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de Don Lázaro Cárdenas  


Āmatlapohualistli de Don Lázaro Cárdenas
A written account concerning Lázaro Cárdenas

Martín N. Méndez Huaxcuatitla

This text was written in the Mösiehuali (Tetelcingo Nahuatl - nhg) language, about the year 1976 or 1977. It tells of General Lázaro Cárdenas, President of México from 1934-1940, and of the relationship between him and the town of Tetelcingo, and particularly the author, Martín Méndez Huaxcuatitla. Ru Marti (as he was known in Mösiehuali) loved to tell this story, and at the urging of Richard S. Pittman he typed up the original of this document. One can almost hear the gusto with which he used to pronounce such resounding phrases as “ca iorden del Señor Presidente Don Lázaro Cárdenas” ‘by order of the lord President Sir Lázaro Cárdenas.’ (090).

This account is of considerable historical value because of the authentic view it gives, from an indigenous perspective, of one of the greatest figures of Mexican history; and also because of its description of the beginning of the friendship between Cárdenas and William Cameron Townsend, which was of such importance to the beginnings of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.*

Among the noteworthy characteristics of this text are two worth giving special mention: (1) The frequency and ease with which Ru Marti switches from Mösiehuali to Spanish and back. Even in the 1970’s this was quite typical for Mösiehuali speakers, because of the high incidence of bilingualism in the population. (2) Ru Marti’s rhetorical ability, which was a unique and individual gift of his own. The story of the dog and the tortillas, for example, is no mere clumsy digression. It is at once an interesting personal anecdote; an exercise in self-deprecating humor, fitting in with such humorous and self-deprecating touches as the pictures of himself as a rich man stripped bare (sentences 145-146) or as a squatter (163-164); an extended metaphor or parable (an “example”, Ru Marti calls it in (160)) of the difficulties one can undergo even when it has seemed that one's problems were taken care of; a skillful way to allude to his present difficulties without sounding like a complainer; and a lead-in for the expression of his hope that, despite the impermanent nature of their effects in this life, the excellencies of Cárdenas (and of other worthy people such as the author himself) will be recognized in the world to come.

The following divisions of the text will help the reader to locate the different kinds of material that Ru Marti included in his account.

  • 001-013 Prologue: An appreciation of Lázaro Cárdenas
  • 014-024 The expropriation of the oil industry and the friendship between Cárdenas and Townsend
  • 025-052 Cárdenas visits Tetelcingo: first meeting of Cárdenas and Townsend
  • 053-062 Benefits for Tetelcingo
  • 063-071 Second and third visits of Cárdenas to Tetelcingo
  • 072-088 Cárdenas’ interview with Martín Méndez
  • 089-120 Further benefits for Tetelcingo
  • 121-141 The legacy of Cárdenas
  • 142-145 Gratitude of Martín Méndez towards Cárdenas
  • 146-164 Current difficulties of Martín Méndez; anecdote of the dog and the tortillas
  • 165-171 Rewards in the world to come
  • 172-175 Epilogue
  • Notes

Lázaro Cárdenas del Río
President of México 1934-1940

Prologue: An appreciation of Lázaro Cárdenas

001 Amo nochi tlachihualistli de Don Lázaro nicpohuas, pero
not all deed of sir Lazarus but

    nicnequi nitlaānas desde cuac otlajtojcātic Carrānza. I.will.take.stuff.up from when he.governed Carranza
I won't tell about everything President Cárdenas did, but I'd like to start from the administration of Carranza.


002 Desde ipa inu tiempo, nionāqui de tlātlajtohuanime de
from that time nobody of governing.ones of

    nochi Miexijco oquitlajpalo sente pueblo para quijtas tli
all Mexico he.visited one village for what

    necesidades quipiya.            
Since back in that time, none of the national rulers of Mexico ever visited a village to find out what its needs were.[1]


003 Tlā quijtus quitlajpalohua sente estado, quimāmajqui miac escolta
if one state they.bore.him much escort

    para quixutisqui.
If one of them visited a state, a large escort would go with him to protect him.


004 ¿Tli ipampa oquimāmajqui miyac escolta?
what they.bore.him much escort
¿Why would they go with a large escort?


005 Por que amo oquipijpiyaya confiānza ca pueblos.
for that not confidence with villages.
Because they mistrusted the people in the villages.


006 Pero Cárdenas amo oquipix desconfiānza ca pueblos.
but Cárdenas not distrust with villages
But Cárdenas did not mistrust the village people.


007 Omāsu para nochi pueblos humildes quieme Tetelcingo.
he.stretched.his.hand/arm.out for all villages humble like Tetelcingo
He opened his arms to humble villages like Tetelcingo.


008 Tetelcingo oquipix inu privilegio.
Tetelcingo that privilege
Tetelcingo had that great privilege [of having Cárdenas visit there].


009 Cuac Cárdenas quintlajpalojtinemia pueblos, amo oquipiyaya necesidad para
when Cárdenas he.was.going.around.visiting.them villages not necessity for

    quinbicatinemis soltārojte quiemi ocsequi tlātlajtoānime quichihuaya.
he.will.go.around.taking.them soldiers like others governing.ones
When Cárdenas went around visiting the villages, he didn't need to take a bunch of soldiers around with him, the way the other rulers did.


010 Cárdenas oquimprubejijtac tli porubejte.
Cárdenas he.saw.them.poor that poor.ones
Cárdenas had compassion on the poor.


011 Cárdenas amo sa mochijchicuatlasojtlac.
Cárdenas not only he.crookedly.loved.himself
Cárdenas' love was not self-centered, but was sincere.


012 Cárdenas oquitlapo iyulo para nochi itlācaicnihua tli chāntijticate
Cárdenas his.heart for all that they.are.dwelling

    ipa ini nānca āltepietl de Miexijco. this here country of Mexico
Cárdenas opened his heart to all his fellow-men who live in this country of Mexico.


013 Cárdenas, por cuali iyulo nochi quiejquich caltientlāca oquipixqui
Cárdenas for good his.heart all how.many farmers they.had.him

    quienami sente teocuitlatl.
like one treasure
Because of his good heart, all the country folk considered Cárdenas to be a treasure.

Cardenas on horseback greeting a group of country folk
Cárdenas quintlasojtlaya caltientlāca hua yejua oquipixqui quienami sente teocuitlatl
Cárdenas loved the country folk and they considered him to be a treasure

The expropriation of the oil industry and the friendship between Cárdenas and Townsend

014 Cárdenas oquichi miyac obras ipa nochi ininānca āltepietl
Cárdenas many works all country

    de Miexijco.
of Mexico
Cárdenas did many good things all over the Republic of Mexico.


015 Cuac tlajtohuanijtic tocni Cárdenas nochi inu campos petroleros
when he.governed Cárdenas all those fields petroleum.producing

    de ini nānca āltepietl, omohuaxcatijqui compañías extranjeras.
of this here country they.took.possession companies foreign
When our brother Cárdenas became president, foreign companies had taken over all the oil fields of the country.


016 Pero cuac otlajtojcātic totlajtojcā Cárdenas, yaja omocuajpitso para
but when he.became.leader our.leader Cárdenas he he.became.tough for

    ocsajpa ini nānca toāltepie oquireconociero, noso omohuaxcati.
again this here or he.took.possession
But once Cárdenas was in power, he acted strongly bring recognition to the nation once again; he laid claim [to the oil industry].


017 Compañías extranjeras ocuajcualānqui contra Cárdenas.
companies foreign against Cárdenas
The foreign companies became angry with Cárdenas.


018 Pero ipa inu tiempo, Don Guillermo C. Townsend
but that tiempo, sir William C. Townsend

    oquijcuilojqui miyactie librojte ca inglés, cāni tlajtlajtulohuaya many books English where he.H.was.speaking

    a favor de toāltepie, hua de Cárdenas,
at favor of and of Cárdenas

    hua de tli justicia hua deriecho quināmiquiya toāltepie.
and of what justice and right
But in that time, Mr. William C(ameron) Townsend wrote many books and articles in English, in which he defended our country and Cárdenas, and spoke in favor of the rights and justice due to our country.[2]


019 Don Guillermo obilohuac ca Estados Unidos.
sir William he.H.went with States United
Mr. Townsend went to the United States.


020 Otiecājtiehualuc tiesohua Doña Elvira hua obilohuac.
he.H.left.her.H his.H.woman madam Elvira and he.H.went
He left his wife, Madam Elvira, (en Tetelcingo) when he went.


021 Bejcābihua yieyi mietstli.
he.H.delays.away three moon
He was gone three months.


022 Oquichijqui miyac propaganda a favor de toāltepie. much propaganda at favor of
He produced a lot of publicity in favor of our country.


023 Hua por inu sacrificio tli oquichijqui Don Guillermo,
and for that sacrifice that sir William

    por inu tequitl tli oquichijqui, Cárdenas otiereconociero quienami
for that work that Cárdenas he.recognized.him.H like

    sente ciudadano de toāltepie, quiemi mexicano.
one citizen of like Mexican
And because of this sacrifice and labor of Mr. Townsend's, Cárdenas considered him to be a citizen of our country, a Mexican.


024 Ipa inu tiempo, Don Guillermo ca totlajtojcā that time sir William with our.leader

    Cárdenas nechijchihualuc lalibis amigos.
Cárdenas they.H.made.each.other very friends
At that time, Mr. Townsend and our President Cárdenas became fast friends.


Cárdenas visits Tetelcingo: first meeting of Cárdenas and Townsend

025 Don Guillermo Townsend, antes de que yejuatsi quichihuas
sir William Townsend, before of that he.H

    propaganda de in[u] expropiación de inu campos petroleros,
propaganda of that expropriation of those fields petroleum-producing

    cuac chāntihuaya ca tlaijtec ipa inu plazuela -
when he.H.was.dwelling with inside that little.plaza -

    ipa inu tiempo Cárdenas totlajtojcā oquivisitāro topueblo that time Cárdenas our.leader our.village

    de māsiehualte.
of natives.of.Tetelcingo
In the time before Mr. William Townsend started his publicity campaign regarding the expropriation of the oil fields, when he was living in the central square [of Tetelcingo], our President Cárdenas visited the village of us Mösiehuali speakers.


026 Ye cuaquinu naja niyeya de tlajtohuani ipa topueblo
already when.that I I.was of authority our.village
I was village mayor at the time.[3]


027 Ipa inun tunalte oncā oyejyeya profesores amo tlamachtiyāya. those days here they.were professors not they.were.teaching
There were some schoolteachers living there at the time who didn't teach very much.


028 Pero oyejyeya esfiela; ompa ochajchāntijtaya.
but they.were escuela there they.were.dwelling
But they were in the school, in fact they lived there.


029 Belis otiyejyeya quiemi a las diez de ca
possibly we.were like at the ten of with

    isi cuac naja niyehuataya ipa āmāyetl[4] ixpa ayudantía,
early when I I.was.seated amate.trunk town.hall

    cuac sa de repiente oniquijtac sente quixtiyāno ohualāya
when only of sudden I.saw.him one outsider[5] he.was.coming

    ca notlac, de tejāno, de pantalo, hua de
with of Texan(hat) of trousers and of

It must have been about ten o'clock one morning, when I was sitting in front of the town hall on an amate tree trunk, when I suddenly saw a stranger from the city approaching me, dressed in a cowboy hat, citified trousers, and a jacket.

Cardenas viajando
Oniquijtac se quixtiyāno de tejano, de pantalón y de chaquieta
I saw a stranger from the city, dressed in a cowboy hat, trousers, and a jacket

030 Naja amo onicchi cāso de yaja.
I not notice of he
I didn't pay any attention to him.


031 Naja nicseguiro niyehuatica ipa inu āmāyetl.
I that trunk
I stayed there, sitting on the trunk.


032 Por fin omopacho notlac hua oniechtlajpalo.
for end he.approched and
Finally he came up and greeted me.


033 Nuyijqui naja onictlajpalo, pero niyehuatica.
also I I.greeted.him but
I greeted him back, but stayed sitting there.


034 Ye cuaquinuju oniechilfi inu quixtiyāno, -¿Amo tiniechixomati?
already when.that that outsider not
Then this outsider said to me "Don't you recognize me?"


035 Naja oniquilfi, -Amo, Señor.
I not sir
"No, sir," I said.


036 Yaja oniechilfi, -Naja niPresidente de la República, Lázaro
he I I.president of the republic Lazarus

He said to me, "I am Lázaro Cárdenas, President of the Republic."


037 Ye cuaquinuju onoquetstiquis hua onitieilfi[6] ca en castilla,
already when.that I.suddenly.stood.myself.up and with Castilian

    -Señor Presidente ¡perdóneme!
sir president
I jumped to my feet and said to him, in Spanish, "Señor President, forgive me!


038 No le conocía.
not you I.was.knowing
I didn't realize who you were."


039 Cárdenas oniechtlajtlani hua oniechilfi, —¿Āquimejua chajchānti ijtec
Cárdenas and who.are.they they.dwell

    inu cali?
that house
Cárdenas asked me, "Who are the people that live in that house over there?" en esa casa?


040 Naja oniquilfi, -Yejua profesores.
I they professors
"They are some schoolteachers," I told him.


041 Oniechilfi, -Xiquintsajtsili ma hualācā. may they.should.come
"Go call them," he told me, "and tell them to come here."


042 Ye cuac inu naja onomerā oniquintsajtsilito.
already when that I I.ran I.went.and.called.them
So I ran and called them.


043 Yejua ohualajqui.
they they.came
They came.


044 Otlajtojqui ca yaja.
they.spoke with he
They spoke with him.


045 Ocsajpa oniechtlajtlani neli āquinu chānti itsintla mimisquicuabitl.
again reportedly who.that he.dwells mesquite.palo
Then he spoke to me again, and asked me who was living under the mequite tree.


046 Naja oniquilfi, -Señor Presidente, chānti sente americano.
I sir president he.dwells one American
"Mr. President", I said, "an American lives there.


047 Naja onicmacac permiso para ma mochānti oncā ca
I I.gave.him permission for may he.make.himself.dwell here with

    tejua para tiechpaliebi ipa ini nānca plazuela.
we for this here little.plaza
I gave him permission to live here in the town square with us and help us."

The Townsends in front of their house ca. 1939
Itsintla mimisquicuabitl chānti se americano tli ohuala tiechpaliebico
Under the mesquite tree there an American is living, who came to help us

048 Yaja oniechilfi, -Xictsajtsili ma huala.
he may he.should.come
"Call him and tell him to come," he told me.


049 Naja onomerā onitietsajtsilito Don Guillermo.
I I.ran I.went.and.called.him.H sir William
I went running and called Mr. Townsend.


050 Yejuatsi hualquixohuac, oquitlajpalojqui, hua yaja nuyijqui otietlajpalo.
he.H he.H.emerged.hither he.H.greeted.him and he also he.greeted.him.H
He came out of the house and greeted Cárdenas, and Cárdenas greeted him in return.


051 Ocajcalacohuac ca tiecalijtec Don Guillermo.
they.H.entered with sir William
Together they went into Mr. Townsend's house.


052 Ye ompa onenunutsaluc tieca Don Lázaro Cárdenas, totlajtojcā.
already there he/they.H.talked.together with.him.H sir Lazarus Cárdenas nuestro.líder
There they talked, Mr. Townsend with our President, Lázaro Cárdenas.

Benefits for Tetelcingo

053 Onechijchihualuc amigos, amo sa para yehuatsi Don Guillermo
they.H.made.themselves friends not only for he.H sir William

    ca tiesohua, tlācamo nuyijqui nechijchihualuc amigos ca Presidente
with his.H.woman but also they.H.made.themselves friends with president

    Cárdenas para que topueblo de Tetelcingo quipiyas icnuijtalistli
Cárdenas for that our.village of Tetelcingo pity

    de Cárdenas.
of Cárdenas
They didn't make friends just for the benefit of Mr. Townsend and his wife, but his and President Cárdenas' becoming friends resulted in Cárdenas having mercy on our village of Tetelcingo.


054 Toyesojcāicni Cárdenas, ca Don Guillermo, nechijchihualuc de amistad Cárdenas with sir William they.H.made.themselves of friendship

    amo sa para yejuantsitsi tlācamo asta para tejua
not only for they.H but until for we

    de Tetelcingo.
of Tetelcingo
The friendship which began between Cárdenas, our kinsman, and Mr. Townsend, was not just for the benefit of the two of them, but also for the benefit even of us Tetelcingans.


055 Desde ipa inun tunali que nenojnunutsac, Cárdenas otieilfijtie
from that day that they.H.talked Cárdenas

    Don Guillermo que ipa quiejquich tunalte quihualtitlanis el
sir William that how.many days he.will.send.him.hither the

    Coronel del Río ca sente sementera de turo
colonel of.the river with one breeding.stock of bull

    hua sente vāca, ocsente sementera de chivos, hua
and one cow other breeding.stock of goats and

    ocsente sementera de pitsome.
other breeding.stock of hogs
On that day when they first talked, Cárdenas left Don Guillermo with the promise that in a few days he would send Colonel Del Río with good breeding stock for cattle, goats, and hogs.


056 Pos melāhuac.
well true
And sure enough, he did.


057 Ipa quiejquich tunalte ohuala Coronel del Río ca how.many days he.came colonel of.the river with

    sente camión lalibis bieyi cāni quihualicaya inu yulcāme
one truck very big where those animals

    tli oquijtojtie Cárdenas.
that Cárdenas
A few days later, here came Colonel Del Río with a very big truck, bringing the animals Cárdenas had promised.

Townsend sitting on the bull
Don Guillermo Townsend yehualutica ipan turo tli Cárdenas oquinmacac māsiehualtie
Townsend seated on the bull that Cárdenas gave to the people of Tetelcingo

058 Sātiepa de ini nānca, ca iorden del General
afterwards of this here with his.order of.the General

    Don Lázaro, ohuala Lic.
sir Lázaro, he.came Bachelor.of.Law
    Genaro Vázquez ca Profesor Uranga.
Genaro Vázquez with professor Uranga
After this happened, Mr. Genaro Vázquez and Professor Uranga came, under orders from General Cárdenas.


059 Lic. Genaro Vázquez ipa inu tiempo oyeya Jefe del
Bachelor.of.Law Genaro Vázquez that time he.was chief of.the

    Departamento del Trabajo, hua Profesor Uranga oyeya Vocal
department of.the work and professor Uranga he.was representative

    de inu Departamento.
of that department
At that time, Mr. Genaro Vázquez was head of the Department of Labor, and Professor Uranga was official representative of the same Department.


060 Pos ohualajqui inu unteme personas por mando de
well they.came those two persons for command of

    Don Lázaro Cárdenas para ma quiinspeccionārucā tlālte de
sir Lazarus Cárdenas for may lands of

    riego de Casasāno.
irrigation of Casasano
These two came by order of President Cárdenas to examine the irrigated lands near the town of Casasano.


061 Oncā ochicumetijqui asta senamo oquiyequijijtaqui inu tlālte.
here until that.not those lands
They spent a week here, not leaving until they had checked those lands out thoroughly.


062 Ye cuac inu oyajqui.
already when that they.went
Then they left.


Second and third visits of Cárdenas to Tetelcingo

063 Sātiepa de miyac tunalte Cárdenas ohuala ocsajpa.
afterwards of many days Cárdenas he.came again
A good while later Cárdenas came again.


064 Pero para cuac inuju, Don Guillermo ayecmo chāntihuaya
but for when that sir William no.longer he.H.dwelt

    pan plazuela tlācamo ye chāntihuaya ipa icorrāl de
in little.village.square but already he.H.dwelt his.corral of

    Don Refugio Rodríguez.
sir Refugio Rodríguez
By then Mr. Townsend had moved from the village square to a lot belonging to Mr. Refugio Rodríguez.


065 Ipa incorrāl ocsajpa otietlajpaluco Cárdenas. their.corral again Cárdenas
There in that lot Cárdenas visited Mr. Townsend again.


066 Ocsajpa onenunutsaluc Don Guillermo ca toyesojcāicni Cárdenas.
again he.H.talked sir William with Cárdenas
Once again Mr. Townsend talked with our kinsman Cárdenas.


067 Cárdenas otiemacac Don Guillermo sequi piezas de telas
Cárdenas he.gave.him.H sir William some pieces of cloths

    hua pantalunte de meztlilla para ma quinmajmacacā giente
and trousers of denim for may people

    de tochā.
of our.home
Cárdenas gave Mr. Townsend some lengths of cloth and some denim pants for him to give to our villagesfolk.

Mujeres de Tetelcingo con sus hijos
Sohuame māsiehualtie ca tiehua impiljua, hua sente bescomatl
Tetelcingan women with their children, and a bescomatl granary in the background

068 Nuyijqui telas oquixiexelojqui ca sohuame de nicā tochā.
also cloths with women of here our.home
The cloths he also distributed among our village's women.

Sewing with a machine donated by Cárdenas
Sente sohuatl tlajtzoma ca sente mācna oquitiemacac Cárdenas
A woman of Tetelcingo sewing on a machine donated by Cárdenas

069 Para ca yexpa ohuala Cárdenas.
for with three.times he.came Cárdenas
A third time Cárdenas came.


070 Ye oquihualicac isohua ca itielpuch Cuauhtemoc.
already he.brought.her his.woman with his.son Cuauhtémoc
He brought his wife, and his son Cuauhtémoc.


071 Ipa inu tiempo oc tsitsiquitsi oyeya. that time yet little he.was
He was still a little boy at that time.

La familia Cárdenas
Don Lázaro Cárdenas ca tiehua Doña Amalia hua Cuauhtémoc
Lázaro Cárdenas with his wife Amalia and son Cuauhtémoc

Cárdenas' interview with Martín Méndez

072 Cuac ca ujpa ohuala Cárdenas, oquinunutsqui Don Guillermo
when with two.times he.came Cárdenas he.H.talked.with.him sir William

    que naja oniyeya de soltāro, hua Cárdenas oquinec
that I I.was of soldier and Cárdenas

During Cárdenas' second visit, Mr. Townsend told him that I had been a soldier, and Cárdenas wanted to get to know me.


073 Don Guillermo oquihualicajqui cāni naja niyeya calijtec.
sir William he.H.brought.him where I I.was
Mr. Townsend brought him into the house where I was.


074 Oniechtlajpalo, hua oniechilfi, -¿Taja otiyeya de soltāro? and you you.were of soldier
He greeted me, and asked, "Did you serve as a soldier?"


075 -Melāhuac oniyeya de soltāro, Señor Presidente.
true I.was of soldier sir president
"That is right, I was a soldier, Mr. President."


076 Oniechilfi, -¿Quiejquich xibitl oticchi? how.many leaf
"How many years did you do?" he asked me.


077 Naja oniquilfi, -Majtlactli huan ume xibitl onicchi ipa
I ten and two leaf

    inu ejército.
that army
"I did twelve years in the army," I responded.


078 -¿Hua amo tli otictlā?
and not what
"And, weren't you paid anything from your service?"


079 Oniquijto, -Amo yitla onictlā.
I.said not algo
"I didn't get a thing," I said.


080 -Pos xiquijta.
"Look here.


081 Naja timitztlāocolis sente terreno para ica tomopaliebis.
I one property for
I will give you a piece of property for you to make your living with.


082 Naja oniquijto, -Tlasojcāmati Señor Presidente.
I I.said gracias sir president
"Thank you, Mr. President!" I said.


083 Yaja oniechilfi, -Xikpejpena semillas de ini xuchitl tli
he seeds of this flower that

    taja ticpiya para nochā.
you for my.home
He told me, "Pick out some seeds from this flower that you have, for me to take home with me."


084 Hua uya Cárdenas ca tiecalijtec Don Guillermo.
and he.went Cárdenas with sir William
And Cárdenas went back to Mr. Townsend's house.


085 Naja sanima onictejtec inu semilla.
I immediately that semilla
I immediately cut off some seeds of the kind he'd asked for.


086 Onictlāli ijtec sente puxajtli de āmatl hua onicmacato. one bag of paper and
I put them in a paper bag and went to give it to him.


087 Por fin uya Don Lázaro ca Miexijco.
for end he.went sir Lazarus with Mexico
And finally President Cárdenas went back to Mexico.


088 Don Guillermo onecāhualuc.
sir William he.H.left.himself
Mr. Townsend remained behind.

Ru Marti Méndez with his family
Ru Marti Méndez ca tiehua Xohuānajtzi hua imichpuch Eusebia
Martín Méndez with his wife Juana and daughter Eusebia

Further benefits for Tetelcingo

089 Pero ipa quiejquich tunalte nuyijqui Don Guillermo obiloac
but how.many days also sir William he.H.went

    ca Miexijco.
with Mexico
But a few days later, Mr. Townsend also went to Mexico.


090 Mientras Don Guillermo ilohuaya ompa Miexijco, oasico Profesor
mientras sir William he.H.was there Mexico he.arrived.hither professor

    Uranga, ca Ingeniero Juan Soto, ca iorden del
Uranga with engineer Juan Soto with his.order of.the

    Señor Presidente Don Lázaro Cárdenas.
sir president sir Lazarus Cárdenas
While Mr. Townsend was in Mexico, Professor Uranga arrived with an engineer named Juan Soto, armed with an order from the President of México, Lázaro Cárdenas.


091 Sanima opiejqui tejtequiti.
immediately they.began
They went right to work.


092 Sanima oquinutsqui Comisariado.
immediately they.called.him commissioner
First thing they called the lands commissioner.


093 Cuac inuju oyeya yaja Carrillo.
when that he.was he Carrillo
It was, at that time, a man by the name of Carrillo.


094 Profesor Uranga sanima oquicu tlāli de Miguel Bobalillo.
professor Uranga immediately land of Michael Bobalillo
Professor Uranga immediately bought some land from Miguel Bobalillo.


095 Nuyijqui oquicu tlāli de Tules Gadea.
also land of Tules Gadea
He also bought some land from Tules Gadea.


096 Quiplantārojqui miyac tareas[7] de alāxoxcuajme ipa inu cāmpo many sections of orange.trees that campo

    de Mātaliyu.
of Lionkiller
They planted a large orange grove in the Mataleón field.


097 Oquichijchijqui unte calme, sente para sente motor eléctrico, two houses one for one motor electric

    hua inu ocsente para mochāntis āqui tlajpiyas ipa
and that for he.will.dwell who

    inu alāxoxcuajcamac.
those orange.trees
They built two houses, one for an electric motor, and the other for a caretaker for the orange grove.


098 Ipa inu cali para motor eléctrico, santequitl oquisencājqui that house for motor electric

    huan oquichijchijqui, oquihualicaqui inu motor.
and that motor.
As soon as the house for the electric motor was finished, they brought the motor itself.


099 Ica inu motor quitiemacaya tlābili para topueblo. that motor they/ light for our.village
With that motor our village was provided with electric light.


100 Nuyijqui oquitiemacaqui sente camiyu de cārga.
also one camión of burden
They also gave the village a cargo truck.


101 Oquicuitijqui sitlali. star
It was called "The Star".


102 Oquihualicaqui sente mierco para tlapajtis.
they.brought.him one medic for he.will.heal
They brought a doctor to provide medical service.


103 Oquicujqui ocsente tlāli.
they.bought land
They bought another piece of property.


104 Profesor Uranga omonunutz ica Casasaniero, Ru Antonio, hua
professor Uranga chatted with.him Casasanero sir Anthony and

    oquicubili ocsente tlāli para Martín Méndez (naja).
he.bought.from.him other land for Martín Méndez I
Professor Uranga made a deal with Mr. Antonio Casasanero, and he bought another piece of land for Martín Méndez (that is, for me).


105 Oquicubili aproximada mente como 26 tareas.
he.bought.from.him approximate ly like 26 sections
He bought land amounting to about 26 sections.[7]


106 Pero ininānca tareas de tlāli omoxiexelo para tli
but sections of land it.was.split.and.distributed for that

    cachi porubejte.
more poor.ones
But these sections were distributed among the poorest of us.


107 Profesor Uranga oquitlāli Ingeniero Juan Soto para ma
professor Uranga he.put.him engineer Juan Soto for may

    quitietequi por lotes. for lots
Professor Uranga put the engineer, Juan Soto, in charge of dividing up the land into lots.

Don Lázaro Cárdenas hua Profesor Javier Uranga ipa Tetelcingo
Cárdenas and Professor Javier Uranga in Tetelcingo

108 Inu lotes oquisqui quiemi ca nānābi tareas cara
those lotes they.came.out like with four.each sections each

    sente lote.
one lot
The lots amounted to about four sections each.


109 Nuyijqui oquitlālijqui sente cāye de majtlactli mietro ca
also one street of ten meter with

    patlāhuac, hua quiemi nābi cientos ca biyac.
wide and like four hundred with long
They also laid down a street ten meters wide and about four hundred meters long.


110 Nuyijqui oquicujqui alāmbre motsacuasqui cada sente lote.
also wire they.will.(en)close.themselves each one lot
They also bought wire fencing to enclose each lot.


111 Oquinchijchijqui calme de adubes.
they.built.them houses of adobes
They built some adobe houses.


112 Oquicujqui tiejaste hua madera para techos, para pobieltajte tiles and wood for roofs for doors

    hua ventānajte.
and windows
They bought tiles and wood for the roofs, doors, and windows.


113 Cuac ye oquinsencājqui inu calte, cara sesen tlācatl
when already they.finished.them those houses each individual man

    oquinmajmacaqui escrituras.
they.gave.them titles
When they finished the houses, they gave each man the title to his land.


114 Oquitlālijqui nuyijqui sente internado de agricultura. also one of agriculture
They also started a boarding school teaching agricultural studies.


115 Oncā oyejyeya unte ingenieros para inu enseñanza.
here they.were two engineers for that teaching
There were two (agricultural) engineers at the school to do the teaching.


116 Ipa inu tiempo otlapaliebiluc nuyijqui yejuatsi Lic. Genaro Vázquez. that time he.H.helped also he.H Bachelor.of.Law Genaro Vázquez
Mr. Genaro Vázquez was also helping in these things.[8]


117 Ipa inu tiempo oyilohuaya de Procurador de la that time H.era of procurador of the

By that time he was Attorney General of the Nation.


118 Oquitlālijqui sente cañería desde Pasolco asta alāxox cuajcamac. one tubery from Pasulco until orange grove
They laid pipes from Pasulco to the orange grove.


119 Oquixiexelojqui tlāli de riego. land of irrigation
They distributed irrigated lands to us.


120 Chichicuasien tarea oquintocāro cara sesen tlācatl de Tetelcingo.
six.each section it.touched.them each individual man of Tetelcingo
Every single man of Tetelcingo received about six sections.


The legacy of Cárdenas

121 Nochi ini nānca omochi ipa topueblo de Tetelcingo,
all this here it.made.itself our.village of Tetelcingo

    porque Don Lázaro Cárdenas otiechtlasojtlac por causa de
because sir Lazarus Cárdenas for cause of

    Don Guillermo C. Townsend, āqui nechāntiluco ipa topueblo.
sir William C. Townsend who our.village
All of this happened here in our village because President Lázaro Cárdenzas loved us, on account of Mr. William Cameron Townsend, who had come to live in our village.


122 Tlā āxā miyactie de tochā tlagozārohua de camiones,
if now many of our.home rejoice of trucks

    de coches, de tractores, de molinos, hua de
of cars of tractors of corn.mills and of

    nochi ocsequi sāsantli, ma tiemotlasojcāmatilicā Dios ca tiehua
all other things may let.them.thank.him.HH God with together.with

    Don Lázaro Cárdenas, ca tiehua Don Guillermo C.
sir Lazarus Cárdenas with together.with sir William C.

    Townsend, Americano, que tohua nechāntiluco.
Townsend, American that he.H.came.and.dwelt
If it is now true (and it is) that many of our fellow-villagespeople rejoice in the possession of trucks, cars, tractors, mills, and such things, they should be grateful to God for them, and also to President Lázaro Cárdenas, and also to Mr. William Cameron Townsend, the American that came to live among us.


123 Martín Méndez otieseli hua otietlāli ināhuajcopa topueblo para
Martín Méndez received.him.H and placed.him.H in.the.middle.of our.village for

    ma quipaliebicā.
I, Martín Méndez, was the one who received him and gave him permission to stay in our village and help us.


124 Yaja inu tequitl oquichi Cárdenas san tlasojtli.
he that work Cárdenas only
Cárdenas did all these things freely, for love of the people.


125 Totlasojcāicni Cárdenas oquicājtie ineljuayo (isohua) hua iretoños (ipiljua). Cárdenas his.root his.woman and his.sprouts his.children
Our beloved brother Cárdenas left behind him his root (his wife) and his sprouts (his children).


126 Sie tunali ineljuayo hua iretoños tiechtlapaluquibe por causa
one day his.root and his.sprouts for cause

    de Don Guillermo Townsend.
of sir William Townsend
One of these days his root and his sprouts will come to visit us on account of Mr. Townsend.


127 ¿Quitlasojcāmati topueblo de ini obra de tlasojtilistli our.village of this work of love

    tli oquichi Cárdenas?
that Cárdenas
Is our village grateful for these works of love that Cárdenas did for them?


128 Tlā nochi ini obra amo niesi ipa topueblo,
if all this work not it.appears our.village

    amo quipiya tlajtlaculi Cárdenas, nimpor Profesor Uranga, ni
not without Cárdenas nor professor Uranga nor

    Don Guillermo, nimpor Martín Méndez, tlācamo yejua enemigos
sir William nor Martín Méndez but they enemies

    de Cárdenas hua de nochi obras de yaja,
of Cárdenas and of all works of he

    es decir, de la buena obra del Señor to.say of the good work of.the sir

    General Cárdenas.
general Cárdenas
If all these good things can no longer be seen in our village, that is not the fault of Cárdenas, nor of Professor Uranga, nor of Mr. Townsend, nor of Martín Méndez, but rather of those who are enemies of Cárdenas and of all his works, that is, of all the good that our President, General Lázaro Cárdenas, did.


129 Āxā noso toyesojcāicni Cárdenas ye omomiquili.
now well Cárdenas already he.H.died
But now, our kinsman Cárdenas has passed on.[9]


130 Tli enemigos de Cárdenas quipijpiya miyak pāquilistli, quiemi
that enemies of Cárdenas much joy like

    tlā yejua ayic mijmiquisqui, pero tejua quiejquich tiquijtaqui
if they never they.will.die but we how.many

    itlachihual hua itlatequipanulis, asta āxā oc tiquilnāmicticate inemilis.
his.deed and until now yet
Cárdenas's enemies are gloating, as if they were never going to die, but we who saw his work and what he accomplished still maintain his memory.


131 Oquicājtie sente bieyi tlanāmiquilistli inca caltientlāca.
he.left.behind.when.he.went one big remembrance with.them farmers
He left us country folk a great legacy of remembrance.


132 Sequi, mās amo cate caltientlāca, pero quijilnāmiqui, porque
algunos although not they.are farmers but they.remember.him because

    itlachihual de Cárdenas omochi ejiemplo ipa nochi āltepietl
his.deed of Cárdenas it.made.itself example all country

    de Miexijco.
of Mexico
And some others, even though they are not country folk, remember him, because Cárdenas's deeds were an example for the whole country.


133 Ipa nochi xijme tli topa panutibitse, ayic otiquijtaqui all leaves that they.come.passing never we.saw.him

    sente āltepietlajtohuani ma quitlajpaluti sente pueblo, hua ma
one national.ruler may one village and may

    quijta tli quipolohua inu pueblo, quiemi Cárdenas oquichi. that that village like Cárdenas
In all the years that have passed over us, no other national ruler has ever been known to visit a village and find out what its needs were, as Cárdenas did.


134 Don Lázaro Cárdenas oquiti[e]mācti iyulo inca caltientlāca, hua
sir Lazarus Cárdenas his.heart with.them farmers and

    campesinos oquimāctijqui inyulo Cárdenas.
farmers their.heart Cárdenas
Cárdenas gave his heart to the country folk, and the country people entrusted their heart to Cárdenas.


135 Por inu nochi caltientlāca oquipixqui confiānza ica Cárdenas,
for that all farmers confidence with Cárdenas

    hua Cárdenas ca campesinos.
and Cárdenas with farmers
Because of this all the country folk trusted Cárdenas very much, and Cárdenas trusted the country people.


136 Por inu confiānza tli oyeya entre Don Lázaro
for that confidence that it.was between sir Lazarus

    para ca campesinos, Cárdenas yajtinemiya ca pan pueblos
for with farmers Cárdenas went.around.going with in villages

    sin pistula, hua sin escolta.
without pistol and without escort
Because of the level of trust that there was between Cárdenas and the country folk, he always went around in the villages without a gun and without an escort.


137 Don Lázaro yajtinemiya ca pan pueblos ca nochi
sir Lazarus went.around.going with in villages with all

    confiānza, quiemi tlā yajtinemisquiyāya intsālā ifamilias de yaja.
confidence like if he.were.going.around.going among.them his.families of he
Mr. Lázaro went around in the villages in full confidence, as if he were going around among his own relatives.


138 Cárdenas amo omoāpartāro de gobierno de ini nānca āltepietl.
Cárdenas not he.pulled.himself.away of government of this here country
Cárdenas did not turn his back on the government of this country.


139 Oyeya unido ica ini gobierno.
he.was unitedo this government
He was united with the government.


140 Nochi ini oquichi para quijtas tlā ocsequi tlātlajtohuanime
all this for if others mandatarios

    quichihua tli tequitl quicājtiehua yaja. that work he
He did this hoping that other government functionaries would do the work that he had left them as a legacy.


141 Por fin Cárdenas oquichijtie tlin cuali, tli yiecniesi
for end Cárdenas that good that it.appears.right

    ipa ini nānca āltepietl de Miexijco. this here country of Mexico
In sum, Cárdenas left as a legacy deeds that were good and beautiful in appearance, in this country of Mexico.


Gratitude of Martín Méndez towards Cárdenas

142 Principalmente naja oniejchibili tlin cuali, porque oniechtlāocoli sie
principally I that good because one

    perāzo tlāli para cāni nitlacuajtas naja ca nosohua,
piece land for where I with my.woman

    ca tiehua nopiljua.
with together.with my.children
More than to others, he did good to me; he gave me a piece of land to sustain me and my wife and children.


143 Ini tlāli, tlā āxā ipa ini nānca tiempo
this land if now this here time

    nicmacani inu tlāli que valierijtica a 30 pesos that land that at 30 pesos

    mietro, ¿quiejquich de tomi nicpiyasquiyāya?
meter how.much of money
If I were to sell that land at the current price of $30 per square meter, how much money would I have?


144 Sanquienica naja nicchihua cuenta, quisa ipa nocuenta setecientos I account it.comes.out my.account seven.hundred

    ochenta mil pesos.
eighty thousand pesos
According to my calculations, it would come to about $780,000 pesos.


145 ¿Amo nirico?
Aren't I a rich man?


Current difficulties of Martín Méndez; anecdote of the dog and the tortillas

146 Pero āxā nicaca nixipetstic.
but now estoy I.naked
But now I am stripped bare.


147 Amo tli nicpiya.
not that
I haven't got a thing.


148 Nochi nohuaxca yesquiyāya inu tlāli.
all mine that land
All that land would have been mine.


149 Cárdenas oniechtlāocoli tlaxcali para naja nijcuas.
Cárdenas tortilla for I
Cárdenas gave me tortillas for me to live on.


150 Nicpohuas tepitsi tli nopa omochi sie tunali de a.bit that it.made.itself one day of

    cuac naja niyajtinemiya ca soltārojte.
when I I.was.going.around.going with soldiers
Let me tell a little story from my time in the army.


151 Ye sie tunali otiquisqui de partida, hua otasito
already one day we.went.out of outing and

    itsintech inu tepietl itucā La Malinchi.
at.its.base that mountain the Malinche
One day we went out on a mission and fetched up at the foot of the Malinche volcano.


152 Itsintech inu tepietl ompaca sente pueblo.
at.its.base that mountain one village
There is a village there at the foot of the mountain.


153 Ipa inu pueblo otasito quieme ca pa ume ura. that village like with two hora
We arrived in the village about two in the afternoon.


154 Sente teniente itucā Juan Moncebais oniechmacac sie pieso,
one lieutenant John Moncebáis one peso

    neli para ma nocubi tlaxcali para ma nitlacua.
reportedly for may tortilla for may yo.coma
A lieutenant, whose name was Juan Moncebáis, gave me a peso to go buy some tortillas for my food.


155 Cuac naja onijcohuato inu tlaxcali hua ye nicbicats
when I that tortilla and already

    nomātla, onicnāmic sente chichitu bieyi. I.met.him one dog big
I'd bought the tortillas and was bringing them back in my hand, when I met a big dog.


156 Pos cuac naja onicmat, inu chichitu ocasitiquis inu
well when I that dog that

    tlaxcali hua oniechmācuilisquiyāya.
tortilla and
Before I realized what was up, that dog had snatched at my tortillas and nearly yanked them out of my hand.


157 Pero naja onijquitsqui chicāhuac, hua amo nochi oquibicac.
but I strong and not all
But I hung on tight to the tortillas, and the dog didn't manage to take the whole thing.


158 Pos niechcājtiebili oc sesen perāso nomāc.
well yet piece
He went off, leaving me there with just a piece or two in my hand.


159 Yaja inu onijcua - solo perāzo cojcotocme.
it that - only piece
So, that's what I ate - just the torn pieces.


160 Inu ejiemplo nopa omochi, pero naja amo nicmatiya
that example it.made.itself but I not

    tlā ijquiu nopa mochihuas sātiepa ipa nopueblo.
if thus it.will.make.itself afterwards my.village
So, that's what happened to me, as an example, but I didn't realize it was going to happen to me again in my own village.


161 Don Lázaro Cárdenas niechtlāocolijtiejqui miyac tlaxcali para nijcuajtas,
sir Lazarus Cárdenas much tortilla for

    hua cali para cāni ninemis ca nosohua hua nopiljua.
and house for where with my.woman and my.children
Mr. Lázaro Cárdenas left behind him, as a gift to me, many tortillas to eat, and a house where I could live with my wife and children.


162 Pero āxā amo nicpiya cāni ninemis.
but now not where
But now I don't have a place to live.


163 Solo ninemi tiepal Don Guillermo C. Townsend.
only by.kindness.of sir William C. Townsend
I'm just living like a squatter, by the kindness of Mr. William Cameron Townsend.


164 Pero cuac mustla bictla nitlaxijtlatis, es seguro que
but when tomorrow day.after.tomorrow I.cause.disgust sure that

    niechtojtocasqui, porque sa tiepal nicaca noso ninemi. because only by.kindness or
But one of these days, when I wear out my welcome, like as not they'll run me off, because I'm just here like a squatter.


Rewards in the world to come

165 Naja nicpiya sente cali ilficac, cāni uya Cárdenas.
I one house heaven where he.went Cárdenas
I have a house in heaven, where Cárdenas has gone.


166 Cuac naja o nocuerpo motlālpachuti, noālma iyās ilficac.
when I or my.body it.will.go.bury.itself my.soul it.will.go heaven
When they bury me, or rather my body, my soul will go to heaven.


167 Ompa niquijtas hua niechijtas.
there I.will.see.him and
There I will see him and he will see me.


168 Ompa tlātlalnāmictisqui de lo que tli tlachihuali tijcājtiejqui
there they.will.remember.things of that that that deed

    ipa ini nānca tlālticpactli. this here world
There there will be remembrance of the deeds we have left behind us on this earth.


169 Cárdenas ayecmo quiema quijtasqui nimpor ayecmo quiema hualās
Cárdenas no.longer when they.will.see.him nor no.longer when he.will.come

    ipa nānca tlāli, pero nochi amigos yāsqui cāninca Cárdenas. here land but all friends they.will.go Cárdenas
No one will see Cárdenas any more on this earth, but all those who are friends will go there where Cárdenas is.


170 Mās enemigos pajpāqui porque Cárdenas ye omomiquili, yejua
although enemies they.rejoice because Cárdenas already he.H.died they

    nuyijqui yāsqui.
also they.will.go
Even though Cárdenas' enemies are happy because he has passed on, they also will go some day.


171 Pero ompa ayecmo āqui iyes jefe.
but there no.longer who chief
But none of us will be the boss up there.



172 Ipa ini nānca āmatl solo niquijcuilohua sa tli this here paper only only that

    oquichi Cárdenas ipa ini nānca pueblo. Cárdenas this here village
In this document I am only writing just about what Cárdenas did in this village.


173 Pero abeli niquijcuilus de tli oquichi ipa ocsequi
but imposible of what others

    pueblos porque amo nicmati nimpor amo oniquijtac tli
villages because not nor not that

I can't write about what he may have done in other villages, because I don't know it, nor did I see what happened in them.


174 Pero niquijcuilohua ini nānca: Nochi ini nānca āltepietl
but this here all this here country

    de Miexijco ca ipiljua chojchuca por Cárdenas.
of Mexico with sus.hijos they.cry for Cárdenas
But I can write this: that this whole country of Mexico and all her children, mourn for Cárdenas.


175 Porque oquicājtie sente bieyi tlalnāmiquilistli quiejquich ipiljua ini
because one big remembrance how.many its.children this

    nānca āltepietl de Miexijco.
here country of Mexico
Because he left as his legacy a great remembrance for all the children of this nation of México.

Cárdenas eating with country people
Cárdenas tlacuajtica inhua caltientlāca
Cárdenas eating with country folk


* The following conventions and symbols are used in these data:

  • Ru Marti (Martín Méndez, the author of this text) preferred to write an ā (a-with-macron), or, on a typewriter, ä (a-with-dieresis), for the vowel written as ö in other orthographies. In this electronic version it is represented as ā. It corresponds to the long a of Classical Nahuatl and other modern dialects. See the page on the vowels of Mösiehuali.
  • Other orthographic preferences of Ru Marti are also preserved, such as the use of ts instead of tz or the spelling of the sequence [Iya] as iya instead of ia.
  • When more than one English word is needed to translate a Mösiehuali word, they are joined with periods. For example, the gloss for quijta is
  • He, him, and his are used to gloss third person singular forms when they are likely to be human, even though animacy and gender are not conveyed by the Mösiehuali forms. Similarly, it is used when the third person singular entity is most likely non-human. Independent pronouns are glossed as if nominative (I, he, we, they) even if in context they are used as objects: the Mösiehuali forms have no indication of grammatical case.
  • Honorific or reverential forms are marked with H.. For example, the gloss for quijtalo is, that is, "honorable 3rd person singular sees 3rd person singular", or the gloss for tieijta is he.sees.him.H, that is, "3rd person singular sees honorable third person singular". Extra-honorifics are marked HH.
  • The particle ma which precedes many subjunctives is glossed may. It does not indicate (epistemic) possibility or (deontic) permission as might be supposed from the gloss.

[1]We have generally glossed and translated the word pueblo as village rather than town. This was done as an attempt to preserve the strong distinction in Ru Marti's usage, and in Mösiehuali generally, between the people of the pueblos, who are considered country folk, and city people. The contrast shows up quite clearly several places in this text, e.g. in the general equation between the people of the pueblos and the caltientlācah 'people of the fields' or campesinos, both glossed as farmers but sometimes translated as "country folk". (See sentences (6-13) and especially (131-137).)

[2]Ru Marti consistently uses honorific forms (glossed with H.) when speaking of Townsend, but does not use them with reference to Cárdenas. This is not for lack of respect towards Cárdenas, of course. But Cárdenas had died several years previously (in 1970), and in some sense had become converted into a historical personage. Townsend, however, was still alive, and was considered by Ru Marti as a patrón (employer or patron). In Mösiehuali one speaks of any living adult in the community, and particularly of one's patrón, with honorific forms. Ru Marti also speaks with honorifics of Townsend's first wife, Elvira Townsend (in sentence (20)), even though she had died more than thirty years previously. Probably this was out of consideration for Townsend, bearing in mind the probability that he would be reading the document.

[3]This first visit of Cárdenas to Tetelcingo took place on the 21st of January, 1936.

     Tetelcingo is part of the municipio (township or municipality) of Cuautla, and the mayor of the village is officially called the "ayudante municipal" to the "presidente municipal" ("municipal helper" to the "municipal president"), that is, to the President or Mayor of Cuautla. For this reason the town hall of Tetelcingo, where the "ayudante" and other officials have their offices, is called the "ayudantía", rather than the "presidencia" or "palacio municipal" ("municipal palace"), as it is in other Mexican towns.

[4] This word is no longer used commonly, and there is some doubt as to its meaning.

[5]This word, which designates a man who is not from Tetelcingo, especially one from the city, comes from the Spanish word for "Christian". The corresponding word for a woman outsider is xejnula, which comes from Spanish 'señora' 'madam, lady, Mrs.'

[6]Here Ru Marti uses an honorific form of Cárdenas, even though he generally does not do so in this text (see note [2]). This helps express the surprise that he felt when he suddenly realized that this stranger he had been ignoring was someone supremely worthy of respect.

[7]The word translated "section" is an old Spanish term, literally a 'task', designating the amount of land that can be worked over (cleared, plowed, or planted) in a day.

[8]Interestingly, honorifics are used of Mr. Genaro Vázquez in this and the following sentence (117), although they were not earlier (58-59). Perhaps Ru Marti was thinking that Mr. Vázquez was still living and might conceivably read the document.

[9]This honorific form of miqui 'die' is used almost without exception to refer to dead humans; there is something right about saying that it now means '(human) die (realis), pass on', and that it no longer is contrastively marked as honorific.


Photographic credits

Most of the photographs in this document are from the William Cameron Townsend Archives. They are cited with their seven digit identification number from the Archives, and are used by permission.

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