trusted interpreter for the conquistadors, and appears to have passed strategic secrets from her native people on to her the Spanish invaders, who were her adoptive family. Her Christian name was later re-indigenized into Malintzín, and this name found its way into history as La Malinche.
In the progression of Mexican history, this influential woman became a symbol of treachery among the Mexican people, although more recently her legacy has been re-examined.   The Mexican people must find it hard to forgive the woman who aided the Spanish conquistadors.  However, many recognize that the story of La Malinche is one of a powerful woman who used her intelligence to survive and who represents the complex nature of mixture of cultures that is Mexico.

Sources: de La Malinche, Bonnie Holmes
Cristina  González-Hernández en su libro Doña Marina (La Malinche) y la formación de la identidad mexicana,

“From la Malinche and Menchú to Modern-Day ‘Mayas’:  Women Forging Paths through the Maze of Higher Education”
Vickie A. Hall, Assistant Professor, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater, Florida

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