Bilingual Catechism

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Sources, Artifacts
Date Posted: 9/17/2009

A catechism is a text used to instruct young people and new converts about Christian beliefs. This Catholic catechism was printed in Mexico in 1758 in Spanish and Náhuatl, a language spoken and written by many indigenous people in central Mexico into the early 1800s. The conquest and colonization of the vast territories of Mexico was a long and incomplete process that depended on missionaries as well as soldiers. The destruction of Mexican temples, books, and religious institutions was the first step in Spain's attempt to reordering native societies. Promoting specifically Christian ceremonies like baptism, which imposed new Spanish names, and the sacrament of marriage, which forbid common Mexican practices like polygamy and divorce, were essential steps in acculturating the native population to Spanish social norms. Many early missionaries acted with genuine concern for the spiritual salvation and physical well-being of indigenous communities. However, Spain's more driving concerns were military domination and wealth from mines and agriculture. Its evangelization efforts were used as the ultimate justification for its conquest and rule over indigenous peoples across the Americas.

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.