Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/432

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Now, at last, may the Indians, descendants of the Aztec chief, look up and hope for the development of their race. For the first time in history they have a chance to show whether they are capable of taking a leading place among the races of the earth. Poor fugitives, hiding among the rushes of the lake, some centuries ago, their leaders knew how to build up a powerful, warlike nation, but the people were oppressed by the horrors of a bloody religion, degraded and kept down by the practice of human sacrifice. The Spanish conquest brought them other rulers, and priests who gave to them a kindlier faith; but their minds were little cared for, and they were still oppressed, like slaves, by the new race which came to govern them.

Spanish domination civilized the Indians, but scarcely developed the powers which may exist in their natures. That yoke thrown off, they have seen their day of real freedom once and again postponed, through the personal ambition of their own leaders, or the audacious interference of foreign powers, while their own blood has been made to flow freely for causes not really their own. In spite of all this, the native character has asserted itself with vigor wherever it has had a chance. Juarez, the first successful ruler of Mexico of real Mexican blood, by a true Indian trait of tenacity, held the government through the dark period of the intervention. Diaz, also of native descent, has kept the country in a progressive path.

The true native character of Mexico has now a chance to assert itself. The future will look on with