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(MEXICAN MANUSCRIPTS.) A tract denouncing Napoleon and independence, translated into the rarely written Ópata language.  manuscript pages, 12 x 8 1/2 inches, on 3 folding sheets; moderate vermin damage with loss of several words in lower left corner. Sahuaripa, Sonora, 20 May 1814
This manuscript copy of a pamphlet titled "Proclama a los habitantes de ultramar" ("Proclamation to the Inhabitants of the Overseas Territories") is here translated into Ópata by several anonymous translators. It is transcribed in parallel Spanish and Ópata by Fr. Dionicio Oñaederra, who concludes the manuscript with notes on the translation and production of the text which yield insight into the Ópata, their language, and their integration into Spanish society. The Ópata language was indigenous to the northern region of Sonora south of present-day Arizona. The language was in rapid decline by this period, and became extinct in the early 20th century. This work originated as a pamphlet published by Pedro de Alcántara Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Infantado, in Cádiz in 1812. It encouraged Spain's overseas subjects to disregard the false promises of the various Latin American independence efforts, and to have faith in the resistance against Napoleon, reminding his readers of the horrific fate that awaited them if they supported independence. Ópata, a rarely written Uto-Aztecan language, was, by the transcriber Oñaederra's admission, already marginal within 19th century Sonora. In his concluding notes he lamented that, since the Ópata were outnumbered in Sahuaripa by Spaniards and mixed-race castas, their language as spoken in the town was "corrupted" by Spanish. Consequently, the translators did not do a proper job of translating the Spanish text into a pure Ópata understandable by all. He conceded that some neologisms had to be invented in order to properly convey Spanish concepts, and he proposed simplifying the text even further to encourage its intelligibility. Why would the priest have cared so much about ensuring that this pamphlet would be understood by a people that he considered to be a minority where he lived? The Ópata were often formidable opponents of Spanish colonialism, having prevented Spaniards from gaining a foothold in the area for 60 years. They were also crucial allies, necessary for opposing the hostile Apaches. This translation of the Duke of Infantado's appeal, however, whether for its poor grammar or unpersuasive arguments, did not succeed in securing their loyalty; the Ópata would rise up and defeat Spanish forces in several battles in 1820, before finally being subdued.
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