La Malinche, often referred to as “the mother of all mestizos” is one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history. She’s been called a traitor and a victim. She was a Nahua woman who acted as interpreter for the conquistadors in the early sixteenth century. She had a child with Hernan Cortes named Martín and he is often called the “first mestizo.” Mestizos are the mixed race people of Mexico that make up 60% of the country. Her legend led to the creation of the term “Malinchista.” A Malinchista is a traitor, or someone who denies their Mexican culture in favor of another.
But since the 1950s, female writers have been trying to reclaim and vindicate the story of La Malinche – not just in Mexico but also here in the U.S. Chicana writers relate to La Malinche. They too are stuck between two cultures: their Mexican heritage and the U.S. culture they live their daily lives in.
We look at who La Malinche was and what she has come to represent over time.