Symposium Introduction


Gabriel S. Estrada
Joe Drexler-Dreis
Lori Gallegos
Jacqueline Hidalgo
Ann Hidalgo



In Indian Given María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo addresses current racialized violence and resistance in Mexico and the United States with a genealogy that reaches back to the sixteenth century. Saldaña-Portillo formulates the central place of indigenous peoples in the construction of national spaces and racialized notions of citizenship, showing, for instance, how Chicanos/as in the U.S./Mexico borderlands might affirm or reject their indigenous background based on their location.  In this and other ways, she demonstrates how the legacies of colonial Spain’s and Britain’s differing approaches to encountering indigenous peoples continue to shape perceptions of the natural, racial, and cultural landscapes of the United States and Mexico. Drawing on a mix of archival, historical, literary, and legal texts, Saldaña-Portillo shows how los indios/Indians provided the condition of possibility for the emergence of Mexico and the United States.


Winner, 2017 John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, presented by the American Studies Association

Winner, 2017 National Association for Chicana/Chicano Studies Book Award

Reviews and Endorsements

“The author delves into a large amount of theory and challenges readers to think about how region, history, and identity are part of a complex relationship. Recommended.”
— F. Montoya, Choice

“Saldana-Portillo’s monograph makes critical contributions to the fields of indigenous studies, borderlands studies, American studies, Mexican studies, Chicano/a studies, gender studies, transnational studies, western legal studies, and Southwest studies—just to name a few. Indian Given truly has the potential to help set the agenda in multiple disciplines.”
— John Gram, 
H-Net Reviews

“An eclectic, informative, and entertaining work. . . . Saldaña-Portillo’s work will certainly be an eye-opener for anyone who picks it up.”
— F. Todd Smith, American Historical Review

Indian Given will be of great interest to scholars and university students who explore issues of Indigeneity in Mexico and the United States. Its interdisciplinary inquiry makes an important contribution to the ?eld of Indigenous studies.”
— Emilio del Valle Escalante, 
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association

Indian Given is an important interrogation of racial and knowledge production in the Americas and offers important analyses of how racial geographies figure in the U.S./Mexico borderlands. With Indian Given, María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo gives us the most comprehensive study of indigenous Mexican and Mexican American identity formations to date.”
— Sonia Saldívar-Hull, author of, Feminism on the Border: Chicana Gender Politics and Literature

Indian Given is a transnational scholarly mural, offering a critical account of North America with both exacting specificity and stunning synthesis, all on one continuous canvas. María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo’s archival skills are formidable across centuries, languages, and geographies. Her archive includes not only Las Casas, La Malinche, and Geronimo, but also Javier Bardem, Oscar Zeta Acosta, and Osama bin Laden. As soon as I finished reading Indian Given, I wanted to start it again.”

— Robert Warrior, editor of,The World of Indigenous North America

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