Graphic Witness: visual arts & social commentary
Graphic Witness home page

El Indio by Gregorio Lopez y Fuentes
a synopsis, with 11 illustrations by Diego Rivera

Chapter III -- Eagle Falling

A short while later, the strangers return, demanding the villagers provide them with someone to act as a guide on their treasure hunt. The expedition leader waves a paper before the illiterate village elder, insisting that the law compels them to obey. The village council meets. Some want to kill the strangers.

But the paper won. The oldest [council member] quietly retold the tale of their past sufferings, their wanderings in the mountains, their years of hunger, and all because the tribe had disobeyed the whites and provoked their anger. So it was decided to give the strangers a guide.

The chosen guide is the pride of the village: young, strong, handsome and knowledgeable about the plants and animals of the jungle. He answers the stranger's questions with dignity, through the interpreter. The strangers' map proves useless, and after a long and tiring climb, and some debate on how to proceed, they decide to ask the guide directly for the location of the gold. When he remains silent, they decide to torture him for the 'secret'. His hands tied behind him, he is hoisted by the neck, alternately left to choke or as he blacks out, allowed to drop to the ground before being hoisted again. He never says a word.

The young man's eyes were as serene as before the torture, when he had smiled at the interpreter's question. Now they turned slowly, studying everything around him. The treasure hunters, exasperated by the native's silence, and perhaps in order to decide on what to do next, moved away a little, talking in low voices.

Hands still tied behind his back, the guide makes a run for his freedom, tumbles down the steep rocky hillside and is lost to the strangers in the underbrush.