Dislocation – Miranda

The Spanish attempts to ride the Indian communities of joyas left the joyas who survived the massacres feeling lost and confused. As Miranda describes, because of the stigma behind joyas their presence in communities was often a danger to the other community members. Some normative Indians rounded up joyas and handed them over to the Spanish for slaughter, driven by fear for the rest of their community. Others simply drove the joya out of the community.

This treatment, after a lifetime of playing important roles in the community and being revered with respect and high esteem, was a huge blow to the joya and as Miranda hypothesizes, must have had a painful impact of them both physically and emotionally.

As the Spanish saw the joya as disobeying their natural gender roles by dressing and living as a woman, they were often forced to live as men inside the missions. After living as a woman, and working and socializing along side other women for their entire life, being thrust into the men’s world would probably have been a frightening and embarrassing experience. With such gender separated work and social areas in native communities, the joya would have no idea how to work and live as a man and among men.

Miranda also discusses the way in which this must have been confusing and difficult for the normative men and women in the communities as well. The men would then have a joya among them who had always been with the women and didn’t know how to work with them, and the women would be missing a part of their group. These men and women would also see a once respected and revered community member being ridiculed, disrespected, and embarrassed in front of the entire community as they are forced to fill a different role.

The joyas were then unable to perform the important ceremonies of the native people of California, which often involved being the undertaker after a death. Since these Indians believed that the afterlife was filled with “both male and female supernatural entities,” the joyas were usually the only people in the community able to handle the dead and the burial. This ceremony was essential for safe travel into the underworld and spiritual safety in the community. Without the joya to perform such duties, the native communities experienced panic and many turned to the Catholic Church out of desperation.

The removal of the joyas from native communities pulled apart their traditions and spiritual ways of life in a way that left them vulnerable to manipulation and domination by the Spanish invaders. As Miranda discusses, because some native people did survive this genocide, the spirit of the joya can never really have died out, and today there is still hope in their reemergence as two-sprit people.


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