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Juana Sanchez and Juana De los Reyes

Juana Sanchez was married to Captain Juan Gomes, a man she claims was abusive and unfaithful to her as he was involved in an extramarital affair. In order to make her husband remain faithful and to stop him from abusing her, Juana consulted an Indian woman who then gave her “two yellow roots and two grains of blue corn with the white hearts inside. She chewed the corn and anointed the chest and heart of her husband and repeated the exercise with the herbs.” This, however, did not work and after further consultation with the wife of an alferez (field-grade officer) and her sister Juana de los Reyes, one learns that although the formula did not work for Juana Sanchez, it did work for Juana de los Reyes, for a while. De los Reyes’ husband did stop his cheating ways until he discovered his wife anointing him one night as he awoke from his sleep. This attempt at control was a way to turn the patriarchal world on its head and make husbands accountable to their wives. It also shows the potential for collaboration and acculturation across “racial” lines through the sharing of knowledge by indigenous women and women of African descent concerning the properties of herbal and medicinal plants. This type of shared knowledge would later be reproduced and adapted by other ethnic groups (Taylor and Moore 2003:33).

NPS Ethnography Program