First Routes: Indigenous Trade and Travel between the American Southwest and Mexico


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2016-2017


First Routes recovers the history of native merchants who forged routes of commercial exchange between the Rio Grande Valley and Central Mexico from circa 1000 to 1848, with a focus on the Spanish colonial period. The north-south rendering of this indigenous network connects the American Southwest to Mesoamerica to counteract national narratives that remain bounded by modern political borders. Zunis, Moquis, Otomis, Nahuas, and other indigenous peoples traded luxury goods and other commodities over long distances, as well as bulk products closer to home, and in this way maintained an enduring indigenous economy. While addressing ecological transformations and changes in political regimes, the study underscores market continuities from the “pre-Columbian” period in order to foreground indigenous permanence.